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A current junior on longing for class.
This blog post intends to dismantle a myth about Reed. The myth is that Reedies don’t do anything except work, that they never leave the library—that they read a million pages a night and write a hundred pages a day. I can disprove this myth simply using my current schedule. I’m taking three classes, two of which are as hard as any class I’ve taken. At the same time, I’m working as an Editor of theQuest (which consumes anywhere from 8 to 15 hours a week), as an Admissions Intern (6 hours a week) and as a Phonathon caller (6 hours a week). And I’ve still had ample time to watch old episodes of Hey Arnold! and Play Civilization V. I’ve had time to play with my cat, roast coffee, and learn how to knit.
The whole reason that I took on so much non-academic work (besides the obvious monetary benefits) was that I thought it would provide an engaging break from my academics. And it does. Getting to know prospective students at the admissions office reminds me of the exciting times of my own college search. Talking to alumni on the phone reassures me that I’ll probably be able to get a job when I graduate. Being a Quest editor, if nothing else, has taught me that the Quest Office is an excellent place for power naps.
But lately, I’ve had a problem.
I find myself longing for academics during my breaks. Sometimes, as I talk to alumni I find myself pondering what the thesis of my final paper should be. Should it be “Prayer has the power to both unite and divide a community” or “Prayer shuts the door of the status quo but opens the windows of dissent?” Sometimes, as I’m writing an article for the Quest, I’ll think about how Reed emulates utopian communities from places as disparate as 19th century America and the 8th century Middle East. So instead of sitting in class and daydreaming of sitting on the front lawn, I’m sitting at work and daydreaming of sitting in class. And I realized that sometimes, even when all my work is done, I’d rather be doing an extra bit of studying than anything else.
To me, this shows something really great about Reed - namely, that academic engagement doesn’t end when one walks out of the classroom. I still feel engaged with what I’ve learned in class after I leave. So I won’t be running for re-election for theQuest Board next semester- not because I’m too busy to get the work done, but because I want to be able to spend that extra hour on the reading I really love, or to be able to grab a secondary source from the library to add some context to my paper. The biggest myth about work at Reed is that Reedies have too much assigned work to be able to do anything else. In my case, and I feel this is the case for many Reedies, I spend an extra hour in the library because its what I love to do, not because its what I have to do.