American Grind Culture: “Setting Students Up for Failure”


High school and college students across America are becoming vocal about the stress they feel from the popularization of ‘grind/hustle culture,’ and University of North Georgia students have the same complaints. 

The term is used to describe the belief that a person needs to be constantly ‘grinding’ (working) in order to succeed and be their best version of themselves. 

“It is quite literally heartbreaking that it’s taken this many generations for people to start talking about it. We are not the first to struggle– we’re just the first to announce that we are struggling,” says Shelbi Satterfield, a freshman at UNG. “The expectations set by grind culture are setting students up for failure.” 

Austin Smith, a sophomore at Lumpkin County High School, says that trying to work constantly will lead to burn out and stunt people’s potential. “Humans are not machines, we are meant to do things other than work,” he says. “We would not be as far as we are today if we were only meant to work.” 

Dr. Simon Cordery, director of student counseling at UNG, says, “Grind culture is a new term for what my generation called the pursuit of a work/life balance and when we don’t find that ever elusive balance we call it burn out…how do we live a life that helps us prosper but without hurting our physical and emotional health? It’s a good question. I am still working on my own answer.” 

Students are searching for a way to balance school, work, social life, family and more. Cordery offers some advice, suggesting that students work toward being intentional with the attention they give to each aspect of their lives, without spending so much time that they become susceptible to burnout. “We have to be observant about our life, our needs,  our state of being, and about what we need to do to take care of ourselves. Then we need to take intentional and sustained action that pursues health.”