Another school year is about to begin. And as far as new starts go, I favor this one over any other — even the dawn of a new calendar year.
Returning to the classroom, which I will also be doing after taking the summer off from my Masters Degree program, revs me up in so many ways. Here are my favorite things about starting school.
1. A clean slate
The school year brings a deliciously fresh start. Everyone gets to start on a new page, literally.
2. A new teacher
It’s exciting to get a new teacher. You start off with high hopes. Of course, those dissipate, a little or a lot, as the days and weeks roll by. But the first few classes are kind of like an academic honeymoon.
This might sound goofy or geeky, but I just love diving into new subjects and learning new things. Back to school means back to learning.
I’m halfway through my Masters Degree in Public Administration at Cleveland State University. Each time school re-starts, I’m that much closer to finishing my program.
During this program, I’ve taken two classes that were online. And I really came to dread them. It’s so much harder to interact with classmates when you’re enrolled in the same class, but you aren’t sitting together in the same classroom. In the other, regular courses, some of my classmates became good friends. And I definitely learned from them, too.
Starting a new school year means focusing on new goals. Each new class is a series of milestones: papers, reading assignments, midterms and a final. I like the ease of built-in goals that I don’t have to set — just meet. (As a former journalist, I guess I really need a deadline to get down to business!)
7. Campus life
I’ve grown fond of the barista at the coffee shop I frequent on my walk to class. I love the walking paths, the benches, the buildings and the whole college feel of the place. I graduated with my undergraduate degree 25 years ago. So, these days, I dip my toes into college life only while I’m in class and on my way to and from it. It’s vicarious bliss.
8. Remembering that being an old dog doesn’t mean squat — except I’m an old dog
I am often among the oldest of the students in my classes. When I took the Graduate Record Examination to get into my Masters Degree program in 2010, I had to relearn subjects that I first had decades earlier and didn’t like… then, anyway. (think: algebra, geometry and so on.) I was determined not to pour money into a prep course, so I just buckled down and got it — enough to get in, anyway. And then I just kept going and took statistics first to get it out of the way. When I got my A in stats, I was ecstatic.
9. New gear
I love getting new books, notebooks, binders and such. The smell of the campus bookstore is a wonderful part of starting back to school in the fall.
School is a place where curiosity is expected; indeed, where it’s essential. Where a civil challenge to another’s statement is welcome. And where no great teacher wants to face a classroom of heads nodding yes. Fantastic!
11. Challenges that seem at least a little scary
No one said this would be easy. That stats class frightened the stuffing out of me. But going through those knee-knocking challenges — and persisting and surviving — makes us grow stronger and more capable, over time.
As a mom, a wife and a business owner with at least two careers in the rear-view mirror, being in school now helps me put my priorities in order. It’s more like a break. It is just class, after all — not life and death!
What do you remember loving about school? Anyone? (Bueller? Bueller?)
Featured image courtesy of fdecomite licensed via Creative Commons.
Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.
Hah, this came from your perspective as a student...and I thought it was going to be a Hallelujah post on getting your kids off to college.
There have been days when I've thought about going back to college...then I smack myself and say "get another hobby", read a book, etc. I think it is very cool if you are re-inventing yourself in pursuit of a dream! I've managed to reinvent myself a handful of times in my career. If I went back to college, it would probably be to pursue education or perhaps even sociology - but that would be more from a curiosity perspective like what you pointed out.