Posted by Stephanie Mooshegian
The 2010- 2011 school year is here! August is one of my favorite times of the year. A new school year, list of classes, and a fresh start…what more could an academic and life-long learner love?! Students have returned to campus – either filling seats in our classrooms or actively participating in online discussion boards. Summer routines are fading, and for the Nontraditional Billiken, fall schedules are evolving into weeks packed with work, class, and personal activities, such as children’s soccer games and scout meetings – and for those students in the sandwich generation, parents’ appointments and doctors’ visits. The weather is starting to cool, which is a much needed relief in the St. Louis area, and as the seasons shift, undoubtedly, change is everywhere.
For the most part, I see students (and faculty and staff) catch the wave of excitement for the new school year and quickly adjust to the fast-paced schedule. Students become accustomed to life on the go and tend to manage their responsibilities remarkably well. During the hustle and bustle of daily routine, students are challenged not only to meet their work, life, and school demands, but are also challenged to expand their worldview by learning about new ideas and thinking critically about familiar concepts. In being part of SPS’s learning community, students are continuously growing and developing, even though students may not make the time to fully recognize these changes as they occur. Being immersed in the daily grind, students may be prevented from seeing the big picture – why they chose to be part of SPS’s learning community in the first place.
In this first week of school, I know that students are inundated with course syllabi outlining eight weeks of course requirements and the daily hassles of preparing for a new term. I notice how quickly students tend to adjust to overdrive! Instead of becoming absorbed in the details, I encourage students to stop and take a few moments to pause and reflect. Think about why they choose their major or program of study…how they contribute to SPS’s learning community…what they will do after graduation…what they are called to do in life. Reflection is an integral component of learning and development. In taking the time, even just a few minutes a day, to pause and think about the big picture, students gain perspective about those exciting changes that are happening each day.
Not only does reflection enhance personal and professional development, reflection is at the heart of the Jesuit mission in which Saint Louis University was founded. There are a number of resources available to students who would like to learn more about reflection and spiritual development. SLU’s campus ministry offers a number of programs, and some are even customized for a busy lifestyle. Our distance learners who cannot access SPS’s campus might check out a comprehensive mission website, organized by campus ministry at one of our fellow Jesuit institutions, Creighton University. Whether or not students decide to participate in formal methods of reflection this week, I encourage all of them to take a deep breath, pause, and remember why they are doing what they are doing now and who they are called to be. It’s one way to acknowledge not only the moment but also the possibilities that await.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ekkaia/126094248/