Hitting the books with newfound enthusiasm

Hello to you, bittersweet summer’s end. Goodbye summertime adventures.  The beginning of school is all about getting back into the swing of things: learning how to read a college text again, how to pretend like you understood that text when called on in class and how to recall the concepts you skimmed past when asked to write a paper about them at midterms.   For me, it’s not until school lets out for winter or summer break that I am able to appreciate the work that we all do here.   My new school year resolution is to try to remember how much an education means even as I slog through knee-deep snow to the library on a Saturday, as I fill in bubbles on a Scantron and as I plow through my weekly reading assignments.  I’d like to ask you to join me. Every single one of us benefits from being here, yet I know I often act as though completing what’s been asked of me is as enjoyable as a root canal.  A diploma from one of America’s “Public Ivies” is sure to facilitate success, but that’s not what I need to be reminding myself of.   At this school, I’ve had the privilege of learning from an amazing list of professors, studying alongside an amazing group of students and living on a bustling and exciting campus.  People here work hard, and we don’t do it for ourselves — we do it for each other. Often professors dedicate the first week of school to spelling out exactly why students ought to care about their subject. They have to provide detailed reasons for why the material they will present us with will benefit our educations, how it connects to other subjects and why we should give a damn. I find this depressing. Getting excited about being here and appreciating every moment of it will help me make these connections on my own. It’s not good for my intellectual development to have it all expounded in the course syllabus, and it would certainly do me some good to be forced to make those connections on my own. We are all children of the Renaissance — we attend the same college as John Dewey. We ought to value learning for learning’s sake, because all knowledge is good knowledge and will allow us to better our world and ourselves. By the time I complete my liberal arts degree, I should be able to open any section of The New York Times — Art, Science and Technology, Business or Opinion — and understand each article. Our formal educations may come to a close in a matter of months or years, and after that we’ll rely on our own initiative and curiosity to let our informal educations enrich our lives wherever we go. It may not be possible to develop these skills without first committing to enthusiastically enjoying our time as students here.