School Daze Vol.1: Reflections On The Last Three Years

by mitchbrown7

   As spring draws to a close, and summer is fast approaching, I can’t help but reflect on my college experience thus far. These last two semesters have been really hectic. Last fall, if you were to ask me what I do in my free time ,I would have told you “I don’t have any.” In between, writing for the campus newspaper, trying to get a TV/web show off the ground, which petered out after only a couple of episodes, going to class, and the cook job I was working at one of the dinning halls, I couldn’t fit anything else into my schedule.

School is priority number one; it’s the catapult that I hope will lift me to a higher ground, and getting there is completely dependent on my efforts. That’s why I go so hard and take this very seriously. My future depends on this. My sister once told me I was “obsessed” with academic matters. My best friend Mike said he’s never seen someone as determined and motivated as I am. These last two semesters I’ve really been feeling the stress and pressure. In 2008-2009, I had so many hurdles to scale; I was always thinking I can do this or that tomorrow ,(whatever you wish to proclaim that as) and tomorrow is now today. In 2008-2009, just sitting in class felt exhilarating. Now it often feels like I’m just punching the clock. The spark is still there, but at times it feels like it’s  growing dim. I’m determined to try and rekindle it as it once was.

 Three years ago, I felt like I had so many hurdles to scale, so many credit hours to accumulate and courses to pass, but now I’m well beyond the halfway mark, and I’ve been spending more time reflecting on the amount of courses I’ve taken. I think about the amount of time I’ve spent in a classroom. I think about what my favorites classes have been,which is an easy answer–the introductory biology course I took in the spring of 2009 and history of the ancient world in the fall of 2009. Biology was a favorite because the majority of the course material consisted of unfamiliar information,yet I was able to do well. The first A I ever scored on a college exam was in that class. It’s like the whole experience served as an affirmation that I could do this. History of the ancient world was also an influx of (semi) new information.

Every historian has his or her favorite era, an era they are well versed in: for me, it’s the Cold War and 20th century Middle Eastern events, stuff like the three major Arab/Israeli wars and the 1979 Iranian revolution. The B.C.E. era is not my specialty. One of the coolest books I’ve ever been assigned came from that class– Sources Of World Civilization Volume I, which was a supplemental companion to our main text book. Sources contained a plethora of primary source documents that pertained to the class. I still have the book. Even though the class was not a religious studies course, a theological focus was present, an emphasis on the role religion played in theses ancient societies. The book contained selections from the Bible, the Qur’an, and the Bhagavad Gita.(a Hindu holy book) The book wasn’t completely focused on theology: it also contained classic literature from the ancient world, like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the Babylonian epic Gilgamesh, and Homer’s The Odyssey.

I’ve been asked why I’m also majoring in history, as though it were an irrelevant subject. I even had someone ask me how can you get a job with such a major. My reason for taking on a double major was to increase my knowledge. For a writer/journalist, the benefit is that I’ll have more to write about. The “how can you make money with that type of degree” question is an example of how college, for many, has become a glorified trade school. I have no idea why someone would want to major in something like construction management or tourism. Those aren’t even academic disciplines– THEY ARE FUCKING TRADES!! So many students primarily focus on jumping through the required hoops, and the acquiring of knowledge is secondary. The result of the pervasiveness of such a mentality is the emergence of an uneducated professional class.

There is a difference between vocational training and education. The prevalence of the uneducated college grad is directly linked to the transformation of the base of the American economy from an industrial base to a knowledge based/service economy. Many of the students roaming the halls in lower caliber universities would have been on a factory floor had they been alive and of working age thirty years ago. The four year degree has been devalued. Resources that are the most limited become the most valuable. The increased number of people going to college is a reason for the decreased value of the bachelor’s degree. Those who are serious, who are playing for keeps and chasing after success, not mediocrity, have to raise the bar higher, not only by moving on to a master’s degree, but by doing more than just course work, also being involved in academic-related and extra circular endeavors that will make the student stand out from the average. These are the kinds of things that are always on my mind. It’s just one epiphany I’ve had within the last few years. I’ll share some of the others later.