Suzanne Walker, a third-year, was discovered by the Shady Dealer investigative team to be “actually a very sweet person,” despite having been pronounced a “flaky antisocial gunner” by her ex-friend Kathlyn Graeber. According to Kathlyn, Suzanne missed her friendsgiving dinner without notice, pushed back their museum date sixteen times, and replied to messages with a standard delay of three weeks.
“At first, I thought Suzanne was ghosting me,” Kathlyn said. “But on the rare occasions that we did hang out, she seemed to have fun and said I am her closest friend. So I figured, she actually wants to be friends, she just doesn’t have the time right now. She’s really serious about school. But when you can’t make the smallest amount of time for a friend in many months, that’s just rude. Once I told her my birthday was tomorrow, and she didn’t even text me ‘Happy B-Day!’ the next day. Is she for real?”
However, other people who know Suzanne were significantly more generous in their esteem. “Yeah, she didn’t show up to any of the events I invited her to, either,” said Michael, another friend. “And she doesn’t take phone calls because they ‘fracture her workflow.’ She makes phone calls sometimes, though. Like, when she needs something from me. Look, for someone so accomplished and hard-working she’s very chill. She’s in four selective RSOs.”
On a quest to find out what Suzanne’s deal is, the Dealer flew a reporter to upstate New York to talk to the student’s mother, Maria. The woman assured us that her daughter is fine. “Suzanne isn’t the first UChicago student in this family, so by now I know her behavior comes with the territory. When my oldest went off to UChicago, I was worried — he became distanced and unusually introverted. I kept asking, is something wrong? Are you feeling all right? But then I learned that each of his classes required 16 hours of work per week. That explained everything.”
Maria showed us Suzanne’s childhood bedroom. It featured a piano, never touched after the last resume-enhancing performance in a high school music competition, a remote learning setup with two monitors, and a shameful pile of “useless” comic books in the corner. “Yes,” Maria conceded, “Suzanne isn’t very loving or helpful. But she has three weeks of midterms every quarter — what would you expect? After all, I want her to work hard now. That way, after graduation she will be able to afford the therapy she will need.”
To clarify the school position on students’ shaky work-life balance, we interviewed Dr. Jay Ellison, Dean of Students in the College. “As we all know,” Dr. Ellison explained, “UChicago students are barely self-motivated — otherwise they would have made it to Harvard. So our job as a college is to push these losers to work their absolute hardest. After years of trial and error, we discovered the best way to make them succeed. The trick is to make sure a thick mixture of self-hatred, anxiety, and envy is constantly flowing through every student’s bloodstream, cleansing their system of the harmful urges to rest, make friends, or indulge in hobbies. Yes, our method makes some students a little lacking in the social department. They might not be nice. Or happy. But otherwise they would just let themselves go.”
Finally, the Dealer met with Ms. Walker herself, who graciously agreed to a short interview and set a timer on her phone for four minutes 59 seconds. After learning of her ex-friend Kathlyn’s accusations, Suzanne assured us that she is not the worst person around. “At least I don’t put others down like some of my classmates, right? I just keep to myself — Kathlyn should try it.”
When the Dealer asked Suzanne’s opinion about her overwhelming lifestyle, she explained, “Yeah, I felt exhausted and lonely in my first year. But thankfully by second year my workload got bumped up, so I don’t have time to feel down anymore. Now excuse me, I have to get back to studying for my second-round interview at BCG in two weeks. I really want to get into a Big Three consulting firm so that I can make six figures plus equity out of college. Then, hopefully, in ten years I can retire early and never have to think about any of this bullshit again. I just have to hang in there for ten more years. Just ten more years. God, please, just ten more years.”