I have always believed education to be a gift. I mean, it is a human right up to a certain age but past that point, then it’s a gift surely? To be allowed to read and write stuff – to create strings of words in a way no one has ever done before is a gift. That precious time spent thinking about the way facts fit together, pulling together your thoughts into something someone, somewhere, has to read is something wonderful. In exchange for a 2000 word essay, derived from reading and reflecting at postgraduate level taking up maybe 7-8 hours of your time, then someone will have to spend a couple of hours reading and considering what you have said. It is a wonderful opportunity to be allowed to create something like that.
The amount of reading and thinking you do before an assignment is, usually, reflected in the grade you get back. To be clear, I’m sure we have all gotten a piece of academic work back from our reader and are bummed out at the grade, but when you reflect upon it (and maybe read that feedback your reader has given you to help your next attempt) maybe you realise that the grade given is a fair reflection of the work you did. I’m sure, in fact, that most of the time it is a fair reflection of the amount of work you did. Even if you are one of those polymath, instant-soaker-upper-of-material kind of a person, you still have to think to write an essay. Regurgitating facts doesn’t get you very far after a certain point in education. It’s that thinking time that’s the real gift of higher education. Being given the space to think and conjure up ideas that maybe no one else have ever thought of before is invaluable. When you get a good grade, it means that your reader appreciated the time you spent thinking about the question they set you. Trust me, reading as much as you can and being given the time and freedom to think about what you have read, may never ever happen to you again the second after you graduate.
There will come a time when you make it into the workforce. You get the job you wanted and people start giving you money for the work that you do. When this happens (unless you become a university lecturer, I guess) you will have to fight to find the time and space to think; to reflect and maybe write about the product of your reflection. You will have to decide that thinking or writing is a greater priority than tidying the kitchen or cooking something reasonable to eat. Sometimes it might be that writing is a luxury use of what little free time you have. Eating and tidying are really important, after all. As is settling down, having a family and a life. All of these are great things, but they are also things that reduce the time you have to think and write about the product of your thoughts when you are no longer a student.
But here is the real kicker. Even if you do read and reflect and think and create thoughts that no one else has ever thought, then no one might ever read it. No one has to read the stuff you produce anymore. Even if the words you type or write are absolutely perfect…Even if each one was ripped from your very soul, never again will someone have to read the stuff you write.
Yes, being a student is something very precious.
Think about that for five minutes before you start your next assignment.