ACADEMICALLY SPEAKING: ‘Quiet Quitting’ in college is the lazy option for students already unfit to confront real life

While experiencing declining mental health, college students were also being indoctrinated with the idea that academic standards and rigor needed to be swept away to achieve equity on campus.

"Academically Speaking" is a series by Campus Reform Editor in Chief Zachary Marschall that, drawing on his firsthand experience working with other scholars across the globe, reveals how radical ideas originating in academia impact Americans’ daily lives. 

Marschall holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and is an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky. His research investigates the intersections of democratic political systems, free market economies, and technological innovation in the production of national and cultural identities, as well as the exchange of cultural goods, services, and practices.


Colleges and universities do not operate in isolation from American society. While radical leftist ideas that start on campus do trickle down from the ivory tower and influence the rest of the nation for the worse, American society, now affected by campus leftists’ ideas, does feed back into college students’ experiences. 

But those that perpetuate liberal bias and abuse in higher education are not off the hook. The values they impose on students affect how college undergraduates process information and respond to a variety of situations.

Draconian COVID-19 restrictions, for example, did adversely affect students’ mental health, Campus Reform has reported. Blame does rest on the shoulders of administrators and faculty that appropriated COVID bureaucrats’ zeal for such measures.

Concurrent with experiencing declining mental health, college students were also being indoctrinated by faculty and administrators with the idea that academic standards and rigor needed to be swept away to achieve equity on campus.

Students were told during COVID-19 that attendance, letter grading, standardized test scores, and effort all contributed to higher education’s meritocracy, and were thus responsible for perpetuating White supremacy and racial inequities.

As a result, it should be no surprise that college students are now giving up on their coursework while Americans in the workforce are expressing displeasure with their employers and leaving en masse during the Great Resignation.

Roughly a third of college students are “indeed ‘quiet quitting’ in order to preserve their mental health this fall semester,” Intelligent discovered in its survey of 1,000 participants earlier last month.

“Quiet quitting” is the national trend of over half of the American labor force putting the bare minimum into their jobs because they no longer feel engaged or motivated to grow within the company, according to Gallup.

This trend is the passive – and cowardly – alternative to actively submitting a resignation or bringing up work-related grievances with a supervisor or HR. To borrow from Lionel Trilling, there is a moral obligation to work hard and strive for betterment in all areas of life. Virtue demands it.

[RELATED: ACADEMICALLY SPEAKING: By condemning achievement, campus radicals destroy the things that made American universities wonderous institutions]

Intelligent found that most students are quiet quitting because they think schoolwork “would compromise their mental and/or physical health.” Common explanations in the survey for choosing to quit college work quietly included:

These responses confirm that the tyranny of lower expectations is real. Lowering academic expectations to achieve equity detrimentally affects everyone because it robs opportunities to thrive and find purpose.

Consequently, the left is making young Americans less dynamic tomorrow by making them too comfortable today; and that practice is already bearing results.

Approximately 82% of Millennial and Generation Z workers find quiet quitting “appealing,” according to a Generation Lab survey, which strongly suggests that recent college graduates are overwhelmingly uninterested in pushing themselves at work.

Even if quiet quitting is not new, its popularity is generationally concentrated. That news is troubling because college is not an ordeal, and therefore not good preparation for real-life struggles.

Writing papers, studying for a test, or completing a science lab are not particularly difficult compared to being a frontline worker or serving in the military.

Being a full-time undergraduate student is in practice a part-time job that comes with months-long breaks, on-site amenities, and countless diversity offices catering to every real or made-up social identity an 18-year-old might have.

That roughly 30% of students are not motivated by grades further confirms that higher education is teaching the next generation of Americans to celebrate mediocrity.

The next generation of leaders is unprepared to handle adversity with grit and professionalism because students who are told that achievement is a harmful social construct are no longer motivated to be virtuous and accomplished.

[RELATED: GIORDANO: Students cannot pass a basic citizenship exam: A shameful indictment of our education system]

That attitude also contributes to college students’ growing incapacity for civil discussion and disagreement.

They shout instead of debate. They heckle instead of listen. They give up on themselves rather than persevere.

In March, Yale University Law professor Kate Stith told a crowd of law students to “grow up” when they heckled and shouted at Alliance Defending Freedom’s Kristen Waggoner during a free speech panel.

The Yale incident suggests that even graduate programs are not filtering out those individuals who lack the determination to better themselves – intellectually, morally, and behaviorally.

As an institution, higher education is failing itself, these students, and the nation because through its degrees and rankings, it is rewarding and credentialing moral and intellectual laziness.

Quiet quitting is a symptom of leftists’ equity agendas in the workplace and classroom that seek to upend American politics and cultural life.

When the left talks about raising taxes or spending to fund their equity-driven initiatives, they assume that it can indefinitely rely on other people’s money. Academic leftists are committing the same assumption when they graduate quiet quitters, thinking that there are other people out there to be our soldiers, doctors, lawyers, and pilots.

The problem is that one-third is a significant number. If higher education does not reverse the quiet quitting trend on campus, it will stop producing the ‘other people’ to do the hard work for the laziest among us. 


Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.