It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again already. Just as predictable as the change in the weather, so too do the Facebook and BBM statuses start to change—agonizing over word counts and exam cram sessions.
While my undergraduate days are now behind me, I remember all too well the late night, Quotes-fuelled session in Weldon and the endless stream of theses and secondary sources that filled my late November days.
It’s easy to just want to get it over with when you’re staring down four essays, five exams and a seminar presentation. Naturally, with the golden light of the holiday break at the end of the tunnel, we tend to put our heads down and plough through our work, just checking off the days until freedom. But let me suggest a less popular perspective—how about appreciating the work you’re doing?
Hopefully you chose your major for a reason. At some point in your education you genuinely enjoyed musing over Marshall McLuhan, or pondering Pythagoras’ theorem. It may seem like a distant dream, but surely there was some excitement your first day of classes. Think back to that wide-eyed frosh you once were and try to take some time to glean at least a little enjoyment from the tediousness of exams and assignments.
University, despite what some students might like to think, isn’t just a vending machine for bachelor’s degrees. We shouldn’t resign ourselves to just getting through the academic side of our university experience, but truly make an effort to appreciate that we’re being intellectually challenged, spending our days thinking and reading about things we may never get the chance to engage with again.
Sure, by your fourth essay in a month, it’s harder to get excited about whatever theories or ideas you’re wrestling with, but I challenge you to try anyway. If you take an interest in your work, you’ll probably be more successful. In my experience in 4½ years of higher education, students perform better academically when they are interested in the subject matter.
On the occasions when I managed to really push myself to consider the material I had to work with, and find an angle that truly interested me, I always achieved higher grades and was happier with my work. But grades aside, you’ll be getting more out of your education.
Do you really want to look back once convocation rolls around and realize you just “got through” your undergraduate degree? Wouldn’t you rather reflect fondly on the time you took to enjoy your education?
We as university students are extremely privileged to even get to study at a post-secondary level. Lots of people in our own backyard would sacrifice a lot just to get such a chance—in fact, lots of Western students have done just that.
So the next time you’re groaning over that last 1,000 words or the final few chapters you have to study, step back and enjoy the fact that you have such a wonderful opportunity at your fingertips.