The end of daze

It’s never the wrong year to have senioritis. In fact, many programs don’t even have students labeled “seniors.”

by Bobak Ha’eri

It’s finally happened, it’s almost here! I’ve finally reached the home stretch in my nearly lifelong journey through formal education. Unfortunately, while my body checks out of here in May, my mind checked out some time ago Ö possibly somewhere in late 2003, about November.

Virtually every year since high school graduation, the final months of school have seemed irrelevant – as though spring break gave us a license to not give a damn. I’m not sure why, but I know I’m not the only one. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or finishing up a doctorate: Once you reach mid-April, you’re going though the motions and dialing it in. If you spent spring break tuning out and going wild abroad, the calls are now coming long-distance.

Of course, spending grad school in Minnesota has only magnified the effect: Right now, the weather is gorgeous, but many of us get to spend daytime in the basement of some dingy brick building.

I don’t think the line is drawn at students. I’ve had classmates report their professors are dialing it in by this point: showing up to class, saying what needs to be said and feigning concern for questions. If you have enough upperclassmen in that sort of class, it amounts to a giant conference call.

It only gets weirder as you get further in your education. When I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, I realized I had the same degree as most of the teachers at my high school – a Catholic institution that didn’t require pesky teaching credentials. I hardly felt ready to go teach, but there I was: technically “qualified” – and from a better university than the lower-rung colleges most of them had gone to.

Now, I’m 25 and about to graduate from law school. The vast majority of my professors have the same degree I’m going to have. In terms of formal education, they have a month on me, and that’s getting shorter every day.

I’m starting to have trouble listening to them without feeling as if I can disagree as a colleague rather than as a student. Yet, I really don’t feel any closer to being a professor than at 18. Really I’m starting to get the feeling that a big part of being a professor is simply “fooling” your students into thinking you are one.

Universities are a business, and as a consumer, I’m starting to get bored with the product.

Maybe there’s a solution, but I don’t care – I’m in my final semester. I am the hallmark of ambivalence. In fact, I could be the opposite of helpful. Students like me can be dangerous: apt to make decisions that spite all those following us to make good on our own suffering. I guess grad students should be glad I can’t vote on unionization.

So to all you readers out there, remember: It’s only a few more weeks until the semester’s done. You’re either going to be graduated, on vacation, one year closer to graduation or wondering if the University administration is going to cut your program while you’re on break. There’s no sooner time to get started than now, on whatever it is you’re starting. Of course, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already begun.

Bobak Ha’Eri welcomes comments at [email protected]