I love Calvin & Hobbes. They have all the best answers to homework and tests. When Calvin couldn’t do math, he wrote that answering the question was against his religious beliefs. And when he was asked to define a pronoun, he said it was a noun that lost its amateur status.
According to Calvin, then, being a professional means that you’re no longer an amateur. We would say that a professional gets paid.
So how can I, who gets paid nothing but instead expends time, money, and effort, be a professional student?
How can I, who searches for jobs at least three days a week, be a professional student?
How can I, who acknowledges just how much I have to learn, be a professional student?
Sure, there are those who get paid to be students (not loans – that’s a whole different blog posting!). They get stipends and grants that pay for both their education and their living expenses. They scoff at those of us who have to work to support ourselves while we study. They come out with their graduate degrees, never having spent a moment in the real world, but instead constantly and consistently hidden in their ivory tower, complaining of being a “poor student” but emerging without the cocoon of student loan debt to break out of.
Okay, so maybe there’s a little bitterness there. Maybe I would have loved the change to not have to pay out of pocket – and worse, to take student loans – but my choices were more limited for numerous reasons, and while I may be a bit bitter about it, at the same time, I’m happy to say that I’ve been out in the real world, and I’ve had real world experiences. They make me a better student (and a better teacher). And while I sure wouldn’t mind being a professional student sometimes, eventually, I’m not one now, and I doubt I’ll ever be.