When I was in the army, I often heard of officers who were "ticket-punching" by accumulating certain assignments which could enhance their chances for promotion. I'm sure that some of them took the assignments seriously but others simply wanted a springboard to another spot.
For those people, ticket-punching was one notch above "going through the motions."
Both concepts came to mind while reading about the frenzied activities of high school students seeking to increase their chances of getting into Ivy League universities.
Reminder: Make a point of periodically taking a few steps back and asking, "What in the hell am I doing?"