by Kay Mitchell
As commencement rapidly approaches, many seniors are anxious to be finished with their college years. Senioritis has kicked in for some and others have expressed impatience to be done and moving on with their lives. “Forget classes, just give me my diploma,” one student said. While it is true that the academic life is not for everyone, there are undeniable benefits to being a college student.
Some students who carry the heaviest class loads, have fewer than 30 hours of class a week, but most people have less than half of that. After the (less than 40) hours of scheduled classes, some students have meetings for organizations they have chosen to join or work-study jobs to help fund tuition. Even with these responsibilities, a college student’s schedule is very flexible with lots of free time to do things like sleep. Or sleep.
Once students hit the working world most of them will be working at least 40 hours a week, nine to five, for someone they don’t know, in an environment that is not likely to be as intellectually challenging as what they have come to know at Illinois Wesleyan. In our classrooms we spend time engaging in theoretical debates about esoteric subjects with professors who have come to know us and genuinely care about our progress as students and as people. I am told that the real world is not like this. My father has repeatedly informed me that I need to be more pragmatic and less of an idealist.
The prospect of living off campus is also a thrill for graduates, particularly if they have been in the residence halls for most of their college career. On campus there are stricter rules to be followed, but at least someone is cleaning your living room, cleaning your bathroom and preparing your food for you. Once the novelty of being completely independent wears off, graduates might start to realize just how good campus living was. Paying for rent, utilities, Internet and cable probably is not as exciting as the challenge of new responsibility first makes it seem.
On campus we have everything we need in close proximity, our work, our food and a support system of friends and faculty. Once we leave we will still have those people accessible by phone or e-mail, however the possibility of dropping by a professor’s office to chat about an interesting article we read, or get advice on the what to do with the rest of our lives is no longer there.
Students seem not to appreciate how good we have it in college. If you party too hard, stay out too late or do supremely dumb things the explanation is simply “oh you’re a college student.” Once the real world gets here you’re expected to behave like an adult, be responsible, not spend all your money on beer and pizza.
People always tell us that our college years are the best years of our lives. If that’s true then why do we only get four of them, and why do they happen so early? With all the positive aspects of the college experience, who wants to graduate?