Editorial: College education an opportunity

Editorial: College education an opportunity

Ah, the first week of school. Sharpened pencils, empty notebooks, unbent folders. New teachers, 4-page syllabi, 50 pages of reading for tomorrow. We’re back at it again, and you’ve probably already heard a few complaints about how many assignments there are or how boring professors were. Freshmen, that summer camp feeling will quickly dissipate, and adjusting to homework will be the order of the day. College is a lot of work. Balancing work and social life takes energy, and the academic expectations, particularly at Calvin, are high.

We complain, we stay up late, we write terrible papers. There’s something to remember, though — something I was reminded of by Pastor Mary’s portion of the convocation celebration this past Tuesday. Each of the freshmen had a luggage tag at their chairs on the floor of the arena. Those tags were all adorned with a specific color sticker, and the students participated in an excellent visual representation of the world’s population. The stickers were distributed to represent a certain percentage of Earth’s 7 billion. So when Pastor Mary asked those with an orange sticker to stand up, the audience was presented with a view of how many people in the world live on under $2 a day. Those with a green sticker represented the population who were illiterate. And those with a gold sticker, just 3 percent, represented the number of people in the United States with a college degree.

You’ve heard this all before. College is a privilege. You’re lucky to be here. But really, take a moment to think about it. For many of us, college was probably expected. For a few, it took a lot of work. We’re all here now, though, and it’s really something so savor. So few people in the world have this opportunity, yet sometimes it seems all we can do is complain about it.

This year, aim to take joy in your work. Learning is, or at least it should be, fun. Take pride in homework, speak up in class. Find a way to relate all of your classes to your life and your future. There are so many lessons waiting to be learned here, you just have to be ready to discover them.

When the urge strikes to complain about a professor or slack off on a paper, imagine the young girl dreaming of becoming a doctor who will realistically never make more than $10 an hour. Feel guilty? You should. Not taking advantage of your college opportunity is one of the worst crimes of conscience you can commit.

I don’t mean to preach. Well, maybe a little. I’m guilty of these same crimes. But taking a moment of appreciation for the gift we’ve been given is the least we can do.