What I've Learned in Higher Education

Warning:  This is lengthy.

Well, this is it.  On Saturday, the past five years of my life will come to an end as I walk across the stage at Bud Walton arena to be 'hooded' with my Masters of Arts in Teaching degree.  It's a bittersweet, yet exciting time as I transition into the time from being a "student" to pursuing my professional career, and lifetime goals.

So, while I take a break from pursuing further studies (until I enter the Ph.d program, that is) I can't help but reminisce on all college has taught me.

Higher education taught me more than the value of carbon compounds, the formula for instantaneous velocity, or how to differentiate an ANOVA analysis.  And although the process of completing and defending my dissertation was painstakingly necessary, it wasn't through this experience that grew me into an adult.

I learned the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (in other words, how to get from Reid to Humphreys the quickest, back in the days when Maple Hill was merely a construction site, and Walmart on Campus was an unknown concept).  I learned which restaurants would deliver to Club Mullins (hello Loafin' Joes and Jimmy Johns), and the best place to 'study' in the library.

I've built relationships with my professors, met their families, and had dinner at their homes.  Things I would have never deemed possible arriving on campus as one of 20,000 students.

I've learned to be a team player rooting for a common cause, be it with 50,000 Razorback fans for a Sugar Bowl Victory (Dang you, OSU) or a class full of students convincing Wavering to let us have class at Orange Mango for the day (Ice Cream always trumps Methods)

I learned the art of democracy as I pleaded my case against my 100th parking ticket, and the structure of our judicial system as I discovered online which of my friends were arrested due to last night's festivities (Note to Self:  Jail Pictures are NEVER flattering).

I've learned about the state of our economy as I paid $60 for a tank of gas, lost my debit card, and pleaded with my Mom to refurbish my depleting bank account.   I've paid way too much for dresses I've worn once, and fully taken pride in the motto 'Keep Fayetteville Funky' as all these local vendors provide student discounts.

I've learned the fire department schedules the most inopportune fire drills (hello shower time), yet never shows up when I set my own fire alarm off in my apartment, but alerts the entire campus when a hazardous chemical goes missing.

I have now become ever the more alert about the weather and even the threat of rain can shut down the entire campus.  However, it's no longer necessary to watch the weather channel seeing as how RazAlert will alert you via Text, Voicemail, and Email any time the meteorologist changes his plans.  Never fear, fellow Razorbacks, Razalert has our backs!

My driving skills have improved (or digressed) as I've now driven in snow, sleet, ice, and flash floods!  I've learned the most efficient way to avoid Fayetteville traffic any time there is an athletic event, concert, marathon, race, or... the Walmart Stockholders decide to visit.  I've set in traffic way too long on Wedington Drive, and celebrated with everyone when they expanded the exit ramp (Thank you, City of Fayetteville, thank you).

I now consider myself a person of Multi cultures, and thoroughly enjoy every holiday.  Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick's Day, Dead Day's Eve.... any reason is a cause for celebration!  My Spanish has improved greatly from eating at Viejo weekly for the past 5 years,  Hunan Manor will always have the best lunch specials, and I now know that being 'Politically Correct' has nothing to do with appeasing people.

I understand the frailty of the human heart, the strength of a woman, and the simplicity of a man's mind.

I've learned how to keep my opinion to myself, how to speak my mind, and to never say 'I told you so'.

I now know how to sneak onto the football field in the wee hours of the morning, sneak boys into Reid past curfew, and steal cookies from the Quads.

I've learned how to conserve resources: stockpiling coupons, waiting until the last possible minute to do laundry, creating fabulous meals out of 5 ingredients, using the oven as a heat source.

I learned exactly how many miles I must run, crunches I must do, and Subway sandwiches I must consume in order to prevent that Freshman 15 from creeping back up.  Along with which trades are totally worth the extra pound (Rick's Cookies, need I say more).

I've embraced my artistic side whether it be decorating ice chests for functions, creating costumes, blogging, or creatively coming up with an excuse for why I missed our last lab of the semester.  I've been the director of some of life's greatest moments, the editor of information need not be leaked to outside public, and the greatest PR rep for my best friends (Yes, she is the best thing you will ever have, and yes you would be stupid to lose her)

I've learned how to walk in 5 in. heels, rain boots, Uggs, and crutches.  I've walked in someone else's shoes, given shoes (Toms, I love you), and worn no shoes.

I've worn bridesmaid dresses, initiation dresses, formal dresses, and dresses to funerals.  I've worn way too skimpy swimsuits for days on the lake, bundled up for the blizzard of the century, worn a cap and gown twice, and worn the weight of my stress on my shoulders too many times to count.

I understand the importance of a great cup of coffee, a strong margarita, and sonic happy hours.  I value the healing powers of a tub of cookie dough, a Cosmo magazine, and a midnight drive to escape the city lights.

I know the value of a great cell phone plan (200,000 text messages a month??), health insurance, and having parents who are never more than a day's drive away.

So thank you University of Arkansas.  Although at times I complained because of your outrageous tuition rates, the hassle of parking on campus, and stupid classes I was forced to take in order to complete my degree, I realize the value of my education isn't found in my degrees, but rather what those degrees stand for.  It these degrees (No matter what concentration they represent)) that symbolize the transition from a teenager to an adult, an dependent to an independent, and selfish to the selfless (Ok, maybe we're still working on that one...).

It's because of this, that everyone says....  College is the best time of your life.

While I like to think it can only get better from here, I do agree that I've had one heck of a college experience.

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