College students and faculty know this point of the semester is the toughest. Spring break has recently passed, and finals are too far away to rejoice over the close of the term and too close to allow for much rest amid the amount of work still due.

The kids are tired.

Overwhelmed by the many day-to-day assignments, students can easily lose sight of the purpose for which they are struggling, which in turn may tempt them to cut corners in completing that work. "Get it done, no matter what" becomes the mantra.

I have seen this shoddiness in my students' work. And with more people attending college than ever before, I'm sure my students are not alone. Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa's 2011 Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses backs up my suspicions: Despite the increased investment of both time and money into higher education, too little substantial learning is taking place, and a commitment to excellence among students is a rare commodity.

What a pity. It's tragic for anyone pursuing higher education to hold it so lightly, but it's especially tragic for students at Christian colleges.

What follows is an open letter I wrote to my students last semester, during that inevitable trying time of the term, on these very themes.

Dear Friends,

I have been concerned about you for a while. In class, I see you overtired, underprepared, and just plain distracted. In e-mails, I read informal communications, irreverently addressed, with just a hint of entitlement. In assignments, I find evidence of haste, incomprehension, and apathy.

These trends worry me; they actually grieve me—for your sake. I know that an academic experience can be better than the one I witness many of you having. It can be empowering, not drudgery, ...

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