I have always felt conflicted in regards to academics. I am passionate about learning but not about studying for a test. I am passionate about discussion but not about the multiple choice busy work homework assignments and rubric based short answer questions that follow. I love to talk endlessly about life’s bigger questions, but putting them into seamlessly organized, coherent paragraphs and crossing off every requirement of the assignment in order to secure a grade seems like a daunting task.
In class today, September 5th, we discussed how there is pressure to fully understand the material we are working with, and how it is easy to doubt yourself and your interpretation when others come forward with their differing understandings. It has become routine to fall into the trap of believing that your opinion is inferior, rather than understanding that multiple perspectives can simultaneously exist and not pose a threat to one another, rather, they can all be pieces of the same puzzle. I have done some Interfaith work through Nazareth College in my high school years, and something that community often says is “I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right.”
It is also easy to fall into the trap of dissecting the pieces we are handed objectively and making sure to “check all of the boxes” in order to successfully understand a piece. I have come to understand that this is not how to gain a new perspective and grow, not only as a reader and a writer but as a human being. It may have gotten me through high school, but it won’t get me through life.
I have never cared about having the best grade in class – numbers never motivated me as much as relationships with peers, understanding new ideas, and forming bonds with teachers did. However, as a student who pushed myself to take many AP courses and interact with challenging material, I was in an environment where grades tended to be the priority of my peers. Senior year, I felt lost. I was applying to schools where I felt I would fit in, but not necessarily schools that were academically competitive or prestigious. For me, my first priority was finding something that I could afford. I felt like the only one in that position.
Geneseo was always my dream school, but I never believed I would really end up here. I was waitlisted, which felt like a slap in the face, if an expected one. I took that decision as a rejection, and settled for another school that I had convinced myself was right for me. Days before I was planning to deposit, I received an email from Geneseo with the subject line “Welcome to the Class of 2022!” It was a whirlwind of a few days in which I changed my mind faster than even I expected, but as soon as I set foot on this campus I knew this was my new home.
From my first day of classes here, I knew I had absolutely made the right choice. There is a vibe of ambition here, but not in the wrong ways. Everyone here is figuring this whole thing out together, and finally heading tangibly in the direction of their dreams and their life’s work. I am ready to put all I have into my work here. I have waited for this moment, where my academics and passions are not separate entities. I am ready to write for myself again, rather than for the rubric.