On Wednesday afternoon we had a thunderstorm keep us company for a while. I watched the storm cell coming in from the west, its thunder the trumpet sporadically announcing its arrival. I had sat in the Grove watching the gray tapestry being drawn to either side of the Lyceum, the arguable hearth of our university. Once the rain came, I headed indoors and thought how sorry it was to be forced, by circumstance, from one place to another.
The nature of flux is such a force that we are never free from its grasp. For most of us, a bachelor’s degree defines the extent of our higher education, and for those master and doctoral students, you most likely did not receive your undergraduate degree here, as universities generally refrain from the practice of “inbreeding.” It’s safe to say that nearly all of us will be forced, by circumstance, from Ole Miss into other places.
Make no mistake about this transition period’s difficulties and uncertainties. But why worry? It’s not May, not even close to the December graduation date. The same compulsion that drives a person to watch the weather forecast in the morning is the same worry here — awareness. By and large, universities teach us the tools for success (and sometimes exactly how to use them), but a great part of using our tools deals with knowledge of what the big world is up to. That information comes as we engage in our discipline(s) outside of the classroom in either reading or watching relevant information.
Awareness — that nasty principle that made some people pack umbrellas or parkas for Wednesday afternoon. Unlike awareness of the day’s weather, in the big world (and in our respective disciplines), awareness requires significant time to accumulate enough information to make competent statements on contemporary issues, trends, directions or however you want to put that information to use. Unless it is politics or big business (as well as a few others), that information is not likely to be broadcast on all six cylinders, and even then, would you trust a 30-second summary of a person’s career decisions?
How exactly this big-world information is accumulated is not any harder than engaging in the big world or the sources from which this information comes — that is: magazines, forums, communities, articles, websites, even YouTube occasionally. The big jump here isn’t how to get information for awareness, but simply making the most of your time here at Ole Miss.
The classroom can only take you so far, professors have only so much time, your physical time here is limited and you’ve only so much freedom. I’m not emphasizing the dismissal of the college experience, but rather the enrichment of forward thinking. Our college years are meant to foster the transition from a budding, hormone-infused young adult into a productive, contributing member of society. Drastic, no?
Going back to why I chose to address this topic now. Hardly any of life can be planned or predicted, but gathering information for awareness will only take a bit of your time each day, and no one knows when those moments happen where that information will pay off. Worrying about what your discipline is doing and how to make the most of your knowledge in the big world is a little late in April. I’m asking you to start learning outside of the classroom as you go (if you’re not already) so that you can make most of the lessons learned, of the tools taught to you by the community, faculty and staff here at Ole Miss.
Daniel Purdy is an English senior from Oxford.
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