Professors, buses make back-to-school blues

TBy Molly Kentala

toward the end of August there comes a day when the local Target begins hanging the giant “BACK 2 COOL” posters from the ceiling. To young children, such a day is considered a holiday. By the end of summer, a generalized worn-out feeling runs rampant through the neighborhoods of the United States, combined with an overexposure of trips to the lake, sleepovers and one too many visits from the ice cream man. These youngsters actually want to go back to school. They can’t wait to see their friends, eat school lunch, and go on class field trips. How then, in just a few short years, did all that excitement turn into “Oh man, I have class tomorrow?”

Don’t take this the wrong way; college is wonderful. An apartment with a leaky faucet is better than living at home any day of the week. It’s just the education part that gets old. Being on campus is experience enough. There are so many opportunities that sometimes, simply having class at the wrong time of day can make you a social pariah. Naturally, school becomes the “bad guy.”

With that in mind, how could one not dread the inevitable 6 a.m. alarm? Let’s face it: Going to class is not the highlight of a higher education; however, it is a necessity. So what happens when 20-somethings are required to listen to a person drone on for two hours in a hall that doesn’t allow room to scratch your back without smacking into four people? Plenty of wild and crazy times.

At some universities, there are rules pertaining to the allocation of cars on campus. Here, anyone can have a motor vehicle Ö if they are fortunate enough to win a permit in the parking lottery. So for the majority of students, either unlucky or poor, public transportation is the way to go. Yes, taking the bus may add an hour to the journey, but the extra hour can be put to use admiring the wide array of fellow riders. Just don’t be in too much of a hurry. Even though buses should run at specific times, the actual schedules can be quite unpredictable.

Take, for instance, bus route 16. Arriving at one of the many bus shelters lining Washington Avenue, you find a posted schedule of stop times plastered next to charming, spray-painted graffiti. After checking your watch, you notice a bus should be coming by in the next minute. You wait. And wait. And Ö wait. Twenty minutes have gone by and you’re starting to wonder if your lazy self should have walked in the first place. But, lo and behold, a white glimmer appears on the horizon. As your bus slows to a stop, a second bus races past. It’s predictable: The buses will never be there when you need them and as you’re about to walk away, three appear out of nowhere, just to make you mad. Ah, school.

Walking through the campus of a large school, you don’t expect to see tons of familiar faces. So why, on laundry day, when you’re wearing a “Math Masters” T-shirt, do you run into that attractive kid from your economics lecture? Or, when you’re in a hurry, why is it you keep seeing people who lived down the hall from you the year before? They want to know what you’ve been up to all summer since they’re done for the day and assume you have all the time in the world. In your head, you think of how perfect it would be to shove them aside and keep on walking. Nothing bugs me more than being socially assaulted when all I want is to get to class.

Professors add their own flavor of craziness to the college mix. There is a wide array of fashionistas in the teaching world. Their clothing ranging from Zubaz pants, jackets with elbow patches to the same plaid shirt every day of class. It seems whatever decade they began teaching in is the one their clothing never leaves. Not that there is anything wrong with capes – everything comes back in style eventually.

The fact that professors can do whatever they want is a little unnerving.

If they don’t want to spend time correcting tests, there are no tests. They can ramble on and on about something completely off-topic, but mention at the end, “Oh, by the way, all that will be on the final.” Professors can let classes out early, cancel them at the drop of a hat, or fail to announce that – on the day of the guest lecturer – attendance will be taken. If you’re taking a full-credit load, it’s enough work trying to keep class policies straight. Professors have a lot of freedom and they use every drop of it.

Most have teaching assistants. They end up being minions of the professor. It’ll be obvious on the first day. When it comes time to pass out the syllabus, they quickly jump up and grab a stack, wandering the rows distributing their wares while the professor leans back in a chair and watches. Their office hours are listed and it is stressed you should visit them with questions and not bother the professor with your meaningless garble. If you mistakenly ask the professor a question, the automatic response is to “go ask the TAs.”

It is amazing that with all of these erratic happenings, we all don’t go insane. Balancing a routine of toting around 3,000-page literature books and taking midterm tests two weeks before the end of the semester is tricky. Many days, it’s easier to turn off that blaring alarm than to get up and go to class. But school isn’t all that bad. Think of all the friends that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for economic lectures or biology labs. Going to class was fun in elementary school. In all actuality, not that much has changed. School will always be school. The only difference is, as we get older, we’ll have to learn how to fix the leaky faucets ourselves.