With 16 (!!!) days until graduation, I’ve found myself reflecting on the amazing and sometimes comically frustrating experience I’ve called undergrad.
After a horrible first semester at a state school, I found myself lost and in search of something new. A friend recommended Houghton and within the week I was on campus for a tour. My love of this place was immediate, and continues to this day. As my years here passed, though, the cynicism toward Houghton I heard from peers clouded my view of the place that had pulled me from one of the darkest times of my life. Exclamations of horrible professors, a mishandled administration, and threats of transferring came from all around. The more Houghton’s flaws were brought to my attention, the more I began searching for them without even realizing it. Soon I’d forgotten the childlike love I’d had of this place, and criticized everything Houghton offered me.
Senior year rolled around and the nostalgia, that everyone promised would come, appeared. This nostalgia took me back to the first time I’d first come to Houghton as a naive teenager excited for life. This was the Houghton I loved, one that had stoked the flames of passions and taught me to be who I am. This year I truly came to grasp how unique Houghton truly is, and how important it is to appreciate it it’s flaws instead of simply complaining about them.
Now, before you grab your picket signs and prepare to tell me how easy that is to say, and how working for the Star makes me biased, hear me out.
One of the most common complaints I’ve heard about Houghton is in regards to its grading scales. We all moan about the professors who don’t curve their grades, leaving you just shy of that A you’ll never let anyone forget you deserve. Yes, Houghton’s academics are difficult and it’s frustrating, but I’ve never had professors that want me to succeed more than the ones here. I’ve been given grace, generous extensions, knowledgeable explanations, and more compassion than one can measure. My professors have pushed me to the limit of my academic ability, but have never let me fall over the edge.
We complain about mandatory chapels, but how else would we achieve the feeling of community (cue eye roll) Houghton continues to foster? We complain about how often we say and emphasize community, but where else will professors pray with and for you as you struggle through a difficult semester? We complain the administration won’t tell us more, but who else will adamantly protect their students and employees?
We complain, and complain, and complain. Professors, Sodexo, Safety and Security, parking tickets, broken dryers, lengthy papers, other majors, etc. There’s always something we’re complaining about, and that’s not going to change, not as new students replace the seniors each year, and not as you leave Houghton and enter the real world.
One thing my time at the Star has taught me, is that in order order to truly appreciate the beauty and wonder Houghton has to offer, you have to learn to love the bad. I don’t mean love in the sense that you become enamoured with every flaw Houghton has. You don’t need to overlook that there are, indeed, problems with the institution. Anything good it life will have flaws, that’s a fact. But enjoy the fact that Houghton has flaws. Despite seeing themselves as serving God’s kingdom, they don’t claim to be perfect, and there’s something to be said for that. They’re humble enough to admit when they’ve done wrong, but continue to try to do the right thing in everything they do.
Revel in Houghton’s problems, let them challenge you, and help you grow. Don’t just appreciate the good that Houghton has to offer, appreciate the challenges it presents and the struggles it faces. Without challenge and obstacles, there is no way to measure growth. Let the obstacles stand before you, but don’t let them stop you from getting everything you can out of this place. Be the one to use those obstacles to help you mature physically, spiritually, and mentally instead of someone who simply complains about the roadblocks.
Dani is a senior majoring in writing and communication.