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January 8, 2004
 Student View


Jumping into the winter

Katie Norman

The holiday season is over, the excitement of a vacation is waning and all that lies ahead is the winter semester. A new schedule is waiting to be memorized. A day spent in the student loans lineup is on the calendar for many of us and almost everyone is scrounging for those last few dollars to buy that expensive textbook. These tasks aren’t different than the ones we came through in September, yet despite all rationale supporting the idea that the fall and winter semesters are the same, they are in fact very different. This difference has little to do with the courses offered and has everything to do with the morale of campus. Two things impact this morale: an impending summer vacation and our marks from the fall semester.

Thinking through this process is a helpful exercise for all students because it allows onlookers to uncover what the students truly think about their university.

For most students the winter semester is all that stands between them and summer. Whether summer means a full-time job or simply loafing around your parent’s house, it is a break from the daily routine of lectures and studies that marks September through April. The idea that after these few months there is some degree of freedom waiting, has two very different affects on the student. One student chooses to buckle down and improve their fall GPA while the other student takes a super long spring break and hopes to scrape through. Despite the pathway chosen the winter semester always seems a little shorter than the fall, even if this is only based on a few cancelled classes due to snowstorms.

It is a divided campus. Students may be euphoric over their exam results or less than ecstatic. This leaves half of us confident and the others weary of what the upcoming 14 weeks hold. In September people have forgotten their marks from the previous year and feel more confident in their abilities. They are, hopefully, well rested and capable of improving their performance in the classroom. In January, however, only two and a half weeks have passed since they reviewed their performance on the Student Web.

These two elements add up to the fact that in the winter the newness of the school year has faded. There are fewer new students on campus and most people have settled into the routine of post-secondary education. No longer chained to the map of the Munnel system, first years hopefully have a greater confidence about the campus and their classes. The division between first years and all other students fades a little during these cold months. As the term goes on high school students visit the campus and people begin to shift focus. They look to the future, plan for jobs after graduation, contemplate majors and search for summer internships. The winter leaves me thinking about things outside the classroom and I am sure it has similar effects on my peers.

One of the ways that the preparations for the future is marked is by election. While clubs and societies often elect positions for the upcoming year, the major election that keeps many students interested is the MUNSU election. Whether political keenness, friends on council, or the possible conflictual and sometimes comedic appeal of council keeps students interested, it does help to boost interest in campus life. For a moment everyone begins to think about the things on campus they want to change and the areas that they feel our university excels at. Thinking through this process is a helpful exercise for all students because it allows onlookers to uncover what the students truly think about their university. It also allows students to develop their ideas on administrative bodies which will translate into their involvement in other political arenas.

A second way that the future is explored is through an increased interest in life after graduation. The Center for Career Development offers many ways for students to explore the possibilities of their degree. It is important to focus one’s activities on upcoming goals so that any returns may be maximized. An unpaid internship in your field of study is likely more beneficial in the long run than a job at the local convenience store. Obviously economics play a factor, but even volunteering a few hours a week in your field is a wise thing to do. Resume building and networking are two tasks that should be considered year-round but they seem to be more at the forefront during the winter semester.

Seize a valuable opportunity in the next few weeks. Join that club you put off in the fall, apply for a MUCEP job, and begin the search for a summer job. Run in an election to ensure an active role on campus in the upcoming year. Students should mix academics with plans for the future this semester and of course some leisure time. This mix is likely to be beneficial in the short term and the long term.


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Next issue: January 22, 2003

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