Recently, a word has been spiraling around my mind like a samara on a brisk autumn day. That word is “arbitrary.” Now, this is not a new word to me, nor to most people. It’s a fairly common adjective. It came to me, unsurprisingly, while I was staying up late to write an essay I had procrastinated until the night it was due.
Merriam-Webster defines the term “arbitrary” as “existing or coming about seemingly at random or by chance or as a capricious and unreasonable act of will.” The reason this particular essay brought on my thoughts of this word was because I could not find the meaning in it; the assignment just seemed unnecessary to my education.
This dilemma hasbecome an increasingly frequent one as I maneuver through my fleeting college years. It is reminiscent of the question many high schoolers ask: “When am I going to use this in life?” I find myself completing assignments that I will not remember in a semester, and it will not matter. This is not meant to be the case in college.
University is for pursuing your interests, and learning to balance your work and social life. Pursuing our interests should imply that we find some enjoyment in our studies instead of dreading every exam or assignment.
This breakdown in meaning and joy is partly coming from stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that 85 percent of college students feel overwhelmed by their workload at some point. A little stress is beneficial, but the problem is that the work causing this stress is largely unnecessary. This is not to bash professors who put significant thought into their syllabi, but to provoke thoughts about the actual purpose of college versus what it has actually become.
The college norm has become students trudging through their weeks only to party for two days then stress all over again on Sundays. This harsh reality is not true of all students, but you catch my drift. College kids, and we are kids, are already wishing for Friday before Monday has even started, and these are supposed to be the “best days of our lives.” I guess two out of seven isn’t bad.
I have always considered myself to be a good egg, but I struggle to do work that does not impassion me, and to drag myself out of bed for the classes that just reiterate information I have already learned.
College is great, schoolwork is great, and professors are great, but those arbitrary assignments are not so great.