I’ve worked in an academic setting for quite a while now and during the course of my years as an instructor and librarian, I’ve come across a variety of students ~ those who are in college to get an education, those who are in college because Mom and Dad said they had to attend and those who are in college because they don’t have anywhere else to go. And as I’ve encountered the last two groups of students, a part of me wants to reach out, grab them by the shoulders and just shake them. Instead, of resorting to bodily harm, I think I’ll just share my thoughts here.
It frustrates me to see students not taking advantage of the opportunities before them. I know that part of the thrill of college is being away from home and discovering who you are but the main point of college is to get an education. Looking back, I wish that I had asked my professors more questions and participated more in my classes. I wish that I had taken the time to get to know the librarians at my first college, they really are your best friends when it comes to doing research and writing papers. But, mostly, I wish that I had taken advantage of the different programs that were offered, especially the study abroad program. Do you know how awesome it is to have the opportunity to go overseas and study? To immerse yourself in another culture and learn to recognize the similarities and embrace the differences… Incredible.
When I’m teaching or working as a librarian, I try so hard not to let my frustration get the best of me but sometimes it’s hard. I went back to school after a four year stint in the military, marriage and the birth of four kids. I received my first Master’s in American History and my second Master’s in Library and Information Science. Going back to school as an adult learner was difficult. While there were many advantages to returning to school as a nontraditional student (focus, desire, etc), there were also many disadvantages (money, time, familial and occupational obligations). Studying late at night, with a baby on your hip, or writing papers between stirring peas and frying chicken isn’t easy. So when I appear a little snappish or I start complaining a little too much, it’s not because I’m angry, it’s because I just don’t want my students to squander their opportunities. My wish for my students is that they will not look back and wish they had done things differently.