How to Spot a Try-Hard

By Tim Bechtold '17

Tim Bechtold '17

Tim Bechtold '17

What is a try-hard?  Is it the hard-charging investment banking recruit wearing a neatly-pressed suit all-day, every-day or is it the techie in a hoodie in the corner of the Winter Garden writing code for the new sharing economy app they are launching?  At first glance, it’s hard to tell.  

To complicate the matter, you’ll rarely run into someone that would self-describe himself or herself as a try-hard.   Try-hards will attempt to convince others in conversation that they are less of a try-hard relative to others in the group.  Though the majority of us have an underlying sense of admiration for these people, we desperately hold ourselves back to avoid the negative social consequences of being labeled one. The last thing you would want a peer to think is that you’re a diligent, hard-working Boothie, that prefers optional readings to TNDC. That’s why you protect your social reputation by wearing a disguise to review sessions, avoiding the urge to color code your cheat sheet, and announcing to the entire class that you didn’t study for the midterm because you were busy climbing the MPP beer pong ladder.

So, because we are at Booth, we took the Chicago Approach and will now unveil the 100% guaranteed formula for quantifying a person’s level of try-hardness.  In the interest of time, we will spare you the derivation of this formula, but rest assured it’s backed up by significant research and empirical evidence typical for any potential Nobel Prize winning UChicago study.  Think of this as a sort of all-encompassing, “QBR-type” rating for an individual based on several core categories of life at Booth.  These categories include academic life, recruiting, frosty beverage consumption, TNDC attendance, case competitions, and leadership.  The higher the Try-Hard Index score, the higher the level of effort.  Let’s take a look:


Hp = Average hours per week spent preparing for class

Hc = Total weekly class time of enrolled courses

P = Class participations per three-hour class


I = Total number of industries being recruited for

Ra = Total recruiting events attended for all industries being recruited for

Rh = Total recruiting events held for all industries being recruited for

Frosty Beverage Mix

C = Average coffees consumed per week

Fb = Average total beer or wine glasses consumed per week


Ta = Average TNDC events attended per month

Case Competitions

Cc = Average case competitions per month


L = Leadership roles currently held


As you can see, many of the components contribute anywhere from 0 to 1, with exponential scores coming from highly ambitious academic involvement, recruiting efforts, and extracurricular activities.  Reductions to the Try Hard Index can occur from aggressive caffeine to frosty beverage consumption ratios and dedication to TNDC.  Rather than absolute, the Try-Hard Index results are relative in nature, which facilitates simple quantitative comparisons of effort levels.

Most of these inputs can be gathered through casual conversation and observations of one’s daily life at Booth, but feel free to consult third-party sources to gather information as necessary.  Spotting the try-hard isn’t always easy, but the Try-Hard Index should get you well on your way.  So the next time someone tells you they aren’t a try-hard, you’ll be ready to put them to the test.