Love it or hate it: First day of class

by David Holub

Love itAs a student, there was always the hope that the enticing elective – something like Sociology of Seinfeld – would be as delicious as touted in the course directory.

There was the hope that your comp instructor was a grad student a handful of years older whose dreaminess made up for it being an 8 a.m. course. Or that you’d wind up next to the hot, nerdy girl.

I loved stumbling upon a dynamic professor who could make insurance documents captivating, who was full of a semester’s worth of colorful examples and salacious anecdotes.

As a professor, I loved rolling the dice on which classrooms I’d have for the semester, whether it was the oversized broom closet with the random piano or the well-lit, bio-thermally-cooled tech room with the 20-foot windows.

I loved gauging my classes and students and walking out of the first day confident that I’d have a fun group, diverse personalities and enough “talkers” to keep discussions afloat without pulling teeth (“talkers” as opposed to “chit-chatters,” which are basically the worst).

I loved first-day activities, breezing through the syllabus highlights, then playing some kind of irreverent game, all designed for me to raise eyebrows and push boundaries within legal limits, hoping to impart on them that the semester might get a bit whimsical at times.

Ultimately, the first day of classes is all about hope, promise and that anxious feeling of what’s-in-store.

— David HolubHate it I love school, but I do not like the first day of classes. The first day of anything is stressful, rife with uncertainty and novelty and the potential for things to go horribly wrong.

You probably don’t know exactly where your classrooms are yet. You have to find them. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be running late and head into the wrong building at first. Making you even later.

You can’t be sure of who’ll be in your class. A friend, with whom you can pair for the dreaded partner assignments? A foe, who you’re now forced to face twice a week? An ex? The uncomfortable possibilities are endless.

Maybe you’ve done your research ahead of time and know exactly what kind of professor you’re getting. Or maybe they’re new to you, and seem hearteningly cool (even if that coolness is deceptive and doesn’t last past the first week of classes). But they might also stride in and hand out a syllabus that Stephen Hawking would struggle to manage, or start to call upon random, unsuspecting people to answer difficult questions (even if they aren’t raising their hand).

Endings are sad. Middles are good. Beginnings are scary. Or “exciting,” if you’re that type of unburdened, unanxious person. I am not.

— Anya Jaremko-Greenwold


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