Thought-provoking advice from professors

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Though weeks away, the beginning of the fall semester is in sight. Saying goodbye to the summer, along with its sunshine and festivities, can be bittersweet. But there’s a lot to be excited about in the coming semester. We will see Chancellor Dirks in action. We will hang out with more of our friends and make some new ones. We will be closer to graduating. Now that we have some free time to reflect about the challenges, mysteries and purpose of life, here are some quotes that professors have given students about being in college to ponder on:

1. “Grades matter — sort of, not really.”
Robert Hass, distinguished professor of poetry and poetics at UC Berkeley
He served as the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997. Some of his students love his courses so much they wish that he was their grandfather. Whether it is worth staying up all night, forgoing exercise and ditching plans for Friday night to earn the world’s first 4.3 GPA, the poet leaves it up to us to decide.
2. “You don’t need to be a genius to make a scientific discovery, but you need to be creative.”
Edward Keller, professor of environmental and engineering geology and geomorphology at UC Santa Barbara
In 2004, he received the Donald J. Easterbrook Distinguished Scientist Award from the Geological Society of America. Students describe him as a “boss” and someone who “keeps it real.” While being smart makes solving problems easier, it is problematic to think that only being smart is necessary to solve problems. Anybody can have a good idea that leads to success.
3. “You don’t become an adult until you follow your dreams.”
Junot Diaz, Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In 2008 he won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award for his novel “The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” Students across the board find his appearances, which are on YouTube, absolutely compelling. College is an opportunity for endeavors in whatever fields of knowledge we wish. Numerous successful people in the business world today can speak to their regret of not following their dreams at an earlier age.
4. “Don’t worry if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been a journalist for years, and I still don’t know what I’m doing.”
— Mark Danner, Chancellor’s Professor of English, Journalism and Politics at UC Berkeley and James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs, Politics and Humanities at Bard College
There is such a thing as too much contemplation. Take a risk. Follow your dreams. Mess up, then begin again. College is when you can be young, have fun, work hard and discover. What cherished advice have your professors given you? Share their morsels of wisdom in the comments below.
Image Source: takingshotsDC under Creative Commons

Contact Josh Escobar at [email protected]

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