One piece of information I remember from the Welcome speech on our very first night of orientation (along with Rothin designating himself the school’s Prime Minister) is the phrase “your business here is to learn.” This sentence has found a place in the back of my mind and stayed there. I’ve thought a lot about what I’m here to learn. Obviously the plethora of new information I’ll learn in my classes is part of the picture; but there’s so much more to the college experience than just sitting in class and focusing solely on schoolwork.
I am at college because I want to become a better student and a more educated person. I want to take classes that truly interest me and to become invested in a subject that impassions me. I also came to college because I want to have new experiences with new people. This aspect of college is crucial to keep in mind. As a college student, not only am I here to learn material in my classes, but I am also here to learn the social skills I’ll need to be a functioning human in the outside world.
This principle is why I strongly believe that college students should balance their time for work and play fairly equally. Sure, pushing your homework off all weekend will make for a work-heavy Sunday, but having fun on Friday and Saturday is absolutely worth it. The stories you’ll want to remember with your friends 20 years from now aren’t about those Saturdays you spent all day holed up in the library.
Think about a college experience focused uniquely on schoolwork. A student with this college life goes to bed promptly at 9 p.m. every night of the week. They don’t have time to participate in extracurriculars. This student brings their homework with them to meals so they don’t have to take a break from their studies. This image brings two ideas to mind for me. First of all, this sounds incredibly stressful. I love hanging out with friends during the evenings and on the weekends because it provides a break from doing my classwork. A life here without a stress reliever sounds tremendously difficult. This lifestyle also reminds me quite a bit of high school. High school involved going to school early in the morning, sitting in class for six hours, coming home and doing homework. I rarely had time to hang out with friends during the week, and the weekends were often just as busy. I should also mention that I didn’t particularly enjoy high school, so I have absolutely no desire to make my college experience similar to what I had for the past four years.
I like to think about college as a high school experience on steroids. You meet people and become close with them 10 times faster than you could in high school, mostly because you live either right down the hall from them or across the quad. You learn material for your classes incredibly quickly; you read entire novels in a weekend and write papers in a day. Everything in college moves at the speed of light and it’s your job to keep up with it.
So what am I here at Macalester to learn? I’m here to become a better essay writer. I’m here to find out what my partying limit is. I’m here to participate fully in my classes. I’m here to figure out how to undress in the Dupre shower area without flashing anyone. And I’m here to make friendships that will (hopefully) still be going strong at our 25th reunion. I believe that my business here is to learn how to become a more well-rounded person, both through studying and socializing.