It's the beginning of the advising weeks, so faculty are sitting with students and talking to them about next semester, and the one after that, and the one after that. As a student myself, I always found advising and picking courses to be a thoughtful, reflective, worthwhile, and eye-opening experience. I had high hopes for each new semester and the challenges it would bring inside and outside the classroom. Every dime that I spent, then, seems such a sound investment to me, now.
As you're looking at schedules and contemplating your education and your future, consider making the most of your experience in college. Definitely consider studying abroad (as has been mentioned on this blog so often!). Also, consider undertaking an internship for academic credit or otherwise. Please see any art faculty if you have questions about recent interns and where they have served. Consider, also, taking an extra class -- if it will fit into your 18-hour schedule -- just for the sake of learning. As a full-time student you're entitled to take 12-18 hours at the same rate of tuition. Why not make the most of it, by taking additional hours -- beyond what you "need" -- and, possibly, taking them pass/fail or auditing them? That way, you can gain knowledge without having to invest as much time as if you were a full participant in the course.
Finally, consider that education is an investment. Despite the controversial stance coming from the Occupy Wall Street movement as to the astounding amount of college debt, there is Obama-style HOPE forthcoming (likely) with the President's announcement last week of plans "to expand loan consolidation and income-based repayment programs a bit." Consider, too, Justin Wolfers's observation that when you take out a student loan or undertake some other investment in your own education, “the asset you are borrowing against is human capital” and that, unlike home values, the value of human capital isn’t likely to drop sharply in a year, he says. (See article here.)
Invest in yourself. The rewards and payoff may not be immediate, but your hard work, diligence, and a stake in your own education may serve you well down the road.
Pictures, from the top: Angelina and Earl Grey at GC Commencement, 2010; GC grad Hannah (GC'11) at the Speed Museum, spring 2011; Jacob (GC '11) at the opening of our exhibition for Curatorial Studies, Fall 2010; Anna (GC '14) and Earl Grey at the International Museum of the Horse, Fall 2011.