Ask a fifth-year: Back for break

Drew Baumgartner

Dear Drew,
I can’t wait to go home for break, but I’m a little unsure what to do with all that free time. Aside from visiting my old high school, what should be on my agenda for the next several weeks?
-Rearing for recess
I can only hope you’re kidding, Rearing. Visiting your old high school is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea, and I can’t help but question your motives. Do you want to see your still-in-high-school friends? You’re too cool for them now. Do you want to see your old teachers? They have no more interest in hanging out with college freshmen than the rest of us. Do you just want a nice walk down memory lane? That’s why we have pictures. It’s tempting to “go home again,” but high school is no longer your home – your former teachers and classmates have already moved on to worrying about the class of ’10.
Putting aside the fact that the trip will be entirely unfulfilling to you – and boy, will it ever – it will also make you look totally lame. The last time it’s cool for anyone to want to go to high school is in middle school, and it’s only okay then because it’s a step up. Going back now will make you seem either like a braggart – man, I’m glad I don’t have to go to Calculus anymore – or lonely and sad – man, it’s great to be back.
I suspect a lot of people go back to high school to feel important again, especially after being treated like dirt for the past three months, but the truth is, nobody ever thought you were important. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but senioritis is entirely founded on delusion. Going back now, without that delusion, your high school will just feel like a shell that once held good feelings. And let’s be honest, your friends probably don’t care about how much better the pizza at college is.
What, instead, can you do to fill your time at home? Unfortunately, as a freshman, you’re probably not mired in an honors project for which you desperately need to catch up, and concerning yourself with grad school applications would be a bit premature, so schoolwork probably isn’t your best option. Instead, I would use this time to organize the rest of the year as much as possible, keeping in mind that “organize” is a pretty broad verb.
The first thing I might worry about is a summer job. The quarter system puts us out on the summer job market a couple weeks after our counterparts on semesters, so the only way to secure a job is to have it figured out well in advance. An extended winter break will be the perfect time to research potential jobs and internships, and maybe even fill out a couple applications. Who knows? Maybe the search will turn up a job during break to help cover your holiday expenses.
You can also organize trips and events for your friends both at school and at home. Maybe it’s the former RLA coming out in me, but I love to come up with stupid things to do with my friends.
Just as an example, a couple friends of mine from high school have organized a Thanksgiving reunion party each year. Both the party and the planning keep them occupied in the days leading up to it, and the result is much more rewarding than the “Full House” reruns they would have otherwise devoted their time to.
It doesn’t have to be that involved – I’m partial to sledding trips – but planning and executing some activity will give both you and your friends something to do.
One of the biggest problems with the extended break is that you’ll likely be the only one of your friends home for several of those weeks. Your biggest challenge there might be re-learning how to live with your parents. By now, you’ve probably gotten used to doing what you want when you want, but chances are your parents aren’t ready for that. Be patient and mature, and they’ll eventually come around. In the meantime, find yourself a stack of good books and start brainstorming things you’d like to subject your friends to.
Have a question? Send it to Drew at baumgara@lawrence.edu

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