Friday, November 13, 2015

The Struggles of Full-Term Classes

The beginning of each new term is a fresh start, and new classes have immense potential. Even if I’m not initially interested in a particular class, I might find out by the end of the term that I want to pursue that particular subject even further. At the same time, classes I’d thought would be interesting can be disappointing. The anticipation is often hard to deal with, especially in the week leading up to the beginning of the new term. I wait on pins and needles for my textbooks, and then I wait some more until the syllabus shows up on Blackboard. And then finally the new term is in session, and I start down the 16-week long path toward finishing my newest batch of classes.

My hopeful, optimistic attitude toward my new classes usually lasts for the first five weeks of the term. I like to call this period of time the “Honeymoon Phase.” During the Honeymoon Phase, my assignment completion behaviors are radically different from the rest of the term. I work ahead in my classes, tirelessly completing assignment after assignment, and imbibing homework with my own personal touch and an extra amount of effort. I call this period of time the Honeymoon Phase mostly because of the fact that nothing can destroy my optimism, not even a heavy assignment load or a teacher that lacks communication skills. I dismiss any problems with the teacher as unintentional miscommunication, and I welcome the idea of challenging, time-consuming assignments. But at five weeks, everything changes.

At week five, homework becomes less fun, and more work. I start spending extra amounts of time on things like brushing my teeth and making breakfast to avoid the inevitable fact that I will have to do my homework at some point. And when I do start on my assignments, my focus is on getting things done rather than making them the best I can. However, five weeks into my classes, the positive attitude that I had at the beginning of the term lingers in my consciousness. Between five and nine weeks, things aren’t so bad. I procrastinate, but not a lot, and despite the fact that I don’t really want to do my homework, I still find the class material relatively interesting. At this time, I wonder if I’ll be able to keep up a positive outlook on my classes until the end of the term, and end the term without any negative feelings whatsoever.

I haven’t had this experience yet.

By the middle of term, sometime around week nine, I’ve had enough. I wake up in the morning, and instead of looking forward to sitting down at my computer to do my homework, all I feel is dread. I still work to make sure my homework fulfills the criteria, but all in all, I’m really working to just “get it done.” Sometimes I have some fun doing certain assignments, and wish I could spend more time on them, but this doesn’t happen very often. I have to really like the class and the homework, or honestly, I just don’t care and I want the term to be over with. By the middle of the term, I’ve usually started counting down the days until the end of the term.

After the mid-point of the term passes, my perspective on the term doesn’t change much. I continue feeling dread toward doing my homework, I try to get things done as fast as possible without skipping over any important criteria, and I check my calendar daily to see how many days are left until the end of the term. And though I know at the beginning of the term that I will reach a point when I’m not interested in my classes anymore, I still start off being excited. I really enjoy the first five weeks of my classes, and have a lot of fun with my assignments. After five weeks though, I feel disenchanted, and usually would much rather explore the subject material without homework hanging over my head. Or I just feel disenchanted because I’m not interested in the class material, and never was.

Ultimately though, I look back on all the classes I’ve taken, and I’m glad that I took them, even if they were difficult to get through. After I get some distance from that term’s classes, I realize that I learned a lot more that I thought that I did, and that actually, I had fun. Instead of being annoyed by the heavy assignment load in one class, or the teacher that was hard to deal with, I feel proud of myself for finishing the class. I know that taking difficult classes that have frustrating “I-don’t-think-I-can-do-this” moments isn’t exactly a traditional definition of fun, but they are interesting, and definitely keep my attention occupied. So even when I become uninterested, and I don’t wanna do my homework anymore, I try to remember that at some point I’ll look back and be amazed at what I learned. So when the going gets rough, I’ve just got to keep going, because it will pay off in the end.

Lydian Shipp

Webzine Team Member

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