Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Wanderer's Map

I met with a student today who wanted to declare a major, but wasn't quite sure what, and hadn't decided on a minor, either, but had acquired enough credits to be a senior.

I know what the school wants us to do is lay down the line about such students. They MUST graduate, now, now, very now.

And yet, I sort of have sympathy for intellectual wandering.

It was clear, because the student said so, that the student is pretty stressed out about not having a major (does now!) and not really having a plan to graduate. But that's where I come in, because if nothing else, I can help students see how we can create a plan and map things out a bit. Of course, the map will change if the student decides to switch fields again, but at least there's a hint of a map in place now.

Weirdly, I like students who've done some wandering, though I know the administrative folks get frustrated (because it gives us poor ratings and such), and I can imagine that parents and loved ones worry. But I feel like I can help them figure out a possible path, and I enjoy that. And how long they take to get through really isn't my worry, because I'm not paying their tuition. (Though, of course, as a taxpayer, I am contributing. But I'm willing to contribute. Heck, I'm willing to contribute more than the state asks me to, because I think all our students need better educational opportunities.

So while I have no stake in the outcome, only want a student to get a good education and be as happy as possible in this miserable, brutish, and sometimes too short life, I do get satisfaction in thinking that I may have helped make things a little less miserable and brutish.

Sometimes, that's as good as the week gets.

1 comment:

  1. That's an achievement. My department had its undergraduate awards and Phi Alpha Theta (history honor society) induction on Monday. The Phi Alpha Theta speaker (our ancient historian, Carlin Barton) talked about the need to do what you felt drawn to do, even if it seemed impractical, crazy, or pointless to people whose aim was to build up their portfolio or die with more money than others--or even those who just wanted to know the practical benefit of majoring in the humanities. She has an engaging way of disarming her audience, but I think many of the parents in the audience were feeling a little bit uncomfortable.