Ryan Schuetzler

Researcher and techie extraordinaire

Reflections on 20 Years in School

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As I was heading out the door this morning to start classes once again at the University of Arizona, my wife pointed out to me that, including kindergarten, this would be my 20th first day of school. That’s nuts! First of all, that made me feel a little old. Second, it made me think: after this long in school, I’ve gotta be pretty darn good at it. And finally, it made me worry that I will never be done. In a way, that’s true. When I’m a professor, I’ll still have first days of school. It won’t be quite the same, but my life will still revolve at least a little around a semester schedule.

I figured that after this long in school, I’d jot down a few thoughts on my experience so far. Probably nothing terribly insightful, but fun for me, anyway.

  1. Lesson #1: Don’t worry about it. This is an important life lesson for anybody, I think. I try, but don’t always succeed, at living my life by this principle. There will be tests, there will be papers, there will be all sorts of difficult things in your educational career. Do the best you can, but know that the best you can do is the best you can do. There is no use worrying what you could or should have done, except in that it can help you be more motivated for next time.
  2. Learn how to write. This is especially important in high school, because you will be writing a lot in college. I never loved it, or liked it. My English teachers probably all hated me because I gave them a really hard time. Nevertheless, it is really really important to learn how to write well. This skill will serve you through the rest of your life (I think).
  3. Develop a hobby. More importantly, develop a hobby you can keep up. Not so much school-related as life-related, but this is something I’ve kinda struggled with. My hobbies in high school were swimming and that’s pretty much it. I’m not sure it counts as a hobby, but that’s what I did. Now that I have a lot busier schedule, it’s hard for me to find time to swim. I don’t have a pool nearby that I can swim in, so I pretty much don’t. I’ve taken up programming, blogging, and general nerdiness in an attempt to find a hobby I can stick with. If I’d found one earlier, I think I’d be better off.
  4. Take classes that interest you. This applies more to late high school and college, but it’s definitely awesome to take a class and learn about something you think is really awesome. I took college courses in Arabic and scuba diving, and I loved both of them. Arabic will probably never be useful for me again, but I am still glad I took the class. Scuba diving, on the other hand, could be a really cool hobby. If only I didn’t live in Arizona…
  5. Finally, enjoy it. You won’t be in school forever. Sure it’s stressful, and tests and papers suck, but there are a lot of great things about being in school. It’s a pretty nice life, overall.