By Amy Gorel, Staff Writer
Chugging a coffee during the last five minutes of lecture, distractedly checking social media, my foot is tapping on the ground and I’m hoping that the professor lets us out early. He gloriously says, “Okay, any more questions?”
Sweet. I’m out of here. Going to print out that paper due next class and call my boss to tell them I can’t make it to work because I have this thing and that thing to do.
But wait, there’s a hand up in the back of the lecture hall and now another one. Who are these people? He was about to let us out early!
And then I realize that their questions encouraged the teacher to clarify some important and interesting info that was covered in class. Ugh.
Those hand-raisers were more concerned about the here and now–the lesson covered in this class–than they were about rushing off to do the next thing.
When every freshman gets to college, either through some orientation talk or an Internet meme, they hear the options they have: “Academics, sleep and social life. Choose two out of the three.” And sometimes more comically and probably more correctly, you find Dwight from “The Office” telling you that you could only choose one.
American college life emphasizes “doing it all.” Get good grades, join all the clubs, have an internship, make some money (and sometimes a lot of money if you have to pay for your own tuition), have an exciting social life and be a healthy and rested human being. Easy, right? Just the idea of balancing all that reaffirms my practice of keeping a backup thermos of coffee in my backpack.
Let’s stop to think. What are we paying upwards of $50,000 a year for? An education. We’re paying for the opportunity to learn from professors and from the readings and homework they assign.
We could learn to cook on our own and go out at night without paying that astronomical price. I only have to pay about $2.50 at Pavement for permission to sit for hours–and they don’t even ask me to complete a certain amount of reading before I visit again.
The hand-raisers happened to be part of the Evergreen program–students over the age of 58 who audit classes at BU. Speaking to them after class, I realized that they were here for the reasons the rest of the students are supposed to be here for–a love of learning. They are overjoyed to come to class, while the majority of undergrads grumble about waking up at the early hour of 10 a.m.
They’re here because they want to be here and they want to learn. They don’t have to stress over what they are going to do with their lives or how to follow the proper class structure to finish their major in time. While the “what am I doing with my life” stress won’t go away as an undergrad, it’s a good thing to stop and think about why we want to be here in the first place.