The holidays have slowly receded into memory, and another term of school is upon us. It was a welcome break, but perhaps not quite the same refuge from the hectic schedule at McMaster as it is for many other students. I had a great deal of free time, and wonderful festivities with my family, although there was a void that required resolve to overlook.
My mother passed away in February of last year, and this was the first Christmas that any of us experienced without her. That made it difficult, while at the same time, empowering, because overcoming that challenge with grace, fortitude, and the diligence to make Christmas memorable for everyone else was daunting.
An enjoyable holiday, but I am glad to be back to the academic life. I missed it.
With that being said, as I prepared to get back to writing for the Sil, I glanced over their website in search of ideas and to absorb the opinions shared through the social media platforms that are injected there. While browsing through, particularly the student feedback, I couldn’t help but notice an overwhelming response from many students with a recurring theme that disturbed me. Namely, that “university is overrated.”
In this issue, I intend to vehemently attack that distorted ideology. It reeks of self-entitlement, the salience of Western egocentrism, and a destructive naiveté that seems rampant in this age, a naiveté that is not only unbecoming of high caliber students such as us, but one that needs to be quashed where it stands.
Listen here; we are among the top 4-10% of the world in socioeconomic standing. We are privileged to lead the lives that we lead. We are those given the opportunity to make positive change in the world, to help the less fortunate, to create a better, brighter future for the generations to follow. Holding an attitude that you are “too cool for school,” that you aren’t learning anything, that the faculty of the Institution aren’t providing you with the tools and knowledge to create a better world, that is a reflection of your own inability to progress and grow, the onus of which belongs on nobody’s conscience but your own.
Sure, the curriculum can be outdated, distorted, repetitive, and confusing. The professors may be offensive, obtuse, unapproachable, or maladapted. The faculty itself could well be self-righteous, hierarchical, and disturbing. This depends entirely on how you choose to experience it. Nothing is perfect, nor will it ever be. However, it can be better. This is our duty, a duty we undertake armed with the knowledge, theories, and practical tools we are provided by, not just the immediate academics divulging to the very best of their ability, but to the brilliant minds that precede them, the minds that divulged unto them, and the minds before that.
We owe it to each other, and ourselves, to not paint this experience in a negative light, to not be intellectual hipsters partying in the caboose of the “too cool for school” train, to not be so short-sighted as to believe that the raw material provided here is less than the ultimate tool with which to shape our own destiny, and create the change we want to see in the world. Open your eyes, take a deep breath, and experience some gratitude for the decades of hard work, accomplishment, sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears that went into each piece of brick and mortar sheltering your body from the freezing cold whilst sheltering your mind from ignorance, dejection, and horror. Taking this experience for granted is what is really overrated. It doesn’t make you look cool, it doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, and it most certainly doesn’t make you any friends. At least, not the right ones.