During this time, late in the semester, it is very easy to find yourself hating all things academic.
The three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas fly by so fast — making it feel like they will never end. Homework is piling up, you are knee deep in finals preparation and the anticipation of winter break is building. Even when the final semester stretch makes you feel like there is no end in sight, it's important to remember how lucky we are, as students, to have the chance to pursue higher education.
In November, The Minnesota Daily published an article following John Hartman and Michele Gersich– two senior citizens currently taking classes at the University of Minnesota. The University's Senior Citizen Education Program (SCEP) affords Minnesota residents who are over the age of 62 the opportunity to audit classes for free or for $10 per credit. In 2018, the University enrolled 420 students in SCEP, which was a 33 percent increase from 2016, according to Daily reporting.
The stories followed in the article are heartwarming and encouraging. Unless you have seen them in your classes, you very seldom think about the number of older adults that choose to take university courses.
That got the Daily's Editorial Board thinking.
Not only is it easy to take our education for granted, but it is also easy to forget about the experiences of other students who we may not explicitly relate to.
When we are surrounded by others who share similar thoughts, opinions and experiences, we are more apt to remain in our own social echo-chamber. Having students in our classes that reflect different walks of life, or have lived in generations prior to ours, gives us the opportunity to hear new perspectives.
It's OK to be presented with challenging ideas and beliefs from others. It should motivate us to dig deeper into our own learning and encourage us to communicate with the world around us. Those are some of the basic skills the University wants us to walk away with after graduation — skills that are essential for daily life.
Deciding to attend college is a decision many of us made at a young age. It's often accompanied with the pressure from adults within our society to pursue higher education in order to further ourselves in the workforce. Without even thinking about it, many of us take this opportunity for granted.
During times when we feel like giving up on our educational pursuits or feel that a degree is not worth the time spent, we need to strive to remind ourselves of the opportunities we have been presented with. But most importantly, we need to remember what we can do with them to go forth and better our world.
Whether it be a Vietnam veteran taking classes to learn and advance their academic skills, or a college freshman looking to build a successful future, receiving an education is a privilege that no one should take for granted. Knowledge is a gift that we should be grateful to receive.