OPINION: Reflecting on Fall Quarter
This is it; we’ve reached the final days of fall 2015, and the final issue of The Western Front for this quarter.
It’s always a bit astounding just how much we can learn during the course of three short months, and not just what we learn in the classroom. College is a time of exponential growth in many areas: relationships, identity, academics and more.
There’s always something going on in our lives that’s teaching us new lessons and influencing us. But because of that large amount of activity, sometimes we miss out on learning all we can from these instances.
Perhaps you have a particularly impactful conversation with somebody, but then must immediately rush to take a big exam in your most difficult class. That conversation might lose some of its luster in the process.
That’s where self-reflection comes in.
At this point, we all have several weeks of experiences to look back on, some of which may have been obscured by others. So what better way to ensure we end this quarter happy and fulfilled then by going back and analyzing what exactly we learned?
In a 2014 Forbes article, authors Thomas Ehrlich and Ernestine Fu say that, unfortunately, reflection is a practice that often gets pushed to the wayside when students are in college.
“All too often, undergraduates have an instrumentalist view of college, viewing it solely as a way to prepare for a career, and perhaps have some fun along the way. They wear their academic honors and achievements like a soldier’s decorations, rarely looking deeply at their inner selves. Self-reflection is not on their radar screens,” Ehrlich and Fu said.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t view college as a time to enjoy ourselves and prepare for our careers. Rather, we should enhance those experiences by looking back on them and savoring the lessons they taught us.
After a particularly long lecture, take a moment after class to think to yourself, “What am I feeling?” and “Why do I feel this way?”
If you feel confused and frustrated because you don’t understand everything, visit your professor’s office hours and ask for a little extra help. if you feel confident because you feel you know the subject matter well, then you can recognize it as a lesson well-learned.
After a night out with friends, ask yourself the same questions. Feeling relaxed and happy can help you see that it’s important to spend time with people you like and doing things you enjoy.
Programs at Harvard, Stanford and other universities teach students how self-reflection can benefit their academic careers as well as their personal lives.
It doesn’t take long to look back and think about some of the things that have been accomplished over the last few months, and doing so can help us make new goals for the future.
So now, at the end of another quarter, take a few moments to look back on what you’ve accomplished, what you could have done better and where you want to go from here.
Keep moving forward, Western.