I understand that the new academic year has just begun, but I’m calling it now: This semester sucks. I am not alone on this judgment call, mind you. On the first day of class, I overheard students saying they were considering jumping in front of a bus (I’m guessing they want the free tuition. If this strategy has worked for any readers, please contact me. We need to talk strategy). I’ve also heard students mention that they could make more at Déjà Vu than they could going into debt for a degree in business.
I get it. Really. I am a history major with an English minor and a social studies endorsement all for secondary education. I have been in college since my junior year of high school. I took summer classes while working full-time. I still have two years left if all goes well. And teaching has a below average starting salary. Great.
Already in this semester I have Googled the transfer policies of disparate universities, checked to see if the substitute teaching outlook is good enough for me to drop out and do that full-time and still work regularly, mourned when my financial aid loans kicked in via cookies and Pop-Tarts and Netflix and attempted to sleep face-down with my head between two pillows with two blankets over my entire being and prayed that the cold, cruel hand of death came for me before I woke up.
But then I did wake up. And then classes began. Last year, I still had this little ray of hope the size of the solar eclipse if you couldn’t afford glasses and had to look at it through the peep hole of a cardboard box.
This year, I wish I had looked into the solar eclipse and went blind so I would have an excuse not to be here. Alas, I was too busy watching “The Office” for the 29th time and missed it completely.
Since I didn’t go blind, I went to all six of my classes and felt not one ounce of joy or excitement. Instead, I passively took notes and recited “The Point of No Return” from Phantom of the Opera in my head–well, mostly in my head. And then I thought about something. Why am I here, anyways? At what point did I decide I had to have a career that requires a four-year degree? Like so many of my teachers have said, there is no one job that will make you happy. There’s lots of them.
For a while, I thought one of those jobs could be subbing, which only requires 60 credits and a subbing permit. Free at last. But then I messed up. I subbed a lot and I loved it. Even when a little sixth-grade boy came up to me and asked me if I was a “female dog” (that’s not what he said) because it was my time of the month, I loved it. Because I started thinking of ways to stop that behavior, and I did stop it.
And then I kept thinking back to Liz Lemon, Tina Fey’s character from “30 Rock,” and something she always said: “I want to go to there.”
I do want to go to there–that is, I want to be in a classroom, and I want to be in there for more than just a day. I want to go to there and make connections with students and make lesson plans and deal with behavioral issues.
This is the only reason why I think I haven’t dropped out. Thank you, boorish sixth-grade boy. Whenever I think of dropping out or switching majors so I can actually graduate in four years, I think back to all those subbing experiences I had. And, again, I remember that I want to go to there.
To be sure, this semester is going to suck. I will still have doubts about whether or not getting a bachelor’s is worth it. That may surprise those who know me, especially considering I am a well-performing student who is pretty involved on campus.
So, for those of you who have doubts and feel overwhelmed right now, I hope you take some comfort in the fact that you’re most definitely not alone.
In the meantime, I will push through those doubts. I will go to my classes and jobs and organizations and feel exhausted and watch too much Netflix and eat too much.
And I won’t drop out. Because I want to go to there.