First Year Vibes: Remembering What’s Important in College

Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor

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Contrary to what some people in academia may think, I do not believe education is the most important thing in life. In no way do I mean to suggest that education is useless; in fact, being a student throughout the course of my life has taught me more about life than I would have ever imagined. I also realize what a privilege it is to be able to attend school, especially at the university level.

However, sometimes I just want a break from school– I am aware that we just got back from a month long break, but even then I was preparing for my upcoming classes. Between homework, homework, and more homework, days pass where I let other important things slip through my hands.

I might promise a friend I will eat breakfast with her, only to eat cereal in my room instead because I want to sleep for just a few more minutes, since I had to stay up all night finishing my reading assignments. I might have to cut back on my exercising (which is the only thing that alleviates symptoms from my heart condition) because I have to study for a test longer than I had expected. When I am in school, I lose my temper easier, I say things I do not mean in moments of stress, and I forget what my priorities are; of course, school is and always has been one of them, but should it be number one?

When I sacrifice breakfast for sleep, I may gain more minutes of sleep, but I miss out on conversations with a friend. When I cannot run on the treadmill as long as I want, I have to deal with dizziness for the rest of the night all for the sake of a grade. When I lose my temper because I have an intimidating presentation the next day, I hurt people I love. Is getting one point higher on an essay really worth missing a phone call with my mother back home who deeply misses her child?

When I see my QPA at the end of the semester or get my research paper grade, I tell myself all the sacrifices are worth it; but, if I am being completely honest, sometimes I wonder if it really was worth it. How am I supposed to balance being a loving, caring human being when I am a full-time student who has a thousand assignments that demand all my time and attention? This is the conflicting feeling I have dealt with since as long as I can remember, but it has gotten especially worse in college.

Throughout my life, I often make (though it happens accidentally) academics more important than many things in my life, and I do not want to continue. As cliche as it sounds, when I die one day, I do not want to be known as just a good student or someone who excelled in her major. That is great, but that is not enough for me. When I think about people I have lost, I don’t think wow, he was so dedicated to his job, but wow, he was so dedicated to his wife, his faith, his children, his students, his friends…you get the idea. This semester, I promise to work hard in school, but also remember what, or rather, who, is truly important in my life.