Don’t Let School Get in the Way of College


“All right, class. Make sure and turn in that response to the excerpt by Jean M. Twenge on the way in,” announced the teacher, making me remember this assignment for the first time. Cuss, I thought, It’s my second time in class and I’ve already missed an assignment. I reluctantly sauntered to the teacher’s desk and told her the bad news. “I’m afraid I forgot about that response, so I don’t have one.” A hush fell upon my fellow troops. Men gasped. Women turned their faces away. Children ran screaming to their parents. I was so frustrated about the assignment that I was distracted for the entire class period, Well, if I wasn’t screwed before, I am now. I walked out of class towards my inevitable doom as a college student.

On one of my last days at home before heading off to the “great adventure” of college, a friend named Jacob said to me, “Don’t let school get in the way of college.” I was a little confused and thought he might be joking. But now I understand, with great clarity, the truth in those words. College is hard. Some of the professors expect you to understand everything they teach and think the way they think. They assume that their own course is the only task you have each week of your life; that you leave their class, eat lunch, and head to the library to open their textbook. I remember a professor saying, “Since you won’t have homework from me that night and therefore nothing else to do, make sure and go to that event in Simmons.” The constant bombardment of essays and readings can easily cause us to associate learning with late nights and frustrating problems. We can get so caught up in doing well in school that we miss out on college.

Einstein, one of the most respected minds in history, understood both the importance and fragility of creativity and curiosity. He describes the miracle of any genuine learning in today’s modern education: “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.”

College should be a time of growth: growth of the mind and of the individual. Now that I am a few months in and I’ve realized that one missed assignment isn’t the end of the world, I believe that college is not simply “a preparation for life” or a “springboard to success” as people say. College is life; and to lose four years of your life would be a tragedy of the greatest sort. We must grab the reins during this time and hold on with everything we’ve got. If we don’t intentionally make time for what we value, we will waste our own time.

I can’t tell you what to do because I don’t know what you really value in life, but I can tell you to do something. Stop waiting for your teacher’s assignment about Chesterton or Lewis, and go pick up a book. Gather friends and just drive. Stay up late doing something you love. Take someone to coffee. Refuse to only spend your semesters seeking high letter grades from someone you’d never heard of before August. Strive for excellence, of course, but do not miss out on the other things in life. Do not let school get in the way of college or duty in the way of passion.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not claim to reflect the opinions or views of the Defendant or its staff members.

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