I’ll be honest and say that I was one of those kids who barely had to try in school. Technically, I was “gifted” and able to absorb the material faster, better, stronger, etc. So I spent a lot of my early academic career day dreaming, reading, and writing, but not really learning. I understood the lessons enough to parrot them back at the teacher and utilize them, but I didn’t apply them to my own life or my own way of thinking in the way that learning is supposed to do.
That all changed at university. Suddenly the lessons made sense in a way they hadn’t before, somehow everything became more engaging, and I realized that education is supposed to help me make informed decisions as a citizen. Understanding math helps me understand the repercussions of an economic depression, getting political science and history is making me more aware of my rights and responsibilities as a voter in a democratic system, reading and analyzing text has increased my ability to think critically and understand what is really being said behind the words on the page. I didn’t really get how much of a difference there was between university and public education learning until now.
I did attempt to skate my way through my earlier years of university—with mixed results. Classes I could have aced were settled with B’s, and I made the excuse that I wouldn’t be able to handle 15 credits because I’d never done so before. This semester I proved myself wrong in the best way possible.
With graduate school looming in the future, a need to succeed, and engaging classes, I managed to take 15 credits and score four A’s and one A-. This is the best I’ve done since high school, and I feel that I deserved and worked for these grades because—for once—I was an active student. I did the readings, discussed and asked questions in class, took notes at lectures, missed class only a handful of times, wrote, edited, and revised papers sometimes beyond the scope of the assignment.
I did a lot of things for the first time this semester. I wrote a twenty-five page paper on Twilight and sexism, created an annotated bibliography for history, wrote a profile on Barbie, a proposal for how the Core Writing Program could use social media to their benefit, a statement of purpose for graduate school, and revised my query letter. My internship with the English department as their social media intern was so successful that they gave me a job doing the same thing! That’s right people: I get paid to Tweet.
This semester was also bittersweet because one of my favorite professors is retiring. He taught me how to love linguistics, syntax, and semantics—crazy things that Freshman me would’ve never imagined liking. He opened my eyes to the possibilities of my future, talked me back into applying to grad school when another professor said not to, and made me realize that I can spend my whole life writing, and isn’t that good enough? We’ve talked language, politics, literature, pasts, and I can honestly say that being his student has been one of the greatest honors of my undergraduate career. I will never forget what he taught me. Thank you, Dr. Hardy.
So what’s next? I only have one semester left till graduation, at least one job under my belt, and a summer to prepare for the craziness. I’ll be taking 12 credits, working as social media manager for the English department, maybe have another job, be working on my applications for graduate school, serving as president of three clubs, and (as always) writing. It sounds overwhelming, but this semester has proved that I can handle a big workload if I focus, work hard, and stay ahead of the schedule.
The greatest thing about beating the best semester ever is that I proved myself wrong, and I’m happy about that. So here’s to a summer to relax and prepare, and then to another better-than-best term!
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