MCINTYRE: Apathetic students or academic shortcomings?

Liz McIntyre

One of the most perplexing phenomena I’ve found at Villanova is observing the typical college student actually in class. Most of the time, we’re abuzz with productivity and vivacity. We are simply the epitome of wholesome collegiate youths. However, class appears to have the power to seep out all of that hearty energy, even when we have most earnestly caffeinated ourselves. Class often seems to be a necessary evil that we just accept as a downside of college. Yet, the challenge that it poses is one that we signed up for when we decided to pursue a higher education. Class can be dull, but it isn’t the culprit; we are.

Some diehard “dean’s-listers” will condemn lack of participation and energy in the classroom as student indifference. But it can’t all be apathy. We speak of our $50,000 a year, top-of-the-line Villanova education with pride. We wear our ‘Nova Nation shirts to death. Hopefully, we all realized that, while college brings freedom and fun, a college education also means four more years of, well, education.

Rather, floating through class has become more of a habit that’s reminiscent of high school’s first period of the day, first period after lunch, last period of the day, game day, good weather day, whatever. Excuses abounded as we plodded through 12 grades of required education, yearning for college, the bright spot on the horizon, where we could read what we really wanted to read and drink what we really wanted to drink and have stimulating discussions about philosophy and life.

In the end, we’d have a degree and a sense of purpose.

Now we are in this educatory utopia. Rather than diminished, our fallback excuses have been replaced with impassioned attempts to seize the day, relish irresponsibility and figure out what really matters to us. I’m all for the pursuit of happiness, and I think that college is the opportune time to do so. But just as habitual in high school, we often look past class to our extracurriculars for personal fulfillment. The common mentality is to just get through school and get to the good stuff.

Our independence at Villanova is an opportunity that extends to the very environment in which we learn. Class creates a place of collaborative effort for students and professors alike, where multiple perspectives are expressed, processed and challenged. If we’re really trying to figure out what we care about, shouldn’t we do our best to liven up our own classroom experience, just as we do the rest of our lives? The most popular classes tend to be the vivacious ones, regardless of subject matter. Professors largely facilitate this environment by adding their unique senses of humor and soliciting our unguarded outlooks with a genuine interest, but the responsibility is a two-way street.

Now, I’m no eager beaver straining to remain seated while stretching my arm as high as I possibly can every time a slight inflection in a professor’s voice indicates a question. Nevertheless, this image reflects an enthusiasm that, to a reasonable extent, is a worthwhile goal relevant to me as well as any student.

So since my closet nerd status is pretty much outed by now, I want to extend my quest for “eager beaverness” to you. While not an epidemic, the phenomenon of a dead classroom is widespread on this campus.

Make class better. Next time, raise your hand.


Liz McIntyre is a junior psychology major from Chapel Hill, N.C.. She can be reached at [email protected].