Saturday, December 4, 2010

An Open Letter To My Students

It has arrived, the end of the semester that is. On facebook, I've been seeing quite a bit of "I'm ready for Christmas Break" or "Why do the professor's save all the work for the end?" or even, "I give up!"

Well, don't give up! And let me challenge you - All of your professors have been right where you are. None of us have any desire for our work to be punitive or overwhelming. It is, however, all a part of the process of learning. The lectures (and hopefully lecture notes!) reading, the discussions, the papers, the casual conversation in hallways, soccer fields and offices, the blogs and the exams all work together to shape the knowledge that is going into your brain and shapes how you live your lives and eventually perform at your vocation.

More than anything, your time at university is about learning. Not simply knowledge accumulation, but about opening yourself up to new worlds and new processes. It's about understanding why life is what it is and how each area of knowledge - humanities, sciences, kinesiology-sports and faith contribute to making you a human being and to help you understand how the world in which you live works. University is more than simply earning a degree so you can prepare for a career, it's about shaping you as a person.

This time in your life comes only once. We are 18-24 years of age only one time around. There really aren't any 'do-overs'. You began soaking in knowledge at an unbelievable rate at about 18 months of age. You learned like a sponge soaking up water until you were about 12; then it began to slow a bit. You began to process more. You began to think about the opposite gender - boyfriends and girlfriends. You began to think about skills, talents, careers - the future. What did you want to do and to be. Well university is the capstone to that process. Everything begins to fall into place for you here - career, graduate school and even family.

Every classroom, every lecture, every assignment provides you an opportunity - an opportunity to learn and to find a way to apply that knowledge to your life, in some small way, that will make you a better person; and eventually a better professional, better spouse and a better parent.

University is your moment, your opportunity. Don't miss it because you are tired or bummed. Talk to your professors about learning. They will honor your request, I promise you I will.