Some things I know about college that I didn’t know when I was a freshman

Each term has a rhythm, rising and falling. During the term is a sense of timelessness. The term begins with excitement. It ends abruptly, and then the people are gone. Spring term starts well, with holidays finally over and work welcome. It gets very long. Many people get depressed. There will be students in my office in tears. The absence of light will contribute to this, and northern Minnesota winters can have many consecutive, overcast, short days.

More students will miss more classes. Spring break will be a psychologically necessary relief.

There will be one or two weeks of relatively warm weather at the end of the school year. Shorts and miniskirts will reappear. Men will take off their shirts while vigorously pursuing frisbees on the campus lawns. Then everyone but employees will be gone.

Even with the depression, the time spent doing, between time spent starting and ending, will be the best time.

People will forget color.

The third year is the best year. By then people are school savy and have a chance to really savor the experience without yet worrying about the complications and consequences of graduation.

Relationships get solid.

The fourth or fifth–anyway, the final–year is more tense, both with anxiety about leaving and with growing desire to move on. By the time people graduate it is time people graduate.

For most, that is the end of their connection with the school other than the alumni publications that will follow them if the alumni office can keep a current address.

Five years later people won’t remember much about their first year. Ten years later they will remember three or four of their teachers, but not much about them. They will be more likely to remember teachers for personal qualities than for teaching.

This is what I watch. Isn’t it strange that experience that sounds so bleak is so rich.


2 Responses to “Some things I know about college that I didn’t know when I was a freshman”

  1. greyhairedcoed Says:

    Your observations are very true and also poignant… I still fondly remember some of my instructors from 1960 when I was a freshman at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.

  2. Jessie Says:

    Yes, when put in these terms, it is strange that such a bleak sounding experience can be so rich.

    But, I’ll tell you, that in five or ten or fifty years, I’m sure that I’ll remember more about you as a teacher than you realize. I was just telling Vinny the other day how thankful I am that you became such an important part of my college career. We were talking about you because we saw a hat at Eddie Bauer that looked like the one you wear. And we both said: “Mark!”

    College is an interesting phenomenon and, I must say, I enjoy reading your interpretations of it.

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