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On a failed attempt at an easy quarter


I’ve been getting advice on the best way to distribute my units throughout the three quarters since the very start of the school year. And all the advice, though coming from hundreds of different people, all sounded the exact same.

Freshman fall, you want to take it easy — 12 to 15 units because adjusting to Stanford is like a 5 unit course on its own. Gotcha. Ace. Been there, done that. Winter quarter, you step it up. That’s when everyone really loads it up and piles on their schedules. Winter is sad anyways, so you may as well be doing work. Sweet, duly noted. Spring quarter, you chill out. Camp Stanford. Darty season. Set yourself up for an easy quarter, because you’re not going to want to stay in and work while everyone’s outside enjoying themselves. For sure. Got it.

Well, I thought I had it. As it turns out, and as DJ Khaled would enthusiastically tell me: Congratulations, I played myself.

Really and truly, I wholeheartedly believed that I was setting myself up for a smooth ride from April to June. Granted, I didn’t want to take a bunch of stupid, filler classes just for the purpose of having an easy quarter, so I wasn’t choosing my classes for the purposes of them being easy. I was mainly just trying to choose classes that I’d find enjoyable, and I figured that would equate to them not feeling like real work. Because I mean, is it really work if you love doing it?

While in terms of the content of the classes, this is honestly probably the best quarter I’ve had, the “enjoyable” work is piling on just a little faster than I was expecting, and I’m having some trouble keeping up.

Does that mean that I’m not enjoying spring and all of the beautiful things that come with it (caterpillars excluded, because I hate those)? Certainly not. I’m just a little more stressed out because of it. Although, I do have to applaud myself for declining every offer to study outside. There’s something about having people play spike ball and and kick around a soccer ball right next to me that’s not exactly conducive to my concentration.

The more people I’ve talked to, the more it seems like we’re all sort of in the same boat.

“Why is spring quarter so hard?” is a phrase that I’ve heard come from at least 50 different mouths. Come to think of it, I actually don’t think I know anyone who has been coasting around campus without a worry in the world, yet none of my friends have been noticeably missing from the social scene either.

Students forcing their work to find an opening in their social schedule rather than forcing their social life to find an opening in between their work schedule? Unheard of! Well, this is what my friends and I all seem to be doing. Is it the most ideal? Not necessarily, but I’m starting to doubt that there’s really any other alternative.

A graduating senior recently told me that there’s no such thing as an easy quarter at Stanford. Yes, I’m sure everyone’s experience is different, and I probably won’t be able to answer that question until I’m graduating myself, but still, perhaps there’s a flaw in the three-quarter plan that has been told and retold countless times. I’ll rewrite it.

Spring quarter, you chill out. Camp Stanford. Darty season. Also caterpillar season. Set yourself up for an easy quarter, because you’re not going to want to stay in and work while everyone’s outside enjoying themselves. It may not be easy, but just try to make it so that the work you have to do will be as enjoyable as work can really be. There we go, much more accurate.


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