Seeking fulfillment beyond academic life

And just like that, five weeks of the school year have gone by. If you’re anything like me, you have no idea how the fuck that happened. I think we have a tendency to forget just how quickly our time gets swallowed while we’re at school. And I don’t mean that just in a “I have three papers due on Friday and somehow it’s Thursday afternoon and I haven’t started any of them” kind of way. I mean that in a literal “we’re kind of being eaten alive” kind of way.

Your time and what you do with it are a direct extension of yourself. The waking-working-sleeping cycle of school is an external schedule that we abide by while we’re students. We impose this structure on our time, and thus ourselves, because it’s what is expected of us, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But far too often, I think we forget that the end product of higher education is to be a wiser, more learned human being and not a cog in the machinery of the nine-to-five.

Somewhere along the way, the pursuit of knowledge has been turned into a machine that, if you’re still following my metaphor, eats up students and spits out workers. Why? Merriam-Webster defines “student” as “1. Scholar, learner,” and “2. One who studies: an attentive and systematic observer.” Frequently in this unbelievably competitive, high-intensity academic environment, we are placed in front of so much work that we can’t see behind it. If all of your time, then, is being consumed by looking at this work in front of you, or thinking about the prospect of work that will come, or trying to catch up on work you’ve already let pass you by, do you really have time for anything else? What are you actually learning when all you’re ever thinking about is work?

This isn’t all to say that you should just not do schoolwork. Part of that structure we assume has a built in “yeah, dude, you have to actually, like, do shit” clause. There is a balance to be found here. You are a student, but you are only a student for now. Yes, that means you have a world of information to learn and eventually know, and a massive amount of work ahead of you to get there, but when all that work is gone, what are you going to be left looking at?

The rigor of academic life can be all-encompassing, but I really encourage everyone this week to set aside some real quality time for the you behind the student. Find something that you’re so passionate about that it makes you forget school entirely for a while, and let yourself find you in that. Obviously be safe! This whole exercise is about healing and helping yourself grow — you can’t really do that by engaging in unhealthy activities that will inevitably stunt that growth.

For me, this has been skateboarding. It’s something I can do every day, see visible improvement in and is a skillset I hope to not only take with me, but build onto after I graduate in May, gravity willing. Whether it’s writing, or painting, or playing the guitar, or listening to podcasts, or reading books outside of your syllabus or even being really, really good at MOBAs, find something you really want to be a scholar in. Because when you’re no longer a student at The College of Wooster, the learning shouldn’t stop. It’s just up to you to determine the kind of student you will be. Might as well start now.

Emily Anderson, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at