At the beginning of the year, I thought May would never come. I was ready for the end of the semester as
soon as it began. The end is now six days away and among several thoughts I have, is “No, wait. Just one more day, please.”
Am I anxious, fearful, or just excited by the thought of graduating? Maybe the idea of watching
guilt-free television without my laptop or books giving me dirty looks is unsettling to me.
No matter the reason for these feelings, I’m reviewing this chapter of my life to see how I would edit it, if I could. I’m not trying to wax poetic or be reverently reflective (screw that,) but maybe my notes may be useful to some students and even a couple of faculty.
1) Take (more) action. “There are two good things in life – freedom of thought and freedom of action,” eloquently said by British playwright W. Somerset Maugham. While the obscure reference is not important, to remember students have a voice is. With that voice comes the responsibility to use it. I wish I had questioned our campus leaders more, both student and faculty, especially when their actions and words were incongruous.
If students take any action at all, no matter how small, that can only help in the following:
2) Change the commuter campus to a community campus. I’m as commuter as they come. Often I would I would blow in at the nick of time to get to class (or in many cases, substantially after the nick of time) and blow back out again, not giving myself the chance to really plug in to the surroundings and people. I encourage students to work on building a college community and try to rid the campus of the drive-in feel.
3) Embrace the diversity. Students and faculty of various ages, ethnicities, professions, and backgrounds are all around you; the abundance is almost too big to grasp. Each one of us is an incredible resource for the other. Use it and return it when asked. I guarantee, you will look back and wonder why you didn’t. It’s rare that resources like this will be at your immediate disposable any other time in your life.
Taking it down a notch, I’d like to address a smaller group: the professors and faculty in the east wing of Manzanita Hall:
4) The verb “advise” is the root of the noun “advisement.” Like all journalism students, I underwent mandatory advisement each semester. The best advisement appointment was administered by a teacher who has since retired. She took time and care; she gave suggestions and options. She even walked me down to the journalism office to be sure I got what I needed. While the office escort was not a necessary component of every advisement session, the small gesture went a long way.
I am not advocating handholding; students are adults (or should be.) No matter how adult they may be, though, applicable guidance is still needed. When asking an adviser questions, it’s disheartening to hear back “I don’t know,” or “it depends,” without it being followed by a suggestion or possible action to take. Teachers, please remember, as an adviser or not, you see hundreds of students in the same amount of time we see just tens of professors. A little interest and time goes a long way.
With that said, I’ve encountered some phenomenal teachers who are helpful and willing to work side by side. Those are the professors I will remember the most; for that, I am grateful.
5) Keep that curriculum rolling. I’ve heard that several journalism professors have proposed a revamped curriculum, one that would teach skills that are imperative for the constantly evolving field. No doubt in my mind the logistics of implementing new classes and changing syllabi would be a monstrous pain in the ass. I implore that you not let that stop you from making changes. The safety net of tenure or even the four walls of your classroom, does not excuse you from stepping outside your comfort zone and doing what is best for your students who are entering journalism at an unprecedented time. Put your self in our shoes; how would you fare in your job search in this current market?
Some of my peers have said they do not feel ready to enter the employment race and compete among students who do feel ready and armed. Yes, students need to do the footwork for their own success; however, if that quest can be encouraged by a relevant curriculum, then I give a resounding “amen.”
The potential for growth and improvement lies with everything we do. Conversely, there is always good in everything we see and I saw that it was easy to find it at CSUN; remember that good should be acknowledged as fervently as the bad.
More importantly, action is infectious. The possibilities are infinite right here and out there, too.