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The Daily Tar Heel

Stop and smell the roses this summer

Summer vacation has arrived! Freshly cut grass, pool parties, sunburns, family, friends — and perhaps a sizzling romance to match the scorching summer sun.

Oh wait. You’re in summer school.

Before you come slap me for my blatant use of juxtaposition, please allow me to clarify. I am one of you. I have consciously, purposefully, rather reluctantly but nevertheless dutifully chosen to postpone the previously stated summer endeavors in order to further my education and — hopefully — assure my graduation within four years.

Who in their right mind would trade the freedoms of summer for more school work, especially after completing two long, grueling semesters? Based on research by Francis Caro, most members of the middle class.

Caro’s article entitled “Deferred Gratification, Time Conflict and College Attendance” proposes that the distinction between social classes comes from the unique ability of middle class members to defer gratification.

Basically, Caro says my choice to attend summer school is a means of postponing the immediate satisfactions of summer in order to fulfill the later goal of graduating from a prestigious university with a decent GPA. And maybe he’s onto something.

Every stage in my life thus far has been defined by what I was about to experience. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to grow up and be one of the big kids. When I was in middle school, I desperately wanted to turn 16 so that I could get my driver’s license and drive myself to the movies.

And when I was a senior in high school, I dreamed of the day I would lounge on the quad here at UNC.

Odds are you have undergone similar situations, where you dream of something beyond the present. There’s probably been a moment in your life when you’ve waited for a time when life would simply be better.

But as you bustle back and forth between classes this summer, ask yourself: have you ever finally reached that point in the future when everything feels perfect?

Granted, the desire for a better future is one of the greatest methods of human motivation. If we were completely content, we would never fight to save the environment, question social prejudices or progress in science or technology.

But I fear that modern society places too much emphasis on this misleading future “perfection” and ignores the simple beauty of everyday existence. So, my fellow summer schoolers, I challenge you to perform one small, instantly gratifying activity every day this summer.

Buy the song you keep singing from the radio, take the long roundabout path to class, read snippets of a good — or trashy — novel. Those little things won’t hurt your future goals one bit.
Relish in the limited time we have at this wonderful university. We all deserve to stop every now and then and enjoy the glorious Carolina blue sky.

Caitlin Cantrell is a columnist from the Daily Tar Heel. She is a senior biology major from Hillsborough, NC. Contact her at

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