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The Conversation: Back To School


The flipping of the calendar to September means many things, but to parents and children, it is significant for one reason: school. Parents, after an entire summer with their little ones, couldn’t be happier. Kids, coming off a season-long stretch of staying out late and sleeping in, couldn’t be less excited. Neither of these facts is surprising. Here to discuss the flocking back to classrooms are former Press Editorial Intern Amanda Marzullo—a senior at Stonybrook University, Staff Writer Jaclyn Gallucci—sister to a returning college student, Editor Brad Pareso—recent college graduate, and Editor-in-Chief Michael Patrick Nelson—adjunct professor at NYU.

Brad

Cue Billy Madison: “Back to school / back to school / to prove to dad that I’m not a fool.”


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Michael

You know, when I was a kid, I never really liked going to school—and even as an instructor, I find it stressful and overwhelming—but this time of year, right now, has always been filled with excitement and promise, in my mind. It’s that curiosity about what the new semester will bring. As a student, you wonder what your teacher will be like; as a teacher, you wonder what your students will be like. But from both perspectives, there is a feeling of curiosity and newness you don’t encounter much in the “adult” world.

Amanda

As a senior in college, who is expected to graduate in May, those thoughts and realizations of adulthood frighten me.

Jaclyn

I love school. I love books. I love notebooks. College-ruled notebooks. With dark college-ruled lines. I’ll probably end up getting a PhD some day in something ridiculous like “chocolate and sexuality in Victorian literature.” Sigh. One day…

Brad

Why wait? I’m sure University of Phoenix has some eight-week fast-track course to get your PhD in that. I remember vividly what going back to school was like, but I think everyone does. Saying goodbye to our editorial interns over the past two weeks—as they went back to college and I have to once again do the work I pawned off on them—was interesting. Part boss losing his best workers, part mama bird letting her fleet take flight.

Jaclyn

No thanks. That “college in PJs” commercial and that white girl rapping about “ed-ja-cay-tion con-nec-tion” is enough right there to make me boycott online school for all of eternity.

Michael

I’ve always thought that one of the great harsh truths of adulthood was the ultimate realization that summer was no longer a vacation, no longer a break from the real world, no longer a pupal stage from which one might emerge as a butterfly…or something. I think, too, that diminishes some of the appeal of summer for adults. However, for me, even when I’m not teaching, the onset of autumn brings back that atavistic rush. Of course, when I was a student, that rush was tempered by the fact that I was also losing my freedom; as an adult, I can just enjoy it, nebulous though it may be. We make New Year’s Resolutions at New Year’s, on Jan. 1, but really, we should make them now, because now is the time of year when we are most accustomed to substantial, momentum-altering change.

Jaclyn

I remember when summer vacation wasn’t three months. In elementary school you couldn’t put a number on it. It wasn’t until the back-to-school commercials started popping up when I’d even consider that summer had an end. I’d give anything to get that feeling back, but I’d settle for a regular ol’ summer vacation any day. When I dropped my brother off at UAlbany last week, I got welcomed as a freshman five times. I briefly considered tying him up and taking his place until I realized to pull that off I’d have to cut my hair off and live as a man. Tempting, but no.

Brad

I think you guys are getting a little over-nostalgic here; you’re remembering how fun college was and forgetting that grade school sucked. Puberty, classwork that was borderline a waste of taxpayer money, the birds and the bees talk—nobody misses seventh grade. Two months of summer did not make up for 10 months of school. I’d take the year-round freedom of the “real world” over two uninhibited months sandwiched between 10 months of schooling any day.

Amanda

The words “real world” echo in mind all the time. I always wonder if I am ready to take on the world that is beyond teachers, homework and textbooks. I feel as if when my days of school are over—which will be shortly—I’m going to be thrown to the wolves and be expected to survive. Can’t I just go to school forever and have endless summer vacations?

Jaclyn

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If we could just merge “the year-round freedom of the real world” with afternoon nap time…

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Brad

…we’d live in Spain and take siesta everyday at 1 p.m. ¡Si, por favor!

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