Thanksgiving at College, 2010

I’ve been in academia for all of my adult life, first as a student, then as a professor.  I’ve experienced many, many Thanksgiving holidays.  Here are a few thoughts.

By Thanksgiving week (November in the USA), students and faculty are worn out.  Classes began in late August.  Students had orientation before that, faculty started preparation activities in anticipation.  Naps, once a luxury, have now become a necessity.

At my college, classes are in session on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.  Students are expected to be in class through Wednesday afternoon.  Hah!  Either my freshman students have a lot to learn, or they have uncommon wisdom.  Starting the week before, one after another informed me of approaching absence.   I’ve heard the tone before, “This is the way it is going to be.  Deal with it.”

In my opinion, they have it figured out.  At this time of the term, a four day holiday weekend isn’t enough.  Why?  There is a need to deal with sleep deprivation.  Then, there’s that professor dump thing going on.  Professor dump?  That’s when professors dump end of semester projects and papers on students, all at the last minute.  They have an inordinate impact on the course grade.  If students were to spend all of Thanksgiving break on their projects and papers, they simply would not have enough time to get everything done.  I am not the only person to be working on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day is a time for binge eating!  Meat eaters and vegetarians alike look forward to this day.  If a student doesn’t pick up five of the freshman fifteen here, then that student simply isn’t trying.  Tales of pigging out instantly become legend.

Thanksgiving is a day for reflecting on life’s blessings.  You know, a stop and smell the flowers type of thing.  At a time of collegiate upheaval, I am grateful to have a job in academia.  That my position is at a well regarded liberal arts college is a true blessing.  I’m grateful for my students.   They are smart, study a lot, and seem to care about the course they are taking from me.  Moreover, I like them as people.  I was never that cool as an undergrad, and I’ve not been that cool since.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse.  Throughout the day, I’ll be able to communicate my love and affection.  The curse is addictive behavior.  Why, on a day that I should be home with family, am I alone on my computer?  I’ll be Skyping back to Ohio where they’ve set a place for me.  1,000 miles away, it is pumpkin pie for one.

I’m grateful for being a professor.  It is the only way for me to live.

– – David Albrecht

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