It’s a new semester, my fourth, and I am once again feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and excited. The start of every semester brings the same thoughts to my mind: Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Is there a right amount of things to do? Who decides that? Will I be able to stomach Sherman for another semester? (No, I won’t.)
These questions, and more, have habitually plagued me with each new semester. I think that, although these questions are entertaining, taking a step back and looking at college as a whole provides a beneficial perspective for me.
This semester, for the first time, I’m taking five classes. To everyone who habitually does that, buzz off, this is hard for me. Over just the first two weeks of classes, I can tell that this will be a significant challenge. Juggling readings, due dates and exam schedules for four classes was hard enough, but now I’m adding another? But, I took on this course load because I wanted to be in all of these classes. I want to learn a new programming language while also learning a map-making program and learning Git and learning about the commons and learning about environmental conservation. It’s my right as a Brandeis student.
But the start of a new semester means so much more than just new classes, it also means grander life changes because the passage of time is linear and terrifying. I now have to start looking for summer jobs! As a college student looking to stay at home and make money during the summer, it’s really hard to find positions. Most jobs ask that I either A) relocate to Minnesota or B) have a graduate degree in computer science with 10 years of experience. As I am not willing to relocate to Minnesota and, to my knowledge, do not have an advanced degree in anything, many of the applications I send out are fruitless. The reality is that not a lot of employers are willing to hire college students for a summer job, which is unfortunate for anyone trying to build their resume like me. It’s frustrating to see so many cool employment opportunities but know that the majority of them aren’t accessible with my current experience.
That’s enough whining about the job market, though. The start of this semester is significant for another reason: Brandeis students must declare their major by the end of their fourth semester. As a second semester sophomore, that means that all of my friends and I must connect ourselves to a path for the rest of our time at Brandeis. Of course there’s wiggle room and your college major doesn’t necessarily determine what you’ll do with your life, but the idea of committing yourself to a particular path is scary. I shouldn’t have to choose between being a doctor or a teacher or a personal trainer now; I’m not even old enough to rent a car!
Although the slow march of time is scary, I’m not on the warpath against it. It’s fun to take on new commitments in fields I enjoy, it’s fun to look at all of the summer jobs that are relevant to my studies (yes, including the ones in Minnesota) and it’s fun to fill out official declarations that I’ll be studying my passions for the next two years.
The passage of time makes itself more apparent to me at transitional moments like this: the beginning of a semester. The changes that time brings are intimidating yet enjoyable. I like the way that college forces me to progress as a person, I like the things it encourages me to do and I even like the hours I spend in the library completing five classes worth of reading. The new semester allows me to reflect on the changes that college has brought to my life, and I’ve come to the conclusion that they make me happy.