Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Viewing the "Homestretch" In a New Light

Note: This entry is as much an expression of opinion as it is a personal catharsis.

Every time I get one of his letters, I wonder how many freshmen actually heed Dean Siegel's words. Admittedly, I do my best to ignore the emails about the Freshmen Feasts (never finding them *that* appealing to warrant going) and the invitations to all of the events that he promotes (I have gone to one, but it included a former professor of mine with whom I had a very good working relationship). It is a bad habit, since he does some absolutely great work for the Class of 2011 that should not be neglected.

But I really do hope that freshmen don't ignore his latest letter, which speaks to the issue of mustering the ability to just push through the final six weeks of the spring semester:
You have six full weeks to live up to your own goals and you have to work against all the 'spring seductions' that Washington, DC will present. Yes, it will be 75 degrees one day soon and more than your books will beckon.
And it's true. The post-vacation blues are usually easy to get over, but knowing that I will be home in six weeks makes it extremely difficult. I suppose that going home in 4 weeks for the weekend only to return for the last two is a flatly stupid decision, but I think we all need moderation especially in these closing weeks.

So I approach Siegel's letter with some mixed emotions: he is absolutely right and people should not simply succumb to pressure and falter in the very end. But it is a hard request to make, and I definitely do think that it would be possible to succeed academically but also enjoy DC's "spring seductions" (although I suppose I will be doing that in the great, wonderfully chemical state of New Jersey).

But seriously, the Cherry Blossom Festival is irresistible, so why pass it up? The main point is, as students we should not have to force ourselves into a false dilemma. Succeeding academically and enjoying life in the District, while it may be a little bit harder towards the end of the semester, do not have to be opposing goals.

I recognize that is a different type of call to action (but it does deal with behavior). It is simply that as students we should slow it down, scale back our nerves and take advantage of our last opportunities to enjoy the capital city while still pulling through our finals. Siegel also mentioned Fall 2008 registration, which will begin in April as another reason not to become complacent in the warm weather. But that still feeds into the idea of the false dilemma.

We can calmly choose our classes and complete our assignments, breathe in the air, visit the cherry blossoms in the same time period. There is no need to go berserk and forget about the nicer things in life, especially in a city that usually smacks of scandal.

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