It's that time of year again, you know, the one of leaves falling and students contemplating their next moves. I have the bittersweet feeling of letting go, preparing myself as students move on to other courses, teachers, paths, just as I have truly begun to know and appreciate their diverse personalities. This time of year, I find myself meandering across campus in the early a.m. light and considering more than what I will cook for dinner later.
Instead, I mull over what to say to my students, especially as the semester approaches its closing with some of them considering withdrawing, perhaps even giving up completely. I can relate to those feelings of frustration and almost resignation. When I was an undergraduate at Mississippi State, I too had those feelings of being in a rat-race of papers, exams, responsibilities, bills, social events, family drama, work schedules. The list goes on. In fact, I withdrew the spring semester of my sophomore year. First of all, I was facing the dilemma of changing my major from Secondary Education to English, but that decision was not even remotely as stressful as knowing that my father was near death in a hospital bed of UAB.
I have heard Brad Paisley's "If I Could Write a Letter to Me" at times, and I have told myself that I would do just that one day. I would go back in memory to what I was like as an undergraduate student and think of my mishaps, poor judgments, my inconsistencies, and my daily habits that were probably some of my teachers' pet peeves.
Did I even know the difference between an undergrad versus a grad student at the time? Did I know how important it was to get to class on time or to use a salutation more formal than "Ay" in an email to my instructor? Did I realize how easily I could frustrate a financial aid employee by again phoning to ask when my refund would arrive or how I could aggravate my English instructor by proclaiming that I made straight A's in high school when she (how dare she!) gave me a C on my first essay?