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.
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.