[Columns, letters or cartoons published are the work of the attributed author and do not necessarily represent the official views or opinions of “The Highland Echo.”]
Listen up, twerps. If any of you are smart enough to keep track of my fortnightly columns, you surely realize by now that I’m someone with really strong opinions. I see an issue, I determine what’s the best side to take, and then I spend all my effort forcefully attacking those whose opinions differ even slightly.
So far, you can count Shakespeare, Anne Hathaway and “The Lorax,” among others, as the victims of my assault.
My columns are hugely popular.
People stop me on the paths between Anderson and Fayerweather, or Thaw and Pearsons and beg me to sign their notebooks, shoes, babies etc.
I’m constantly blitzkrieged by beautiful ladies and gentlemen. It can get rough, but I wouldn’t trade that kind of wanton hero-worship for the world, especially when I’m the hero. You, too, could have this kind of success.
But you probably won’t. The thing about our generation is that we don’t want it. We listen to bands whose lyrics are so abstract and disaffected as to become meaningless.
We watch movies featuring people who can’t act, but we send our emotional supplications to them because they contain people that look like they’re “indie.”
If we read books, we read them like we’re supposed to, reading good books for good thoughts and bad books to kill time.
Often, we wait for the movie or television show to come out and claim the book is better, even when it’s really not.
If we had a football coach, some type of millennial Bill Parcells or Mike Gundy, we’d be running laps until we puked.
Our generation, blessed with the biggest tire-fire of an economy since the Greatest Generation, are more concerned with looking the part rather than acting the part. If our grandfathers and grandmothers were able to win a war, fix an economy and advance social justice while being the world’s breadbasket, the world’s factory and the world’s bank, then surely we can get into the act of living.
William Deresiewicz, a fellow long-named brilliant writer, says that “universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers.”
In the same article, he calls out some Ivy League and other “big name” institutions for being more concerned with churning out rich graduates than churning out graduates who have really challenged themselves.
He thinks that students that go to institutions with less prestige than Harvard or Yale often get better educations than students who go to those schools, as the culture at other schools is more about educating the whole person, rather than just assigning the student an A-minus and giving them access to their alumni network.
Well, I love this school, and I agree with sentiment, though I can’t speak personally to the comparison.
I do know that it’s true that every professor I’ve met here has been open, honest, engaging and truly concerned with the development of the students. The administration, likewise, doesn’t view students as just a potential future donor. This school has a reputation of being challenging, and it’s not just from schoolwork.
That said, there’s a funny thing about this challenge: It requires engagement from both sides. You should be challenging your professors and the administration as much as they want to challenge you.
Unless you are planning to go to graduate school, your life is going to have a sum total of about four years where you are surrounded by really smart people who want to hear what you have to say.
Outside of institutions like Maryville, you’re lucky to get one of the two.
It’s a combination of having people whose job it is to think and whose passion it is to help you learn how to think.
You’re really not going to get another chance to have conversations like you could outside of this place. It ought to be a privilege.
Don’t just settle for the four years and a degree. You could have the world.