Rush Through College

David Clemens

In Community Collegeland, it's transfer time as students nervously polish their apps and recs, teetering on the brink of the future.  My student, Youjin, was shocked at this line from her University of California Transfer Admission Guarantee, “As a transfer student, your goal should be to complete your degree and graduate within two years” [my emphasis].  Of all the goals a college student might have (structured study of important texts, discussions of different philosophies about what makes a good life, an enhanced sensitivity to music, art, and literature), U.C. thinks what she should feel is desperate to be done with it.  Yet Youjin demurs:

It is strange to find myself wanting to take just one class for a year ('taking a year off'), considering how acceleration in education always has been the trend in my (not yet long) life . . . .  It seems only natural for a real student to desire the luxury of time to really think about a topic . . . .  If even educational institutions . . . follow the suit of acceleration as if students were online articles to skim through, and decide to take time away from students by rushing them, even fewer people will take time to do outside reading, spend hours creating a perception of one's [own] painting, and will cease to ponder."

Ponder?  No time!  No metric!  No chance with today’s accelerating, hyperlinked, clickerfied, competency-shortened, pragmatic, outcomes-obsessed academic urgency.However, students whose entire lives have been on track for academic success can yearn to get off the train.  The anime classic Ghost in the Shell includes a curious wordless sequence during which an unidentified pov just wanders slowly through the streets of a futuristic Hong Kong, exploring a previously un-comprehended, unnoticed world.  Students rarely enjoy seeing with such eyes of discovery rather than with the “weary eyes” of Conrad’s Marlow,

looking still, looking always, looking anxiously for something out of life, that while it is expected is already gone . . . .”

What is college (or life) without time to see, time to feel, time to “really think?”


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