What’s the rush?

It’s finals time in University land. A strange time filled with out of control tired laughter and tears (often simultaneously). Immense amounts of caffeine. Struggling students and professors, alike. All of us – in one boat, rushing to get it all finished in the nick of time.

The fall semester always seems rough because of its proximity to a lot of other ‘stuff’ going on in Christian homes across the country. I’m sure you know what I mean…

It’s ironic, though. Finals week and Christmas time have so much in common…

Why are we in such a rush? This has been on my mind for quite some time, and it’s taken me some time (which is pretty normal) to organize my thoughts enough to actually get them onto paper (or screen). The idea of time, rushing, hurrying, getting to the end quickly…I don’t always understand this.

The rush to get the right present for the right person is overshadowed by being creative, by taking time, by being selective, by thinking. Thinking about that person. Not just getting something from their list; instead getting something from your heart and mind to theirs. I get that lists are important, I personally am not a fan. Sure, I like some ideas to go off of – but I actually don’t like going straight from a list.

I also don’t shop off of people’s gift registries (gasp…I hear gasp’s from soon-to be brides). How dare I go ‘off the list?’ Well, I dare. I know, I’m a COMPLETE rebel. Once in a while I even put my piece of bread in the wrong side of the toaster!!! (Again with the gasps).

I like to get something different. Something that the person hadn’t thought of. Something unique. Something fun. I think it’s related to my quest to know others. To really know them…not just on the surface. To really create human connection…something that is surely lacking in 2013.

I guess it’s how I view the world. Why does the world need to be so prescribed, why in such a rush? It’s the same as education…at all levels.

Why are our students in such a hurry? At the University level we deal with what is referred to as ‘dual-enrollment.’ Essentially, High School students take college level courses in an effort to come with credit hours. Many of our Freshman actually come as Sophomores (based on earned credit hours). Why? Well…it saves money to take these courses at their local community college and it puts them ahead in the registration process.

So, first the money saved. Well, I guess the larger question that I want to ask students is, ‘Are you here to get a degree or an education?’ These are two very different ideas. A degree is something that will sit on your shelf, hang on your wall. An education is something that you will take with you, that will forever affect your life. Lots of people have degrees…fewer have an education.

If you are satisfied with simply getting a degree. Fine, be in a hurry to graduate. Do it quickly, get it out-of-the-way so you can hurry into the ‘real world.’ I know you must be in a hurry to experience the wonderful working world. A world that is filled with fun and glorious high-earning potential. A world filled with time-off for friends and family. A world that allows for late nights and sleeping in. A world that encourages personal growth and fulfillment through volunteering in communities.

Take the economic approach. It will cost you less dollars.

The working world folks are currently in hysterics.

If you are more interested in growing as a person, expanding your perspective, meeting new and interesting people, understanding different viewpoints, and experiencing culture. Well then, slow down. Slow down and allow yourself to receive an education. Don’t begin in High School, most of these students (not all – because there are always exceptions) are not ready.

I teach College Freshman – I guarantee that the growth that occurs in the academic and emotional selves are immense during the first year of college. You are experiencing the first real ‘away from home.’ One of the reasons I love teaching College Freshman is that I get to be a witness to this growth. The difference between an August College Freshman and a May College Freshman is un-measurable. I have the distinct pleasure and opportunity to be a witness to this growth. I get to watch them become adults (well…most of them). It is a pleasure, it is wonderful, it is heart-warming. An example of this growth came from an unforgettable student last year…

In class we spent a class period talking about language and its affect on relationships. Specifically, how we must be thoughtful about our word choice. On the docket that day? Using the word ‘retarded.’ Offensive to some? You bet. My favorite moment is when I ask students to raise their hands and admit using the term in the past month. Then, I inform the class my son is on the Autism Spectrum. So when they refer to something being ‘retarded’ they are in fact offending me. The nature of the word derives from mental retardation – at one time, this is how folks on the spectrum were classified. Are you calling my son slow? Dumb? I hope not, because he’s incredibly bright and talented. I also love him like crazy, so you demeaning him will not go over well. The mama bear will make an appearance and absolutely fight. This particular conversation also lends itself to a conversation about the prevalence of the word ‘gay.’

He came to me in February and said, “I was just sitting there with some really good friends and we watched a video on youtube about homosexuality [Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ One Love]. I don’t really know why I am sharing this with you but it really touched me and made me really think about the way that I have responded to the topic. [tears began to well in his eyes] Different comments I have made that are definitely hateful towards people who have “same love”, just make me think about how much of an asshole I have been.”

Then, he followed with an email, “…Anyway, I thought this song/video slightly relates to the conversation we had the other day in class about slang words that our generation has taken to be normal conversation material. That’s really all I have to say, so here is the video. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!”

That is an education, not a degree. That is what happens when students aren’t in a hurry. That is what happens in Freshman-level courses across campuses.

Don’t take the economic approach. It will cost more dollars, but will provide realizations, epiphanies, and understandings of the human experience that you cannot learn anywhere else. These experiences will help you understand people in whatever profession you choose to pursue. It will cost more money. The trade-off is that you gain a better understanding of the things we often are unable to quantify. I cannot ‘measure’ your emotional intelligence (EI). However, we know that emotional intelligence matters in climbing the proverbial career ladder. From Chapter 2 of Daniel Goleman’s book, The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace, “In general the higher a position in an organization, the more EI mattered: for individuals in leadership positions, 85 percent of their competencies were in the EI domain.” Interesting, the skills that propel you to the top of your career choice do not come from a degree, but from an education.

So, if you are in High School…allow yourself to be in High School. Soon enough you will have the opportunity to experience college. It will be here soon enough. Allow yourself time to enjoy your friends and family, work a part-time job, participate in all of the extra-curriculars you want. Allow yourself time to be sill,y to enjoy 17, because you will NEVER get that carefree time back. Stop trying to get ahead. Slow down and enjoy it.

If you are in College…stop being in such a rush to get to the rush. Instead, enjoy a daily rush from taking it all in, from experiencing the daily gifts that life teaches us. Get your rush there…from life itself.

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