II'm registered for five classes again next quarter. Well, effectively. I've registered for four on CAESAR, and I have the permission number for the fifth.
Last year, when the concept of taking five classes was first introduced to me, I thought it was a wild suggestion for academically-minded over-achievers. I was somewhat in awe of anyone who did it. Then, when this fall proved to be my second straight quarter in which I felt like my workload was much lighter than everyone around me, I started thinking. It made me feel like I was slacking off, that maybe I wasn't getting everything I could out of my education here. So I figured, what the hell?
But seeing every day the effects of Alex's workload this quarter, my five classes feel like nothing. I don't have the extra free time that made me wonder what was wrong with me in the past, but I certainly don't feel terribly burdened. So as I registered for spring quarter, I had to find some way to justify taking less than five classes. And since no good reason presented itself, I'm going for five. Why not take as many as the school will let me for the tremendous amount of money my family puts in? They won't charge me extra; I'm graduating only one quarter early, as my AP credits allow me, and no more.
Of course, there's a part of me that asks, "What are you doing taking five classes when your grades while taking just four aren't as good as they should be?" It's true. The free time I find myself with largely stems from the fact that I can't train myself to take notes, highlight, or really process what I'm reading on a more than superficial level until I come back to it for a paper or exam; that I procrastinate on my papers and cram the writing of them into the shortest time possible; that it's hard to make myself sit still for long enough to do the exhaustive studying necessary for exams, and too often I'll read through my notes a few times and then run off to play euchre.
And my grades show it. I'm not whining about grades, and mine certainly aren't awful, but especially of late, I've become something of a B+ student. And at a school where the average GPA is 3.32, that makes me somewhere around average. Is that okay? I haven't quite answered that question for myself yet. I know I could get better grades if I really forced myself. But is it worth it? I like my life here at college. I like the balance between schoolwork and spending time with my friends. I like not having to stress out about classes very often. I like taking five classes and being able to learn about as many things as I can manage.
I will never be a 3.8 kind of student, and at the same time I can't see myself, bad habits and all, falling below 3.3 or so. What tradeoffs am I willing to make to figure out where I will end up inbetween those numbers? I don't think I want to sacrifice the chance to take more classes in order to keep up my grades. And, honestly, while I do give up a certain degree of socializing because of schoolwork, I don't think I want to spend much less time with my friends or be more stressed out in exchange for a couple of grade points. Perhaps someday I'll get kicked in the face for neglecting my GPA. Maybe I'll shock myself and decide I want to go to grad school. Perhaps I'll apply for some sort of scholarship or fellowship and it'll hurt me. But that's a risk I think I'm willing to take.
Of course, it's all nice and easy to lash out at grades and GPA as unimportant. The rub comes if my not-so-sparkling grades are a symptom of me not getting the most out of my education, and if I'm making excuses for myself for not trying my hardest and developing work habits which I'm surely going to need at some point in my life...
27 December, 2002
Intellectual Property Rights denounced by Britt Gordon-McKeon, 2002