It’s a damp, gloomy day here on campus. The kind of day that, in the right frame of mind, recalls pumpkin-picking, tailgating, scraves, and cider–all those wonderful things we anticipate about fall.
Around here, for students, this time of hear also signals something else: the end of the honeymoon (as Dr. Sutton calls it). While freshmen (and all students) are busy thinking about Halloween costumes for Ball on the Belle and all the great things they’ll be doing over winter break, they’re also bummed about the results of their first tests, struggling against serious homesickness, havind doubts about their majors, their careers, all the choices they’ve made.
Fall is a retrospective time for all of us. As the year closes, we look back on all its happenings and reflect. Some of us, if we’re honest, will admit to regrets, bad decisions, sadness, and panic (intermingled with happiness, achievement, and joy, of course). Your students, on top of feeling that yearly reflective instinct, are also at a critical point of upheaval in their lives, add to that struggles with academic adjustment, family adjustment, new responsibilities and friends, a roommate…it goes on. What reasonable human wouldn’t be overwhelmed?
I hear a lot of you now naming dynamics that are changing in you and your student’s lives: understanding of finances, timely phone calls, worry, helping to deal with conflict. All this stuff I mentioned in the above paragraphs–that’s all the stuff we meant when we said, “college is hard,” (and you thought we were only referring to academics?!). There is no campus in the world where a student gets the perfect roommate, the perfect residence hall, the perfect credit cards (although wouldn’t it be great if the company made one that just shut off every time they tried to buy junk?), the academic program perfectly attuned to your student. You won’t find it because it doesn’t exist. We live in an imperfect world. I work on an imperfect campus and your students will not have the “perfect” college experience. There, I said it. We all felt warm and fuzzy at first, but maybe now the novelty is wearing off…
“Boy,” you’re thinking, “this post is a real downer.” Wait for it…
The thing is, all these people who work to support and nuture and teach your student–from RAs to full professors–none of us are in this for the money. We’re in it because we love it. We love supporting students, helping them, watching them grow, seeing that struggling freshmen who we helped, walk down the hall in Knights on graduation day to shake our hands. That’s why we’re here.
The intention of college is not perfection. The intention is learning. And learning requires academic and emotional turmoil, hardship, and sometimes failure. We don’t learn anything from “perfect.” But maybe “perfect” for college, means something else. Maybe it means students have the freedom to struggle, to get support, to learn, because everyone here is here with the intent of helping them come out better on the other side.
What do you think about that?
Director Of Writing and Parent Communication