It is a universally accepted truth that the most dangerous (and inescapable) question to ask as a student is which school (say high school) you attended. It’s a conversation crutch as old as the university itself, which either squashes any possibility of connection by quickly realizing you’re from diverse backgrounds and might as well ask for directions back to your comfort zone, or one the inevitable path of the friendly match together, which inspires no one. A more thoughtful column that questions the cultural weight we carry the Question must await another edition and be written by an author who has not actually participated in any of the editions this Schools. Instead, I want to fully interrogate a different set of questions. More specifically, the question of when people graduate from college. And even more specifically, the kind of people who get a little too much fun from questioning and answering because of course they’re right on schedule with their study schedule. This column will disillusion us with a propaganda model, argue for a shift in the norms of conversation, and then lay out my personal belief that graduating on time is downright embarrassing and indeed a sign of failure.
Let’s stick it to the man first. Unless this is the first edition of honey Once you’ve opened up, it won’t be news to you that the corporatization of higher education has been happening for some time. Students are now both the consumers and the product. The sun seems to set on days when classrooms are fertile ground for discovering passion or contributing to a broader awareness of public knowledge and citizenship. Course offerings have been cut back, public funds and funding models have been redistributed, and the university has been redesigned to optimize the efficient production of job-ready graduates. What’s more, the time that is normally given to new generations to accumulate values and realize visions has been compressed. Youth culture is now work culture, or even more precariously, hustle culture. We are now being told that the only degrees worth pursuing are those that clearly fit into business, and we should adjust and set our study plans accordingly. And those who carry this message, with a business in marketing and selling us as products, are universities. Leisure time and community on campus, the formative aspects of one’s personal, political and playful identity, are invested less and less by management – and consequently by ourselves. The time we have on campus should be spent working or preparing for work. It pays to get productive, and fast. I advise against internalizing and accepting this idea or at least doing it uncritically.
Second, what are your legitimate reasons for closing punctual!? There are many reasons why study loads are shifted, be it caregiving responsibilities, mental health, employment, etc. Yet somehow the prevailing norms place the burden on students to be open about this and offer it to us, as if we had to judge whether these “excuses” are justified when, frankly, they are none of our business. What concerns us, however, is the tragic lack of circumstance that has led to a simple advance being so unaffected by happiness, inspiration, or distraction that a unified curriculum vitae has been circulated en masse to barely-adult people -getters through university bureaucracy still sit on their walls and is observed after so many years. And more importantly, recognizing an opportunity to acknowledge and fill that space in the conversation.
Third, and even more passionately, a quick tree-ring exam of my calcified brain reveals course cuts, a pandemic, outbreaks of war, and a spate of natural disasters as the most recent intensive on the rollsheet of my college days. But forget those collective setbacks, I hope there were ways to make things move by recognizing what you think is important. Dare not live your life so ordinary, so undisturbed by troubles, or so unblessed by opportunities you have found Nothing is it worth readjusting a plan that someone else made for you?
Growing up in a time of change and you haven’t changed, have you?
Hearing that someone is on track with their progress understandably leaves the impression that they haven’t found anything better to do. Didn’t they make another plan in all this time, or worse, was this that plan? I have questions and you better have answers. Seriously, why the hell are you graduating on time? Did something go wrong, or rather, did nothing go right?