My schedule over the next two weeks is full. I’m bouncing back and forth between campuses. I’ve given up on the blissful, even if pointless, pleasure of having zero emails in my inbox. My throat feels especially raw, and my voice has that soft sort of gratey-ness that only comes from talking too loud and too often. By the end of my work day, I will have consumed at least four cups of coffee. This can only mean one thing: it’s September.
Of course, September is a special month in the world of post-secondary education, and the first week therein occupies a particular seat of honour. The tidal wave of brand new, not-yet-disillusioned students is like a mainline adrenaline shot to the heart of campus life – the effects of which persist for most of the month. Even the grumpiest and most exhausted of those “marathon runner” fourth years can be seen lurching around campus with a bit more spring in their step – they’ve finally spotted the finish line in the distance, and the crowd of cheering supporters surrounding it.
The orientations, fairs, speeches, swag, talent shows, concerts, and even the occasional “beverage garden” all serve to remind those of us who ply our trade at universities that our workplaces are vibrant, diverse, energetic, fun, and enriching on cultural, intellectual, and so many other levels.
As I alluded to at the start of this post, all of that excitement and energy happens to come paired with an exponential increase in my and my colleagues’ workloads. It’s not just the rush of students coming in for help, either. All of the projects that were being worked on over the summer are suddenly being put to action. Fairs and other large scale events are being organized. Workshops are being facilitated. Speeches are being given. Volunteers are being trained. And yes, blogs are being written (though perhaps not as regularly as I would like).
It reminds me an awful lot of being a full-time student, actually. Feeling guilty about spending free time on things other than school was never a pleasant experience, and it’s one of the biggest reasons I won’t be looking to add any more letters to the end of my name anytime soon. Most of the time, I’m able to leave work things at work, but at this time of year there seems to be a small area of my brain, always in the background, strictly reserved for work stuff. Questions and doubts that wouldn’t normally exist after 4:30 are suddenly following me home and in some cases keeping me up at night. Did I send all the emails I needed to send to students today? Did I forget to enter my appointments into our stats tracking system? Is there something I need to bring to work tomorrow? How is this appointment/presentation/workshop/speech/training/etc. going to go?
There is a cost to all the excitement and vivacity of the new school year.
When October eventually does come around, it will be on to the next thing, just like every other year. Students will be getting ready for midterms and writing papers, and I’ll be facilitating this or that workshop, my schedule still busy, though more comfortably so.
And as winter creeps into the picture and us on the west coast endure months of rain and gray skies, the pace will slow. Holidays will come and go. A new semester, this one noticeably more subdued than the last, will emerge. New excitements and challenges will be experienced, and we’ll all come out the better for it on the other side.
In the end, everything is okay. It always is.
A simple truth worth reflection from time to time.
*Cross-posted in Dave’s Diary at the Career Services Informer.
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