Thursday, June 30, 2011

Deadlines and Dead-drops

In the case that "first" rhymes with "worst," I take it that they are synonymous in their right. As in, my first draft, which is an extended outline at that, of the research paper I am putting together for my Presidential Powers course is my worst. It is scarce. It is unkempt. It is disorganized. It is rushed. It is incomplete. It is not entirely accurate. It is not scholarly material. And, the deadline is tomorrow afternoon.

But, it will get better. Because, it is a testament to the best of my ability to produce quality work within the given time frame. And, by no means is any other students' paper superior to mine to a large extent, if at all. Everyone struggled through this. But, it is, and was, a good struggle. I can admit that. As more time is allotted, more work will be accomplished, and more smiles will be smeared upon the face of an exhausted, yet proud student.

I don't smile too frequently, by the way.

After hours, and hours, and hours, and hours in the library, outside of the classroom mind you, I have begun to grow a lot more comfortable in and within the setting. I do not feel a perpetual need to check the clock. I do not rush out of the reference room as soon as the clock strikes 4:00 P.M. On the contrary, I feel as though I can do without a time measurement. I do not feel the stereotypical, high school student-associated library hatred that I have felt in the past. It's the university's magic at work, I tell you.

There's something academically encouraging about a large room, filled with various students, quiet, steady, resourceful, and timeless. It doesn't necessarily conform studying into some sort-of past-time activity for leisurely hours. It does, however, allow me think of study time not as a necessary evil, but as a necessary occurrence. I even find myself more willing to use novels, biographies, and other literary pieces in my research. Rather than searching Google with three to four relevant keywords related to the topic and clicking on the top five links, I hesitate to aboard the Internet's super-highway of information. Nay, I think I'll check out the Butler book-stacks instead.

The rigor is unpleasant, sure, but the values it is reinvigorating within me are essential. Four days in, and I already feel as though I'm two steps above the competition when I enter senior year. I feel like, in addition to my A.P. assignments, this summer will have provided me with a necessary academic continuation from my usual school year, so that there is no habit to re-develop when I enter Richmond High School in late August. I won't need to brush up on my material, or gradually come into my study habit and work ethic within the first few weeks. I will not have to do any of that nonsense, because I will already be in possession of such.

And, that's extremely valuable. Of other particular reward, I'm really getting a sense of life on campus, academics aside. I'm figuring out the day-to-day routines of college kids: the risks they take, the risks they don't take, the work they do or don't do, the places they go, the people they see. I'm getting an idea of time management, both from an academic and social perspective, and I feel as though when I attend college, wherever I may attend, I will be one step ahead of my new freshman class, just as I see myself with the advantage in comparison to other rising seniors.

Though my time at Columbia University be scarce, I have learned so much. I've learned things I thought I already knew, and things that I knew nothing about. I've learned what is real, and what is fake. To an extent, I've learned about myself as an individual. And, such knowledge has surely not climaxed. I'll be learning for a while--inside and outside of the classroom.

I suppose that's what this is all about.

I am relieved to be finished with my paper in the sense of Dr. Z's instructional guidelines for the extended outline, and I am ready to drop dead onto the bed.

As the end to the first week approaches, I'm excited to see just how far my first week progressed me, and what is to come in the following weeks.

Until tomorrow-

1 comment:

  1. Will,

    Maybe the most important lesson to be learned form this is when you put out an inferior product you need to destroy all copies. When Senator Blowhard is grilling you as you’re seeking confirmation to the Supreme Court, you don’t want some pimply faced staffer handing his a copy of this first draft giving him the ammunition to ask: “Could you possibly have been this stupid?”

    Burn it, shred it, wipe it from the memories of every hard drive and flash drive.

    And just because everyone else’s outline sucked it’s not a reason for you to feel proud. Rather than telling yourself that yours is the best bad outline, you want to ask yourself how you can get your draft to the Nobel people in Sweden for consideration for their prize in literature.

    I like the tone of this blog, Will. I like seeing the growth and the confidence in yourself that you’re developing that can be backed up with examples of why you’re in charge of your destiny.