The toughest question in the SET questionnaire

Dearest Friend,

You can tell that your undergraduate life is ending when even the most stoic teachers you know start bursting into random speeches about the necessity of making mistakes and how thankful they are to have had your class as students.

Herr entered the classroom this afternoon feeling very appreciative and happy about his day in general, so happy that he didn’t seem to mind that none of us kids could properly describe a pie chart of Germany’s 2005 automobile industry in coherent sentences. He had come from a meeting, he said, and it had been so moving and so heartfelt that he couldn’t quite shake off the good vibes he got from it yet. It’s not the last time we’re meeting because we still have exams and other submissions to finish for his class, but he did take the last few minutes of today’s lesson to thank us all for being his students. That was when I knew all the drama that I’d been struggling with for the past four years had a point. In many ways, I was valued by the people around me. It may not have shown through appreciation, but I had been valued for the last four years. To someone, I was not a waste of space or just another kid in a classroom. To someone, I am worth thanking simply for existing. That makes all the difference.

To me, the toughest problem in the SET questionnaire had always been the one about ranking this specific teacher in comparison to all other teachers you’ve had in the university. It’s difficult to me because, if you know you’re still going to meet professors for what’s left of your undergraduate life – that is, if you’re still a freshman, sophomore or a junior, etc. – how would you know that you’ve already been taught by the best? But here, at what seems to be the end of my undergraduate life, I finally know who I will rank as the best.

For all that I have learned, I will always be grateful.

A.

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