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Content Any Way U Want It!

BG Falcon Media

Content Any Way U Want It!

BG Falcon Media

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Embrace higher education as chance to learn, despite stress, workload

The end of the semester is in sight.

All the hard work done early in the term has paid off and now we can all coast and reap the rewards of hard work, right?

Let me get back to reality. Get off your tail, quit procrastinating, and finish strong. As a graduate student I must tell you a little secret: this applies to us also.

End of semester stress is real, it is palpable, and it is ever-present. None of us are immune to it. That being said, I feel we should savor it.

As some of you know, I am firmly ensconced in middle age. I am 42 and I am loving school.

Sure, papers are a chore as are exams, but they do pay off in the end; and I do not mean monetarily. They pay off in a much deeper way.

I started college in the fall of 1990 at age 19. I did not earn my bachelor’s degree until 2011 at the age of 40.

Yes, there were many stops and starts during that time and I racked up student loans I will not pay off until I am 121, but I learned much from classes and life.

This column is about both.

As a fat teenager, life can be hard.

It is not nightmarish, but it stripped all confidence out of all me. I always had the smarts to do well in college; that was not the issue.

What was the issue was a deep-seeded self-loathing that ruined every attempt to do well academically.

This self-hatred led me to be academically dismissed from our University in 1999. As you can certainly infer, academically dismissed means I flunked out. I was not allowed back into the University for five years.

The shame and disgust that accompanies flunking out is strong. I did not tell anyone about it for years.

Until this column today, my dad still does not know the truth. I lied to friends, acquaintances and my family. I just could not possibly tell them the truth.

The same University that drummed me out in 1999 welcomed me back in 2008. I cherished this second chance and I earned better grades than I had since the seventh grade.

More important than grades though was the experience. I learned to control stress and savor learning. I began to love and yearn for learning.

I made life-long friends whom I adore. I viewed my professors as friends and people I could trust. I can say I truly, absolutely and completely loved my three years of a second chance at BGSU-Firelands.

Is graduate school more stressful?

You bet it is. It certainly is not more stressful than flunking out, hating myself and seeing school as a chore or a means to an end.

That is why I implore you and myself to truly indulge in the cliché of stopping to smell the roses. These college years are flat-out terrific. Make your first chance count, do not squander it like I did.

Enjoy yourselves, but enjoy learning too. Thirst for fun but also thirst for knowledge. Remember the University as not just a place you studied and got your degree or as a wind-swept MAC school.

Remember it as where you formed part of what you are.

Remember it as an oasis in our chaotic lives.

Let these thoughts carry you as we finish our exams and papers.

Respond to Paul at

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