Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

Think now or think later — but think

By · Thursday, August 18th, 2016
Image via teamsupport.com

Image via teamsupport.com

During a routine trip to the grocery store today, a conversation between two college students — the cashier and the bagger — caught my attention. The bagger said he had not yet registered for the one course his adviser told him he “must take” this fall. The cashier told him that she had registered for all of her classes on the first day of registration.

Two students. Two schools. Two approaches.

As an observer, it was amusing to listen in on the banter.

As an adviser to college students, it was just a bit disheartening.

Registration can be a stressful time for students in any year and any major. There are so many moving parts: days and times that might conflict; caps on the number of students allowed in each class section; courses that might be offered in only the fall or spring semester, but not both. Then there are other considerations: plans to study abroad; work-study obligations; jobs off campus; and, understandably, having time for a life outside the classroom.

With all of these variables, why would a student not register for a course at the first available opportunity? It’s a question that confounds us.

It could be procrastination. Or inattention to details. Disorganization. Complacency. Unwillingness to focus on the future. Confidence that it will all work out. All of the above. Or none.

While we have helped many a student figure out a mere semester’s worth of courses or an entire four-year plan, we haven’t figured out why or how some end up in difficult scheduling situations with no easy solution.

If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with our mantra to Think Like an Editor, then focus on the all-important element, which is to think. As we’ve said before, the ability to think is underrated. But it is an empowering trait and an all-important one for journalists of any age and at any stage in their careers.

Judging from the conversation in the grocery store, that bagger is thinking now. Good for him. Sometimes the most powerful lessons learned are the ones that cause the most angst at the moment.

And in a nod to youthful exuberance, it should be noted that that bagger was not disheartened at all. Although behind on his registration, he was just as pleasant and jovial, happy and content, responsible and respectful as that cashier who was on top of her game.

Two students. Two schools. Two approaches. Two good kids.

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