Deactivate Autopilot

Gavin Gaddis

Recently I’ve noticed some telltale signs that people on campus—students and staff alike—are beginning to fall into a form of human autopilot.

It seems to be a seasonal issue, as I’ve encountered it both at USI and at Henderson Community College when I was working on my Associate’s degree. Without fail I come back from fall break to find a cloud of apathy surrounding campus. Hunched shoulders, low-slung backpacks, nodding off in class, I see it all. This new atmosphere leads those affected to make mistakes more often than normal, as they’re simply going through the motions of school and work.

Discussion boards on Blackboard stay empty, someone writes on a projector screen after mistaking it for a whiteboard, student workers skip shifts to start assignments for which they’ve had weeks to prepare. We’ve all made little mistakes, but it’s time to be more aware of them.

Perhaps it’s the weather changing. Maybe the looming thought of finals is becoming too real. Maybe it’s simply a coincidence. I advise taking a moment to step back and analyze how things are going.

Did I write down all of the homework I need to have prepared by next week? Am I budgeting  useful amounts of work, school and social time? Am I only remembering fun assignments for classes I like?

That last question in particular is a large pitfall for me every fall semester. Fun weekly assignments not worth many points easily stick in my brain, while super important semester-long papers are shunted to the part of my brain where higher level algebra lives.

Even as I write this piece I’ve discovered an incredibly important piece of homework due very soon that slipped my mind, trapped in the bottom of my backpack between a protein bar and a Walther’s Golf and Fun laser tag score sheet.

It’s fine to mentally check out on occasion, but perhaps take a few moments to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders this week. Get some exercise into your daily routine, make an effort to study and write papers in different locations than you normally do. Find activities that are physically and mentally stimulating enough to banish that cloud of “meh” that’s following everyone around.