Monday, July 19, 2004

An Original Not Ready For Prime Time Player

Brandi and I went for a walk on campus last night.

It is neither accident nor coincidence that I continue to reside so close to the BGSU campus. I left the area for a year after graduation, and eventually gravitated back to it. The ease of attending Falcon sporting events aside, I love being just a short walk away from the University and living in a college town. I truly enjoy being in a place that's so alive all the time.

I love the feeling I get when I'm on campus, and I spend time there when I can. Granted, most of the time I spend on campus takes place at Doyt Perry Stadium or Anderson Arena, but I've been known to head over and sit underneath the bell tower or in the stands in the stadium and do some writing. It's hard to explain, but I feel more engaged and switched-on when I'm there. I remember my high school guidance counselor saying you'd know the right college for you by the way you felt when you were there, and there is no doubt that Bowling Green was the right choice for me.

Of course, I wasted two years at Wright State University ("right state, wrong university" indeed) before I found that out. (Actually, it's somewhat unfair to call those two years a waste, as I did have some great times there, and made some good friends.)

At any rate, Brandi and I took a walk on campus last night, and one of our topics of conversation was how we would do college differently if we had a chance to do it all over again. This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, for some unknown reason. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I just wasn't ready for college. Despite the fact that I pulled down pretty good grades (I'd have graduated cum laude were it not for some obscure transfer rules in that area), I don't think I was very good at it.

I was extremely lucky to be born with a high level of intelligence. I don't say that to be pompous, although I know it probably comes off that way; I just think it would be silly not to be aware of it and acknowledge it. I have an excellent memory and a knack for figuring things out. Needless to say, those abilities proved quite useful in excelling academically with a minimum of effort through high school, and also fostered some pretty poor study habits that carried over into my college career.

It was rare for me to arrive prepared for a class. If there was a reading assignment, chances were good that I hadn't done it. Minor writing assignments were probably finished moments before classtime, if at all, and major writing assignments were likely started and finished the night before. I wouldn't classify myself as chronically absent, but I was known to miss a class or two from time to time. Somehow I got through in spite of these tendencies, and even managed to do well in terms of grades.

Honestly, thinking back on it now, I have no idea how that happened. I could certainly rise to a challenge when I was presented one, but otherwise I was content to coast through and do only what I needed to maintain a certain grade point average. I just didn't have a hunger for knowledge, or a sense of the big picture.

I think this is something that most college students lack when it comes to academics. They have a tendency to worry about what material they will be tested on, and learning that material for the test, instead of thinking about what knowledge they should be taking away from a class in general, and what they should be learning and why. When you take the college experience as a whole, it doesn't matter what grade you got on your Psych. 101 final your freshman year. What matters is how much you retain from that class if ever there comes a time when such knowledge is necessary. That has a tendency to get lost in all the focus on individual classes, tests, papers, lectures, labs, etc.

Surprisingly, I do feel like I've retained a pretty fair amount from my university experience, but it's nowhere near what it could have been if I had put more effort into it. That craving for knowledge that I lacked then I feel like I have now. I don't know what has happened in the meantime to grant me that quality, but I do feel like I'd be a whole lot better at college if I had another shot at it.

I'm starting to think more seriously about graduate school. I don't know exactly how I would go about making that happen, nor do I know why a Master of Arts in English would be significantly more "useful" than a Bachelor of Arts in English. I just know that it's something I would really like to do, and that makes it worth looking into. Maybe this time I'll be ready.

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