University of Minnesota, hats off to thee

Steven Snyder

The end of the semester is already here, and I can’t help feeling each year is passing quicker than the last. As a friend suggested, maybe it’s because as we get older, each year represents a smaller fraction of our life. Or maybe I’m just starting to lose my memory.

As we stress out over finals and focus intensely on the future, we forget we should be enjoying where we are right now. Yes, I admit Campus Connectors are too cramped, more teaching assistants should be fluent in English, and cramming for a final is not the stuff dreams are made of. However, if you really think about it, our life right now is pretty darn good.

Consider this an end-of-the-year pick-me-up or a last attempt at sentimentality before finals make us all bitter and exhausted. I’m not saying we have the easiest life. I’m just suggesting we should appreciate today while we have it.

The 10 best things about being in college

1. The 10 a.m. alarm
When’s your earliest class? 8 a.m.? 9:55? 6 p.m.? Unlike the real world, where alarms sound at 6 (or earlier), where congestion clogs the highway at 7 a.m., and where droopy-eyed employees enter their cubicles at 7:45 a.m., the college life of 10 a.m. lectures and afternoon naps is actually pretty sweet.

2. The four-week Christmas
Talk to any recent graduate and you’ll hear of their seven to 14 days of vacation per year. Talk to any student and you’ll hear about the 21-day holiday break, the seven-day spring break and nearly four-month summer.

3. What loans?
Fiscal responsibility? Forget about it! Sure we have loans, lots of them, but my how easy they are to ignore and forget when none are due until six months or more after graduation.

4. Taking the “C”In the real world, people worry about rent, mortgages, promotions and getting fired. If we want to slack off, we can just take the “C” and the accompanying dent in our grade point average. With 120 credits to work with, the consequences are minimal.

5. Parties, bars, late nights
From the dorms to clubs to Dinkytown, college is the only time we’ll be surrounded by this many interesting people, all looking to hang out. It might sound sappy, but it’s fun to always be meeting people and chugging beers with a new group of friends.

6. “I’m just a dumb college kid.”
We can be, and often are, stupid because we’re supposed to be. Riots, spring break, getting drunk, getting high, acting immature. It all comes back to lowered expectations for college students.

7. Always learning
Regardless of how much you hate school, you surely have had one class you looked forward to attending. We are always learning and growing. It’s far better than being pigeon-holed in a job.

8. “I’m not sure what I want to be.”
And thank God we don’t need to be. We’re not on a career path, not yet constrained by any choices we have made. We’re changing our major 15 times and open to the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.

9. Optimism
We’ve all seen it in our parents – down by the daily grind, exhausted come Wednesday night. At college, people are excited about what they’re doing, optimistic about tomorrow. It might be a struggle to wake up, but at least we aren’t dreading it.

10. Surprising ourselves
Whether it’s a presentation, a paper, a research project or a final exam, this is one of the few environments in which we can surprise even ourselves on a daily basis. In fact, that’s the whole point of college: striving for personal excellence.

We’re all leaving soon for a well-earned break. I hope you take a moment to remember that, despite all the crappy aspects of school, this is still a wonderful place to be.

Steven Snyder is a columnist. He welcomes feedback at [email protected]