Yes, you’re right: not only is that not a real disease, it sounds really dumb. But still, it’s an affliction of mine.
No, not the way Wikipedia describes it. Apparently being a perpetual student means continuing to take classes for years without working toward a degree. I never had that issue. Perhaps the disorders need to be renamed in order to distinguish them. Perpetual means “continuing forever” while another word like perennial might better convey the students who only spend a few years at it. I’m definitely in the perpetual camp: this is a lifelong thing for me, not just a phase.
I went straight from high school to college; not only never took a semester off in college, but stayed for summer term almost every year; went straight from my undergrad degree into grad school (and was so bored the summer in between since I’d gotten so used to summer school); loved grad school more than I thought was possible; died of boredom during the couple years I stayed home after grad school; shouted hallelujah when I got hired by the community college to teach (if I can’t be a student, at least I can still be at school regularly); and have been scheming how to uproot my family while I go through a PhD program sometime soon, after which I plan to be a full-time professor for the rest of my life, never retiring.
Other signs and symptoms?
- feeling green with envy when my sister describes the cool lectures and forums and other fascinating college gigs she’s participating in and saying to her, “No way! I want to go hear about how Inception relates to Jungian philosophy!”
- considering my access to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) through the college library’s subscription one of the best benefits of being faculty
- loving those continuing ed catalogs and wishing I could take every class from Architecture to Zoology (excited to someday have all kids in school so that I can take advantage of the other greatest faculty benefit: free courses!)
- hating that I’m an ignorant American who only speaks one language (and wanting to rectify that by running off to some country — any country — that primarily speaks a language other than English)
- wanting to know enough Spanish to read Don Quixote or enough French to read Les Mis, etc; willing to learn dead languages like Latin just to better understand other things
- itching to write research papers, even eager to get started on a dissertation someday (and staring at my students in disbelief when they tell me they can’t think of anything they want to research — seriously? they aren’t freakin’ excited to go learn something they’ve always wanted to know about and then challenge themselves to frame a new perspective on it in writing? does that mean I’m weird?)
- being addicted to the library hold system; having my library card number memorized; having a quick-click button for the library’s website on my internet browser; having a tendency to check out more books than I can read at once but not being able to stop myself because I’m excited about all of them
- disliking predictable movies and other simplistic entertainment because I want intellectual stimulation even when I’m relaxing (see this post from March)
- inheriting the gene for Perpetual Student Itis from both sides of the family (for example, having a dad who left his family of five kids for a few months so he could go on “study abroad” to Alaska for a semester, sleeping in a tent and bathing in freezing cold streams with a class full of environmentalists; also, my maternal grandparents both having master’s degrees long before it was even the norm to get any college degree)
So, as you can see, this is definitely something to be taken seriously. No known cure exists, so all you can do is keep the cravings at bay. Which is why I’m probably due for a trip to the library today to pick up the herbal remedy books I have on hold.
My poor kids are also very susceptible to catching it from me. Hubby sometimes threatens them with “no college” just to see at what age they’ll start reacting in horror at the very thought. I’m predicting that’ll happen sooner than we think.
Can anybody relate to any of this? (Well, besides my sister, who is already depressed about her upcoming graduation.) Am I off-the-radar weird?