COLUMN: ‘I have an idea, let’s make a pattern’


Dan Hahn

Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Dan Hahn, Columnist

The title of this column is actually a direct quote from my three-year-old daughter.

Here is how a typical scene unfolds: out of nowhere she says the phrase “I have an idea.” What follows has zero relevance to what is happening presently, nor is there context about what she is referring. Just a simple “let’s make a pattern.” Okay… 

I will never understand the three-year-old mind, but I do know she likes repeating this phrase over and over. It seems my kid is stuck on repeat, and I wonder about her fascination with patterns. Is she doing art projects at school? Is she repeating something she heard on TV? Who knows?

When I think about the academic year coming to a close, I think about patterns; being stuck on repeat, and the comfort of routine.

Throughout the year, patterns form and grades are representations of those patterns.

Humans are creatures of habit and routine, and our performance reflects this. For now, we all deserve a sigh of relief, and before we shift gears to the next thing in life, it is important to consider the patterns of the past and set good intentions for the ones we will make in the future.

I know structure is one thing I will miss during the break between semesters. While academic deadlines come and go, we are often too busy to notice how we have changed, likely for the better, because of the structure college life gives us. 

The hustle and bustle; the worry and the toil; and the hard work all add up. The struggle, structure, and patterns of academic life makes us into better versions of ourselves, that is, compared to the people we would be if left to our own devices.

Soon we will all be re-acclimating to life without the structure and familiar settings we have become so accustomed to over the last eight-ish months or so. Summer break is a time for a much-needed change of pace. So, be assured that there will be new patterns of behavior.

And it is important not to let the change of pace completely derail our aspirations that spurned us to enroll in college to begin with.

If by the end of finals there is a feeling of complete burnout, I would say take a week or so off, then re-engage by reading books and articles related to your academic and personal interests.

I know when I was younger, I should have made more of an effort to reach out to teachers that made an impression on me. 

Apparently, my three-year-old is old enough to give me advice, though she is not quite old enough for me to give her advice. One piece of advice I would give her if she were in college is that it is never too early to reach out to a professor and ask for advice on books, articles, movies, and so forth.

Now is the time to connect because before too long, a college graduate will need professional references when applying for jobs, and teachers will remember a student’s willingness to stay engaged in the academic off-season.

Of course, relax and recharge, but set some goals for yourself in your downtime. Ultimately, make sure to use the time wisely. Whatever it is will likely become a pattern, for better or for worse. Make choices that will position you for success in the next endeavor.

Like a three-year old would say: “let’s make a pattern,” but make sure it is a good one.

Dan Hahn is an English composition/rhetoric graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.