Meditations of a departing senior on higher education
Joanna Diane Caytas, Columbia ‘12
It has just been too crazy since fall
four long years ago when we started to crawl.
But one fact, it seems, was by far
what appeared to me truly bizarre:
We don’t feel too much wiser at all!
As a freshman, I came sans Plan B,
with quaint notions about a degree.
First, when told about classes
for us ignorant lasses,
they all sounded quite worthwhile to me.
Before long it seemed clear that “the core”
was but synonym for a jungle of lore
that will take half your time
– and it surely took mine –
yet will leave you as smart as before.
In some classes with sharp minds at play
you can find, to your frothing dismay,
that pretenders got in
and are making a din
even though they have nothing to say.
Declaring a major is easy,
but following through keeps one busy.
I chose to read math.
Never regretted that path,
even though giving birth to a proof can make dizzy.
So I went to the help room one day
where the wisest of mutants hold sway.
There, Pythia answers if you
run into a problem or two,
leading you further astray.
My own instinct with numbers untried,
flying straight by the seat of my pants, I confide
in propitiously fond afterglow:
Not such a very long time ago
I still thought that my prospects were fried.
When proving hypotheses pointless and vacuous
intersperse them with first-order predicate calculus.
For, given the right degree of formality,
even the dumbest triviality
may draw loud acclaim from the scholars: “miraculous!''
Was it worth heavy lifting? You bet.
But one thing is not clear to me yet:
If indeed, countless years down the line,
this ‘amazing potential’ of mine,
will it crawl out from under the debt?
Professors, it seems, seldom know
what epiphanies actually grow
during this four-year ivied vacation
that we indulge rather than learning a useful vocation
as our minds harvest the crops they did sow.
On a sun-flooded Wednesday this May
– Kleenex out! – I did wistfully say:
Thank you all for phenomenal years –
and your forgiveness of shameful arrears
that my librarians nod-winked away.
I shall miss this old campus, parlaying
what instructors have taught me, relaying
the respectable wisdom of ages,
well-embedded in footnote-rich pages,
into an argument surely worth weighing.
Sayonara, my Morningside Heights!
Site of a great many solvable plights,
scenes of wild Archimedean screams,
more than a few fertile visions and dreams -
Thanks for the power tools banning my frights!