Religion meets Higher Education
I did have some memorable experiences that had a huge impact on my perceptions of marginality and mattering described by Schlossberg (1984). One such experience happened during my first college course when I was instantly marginalized. I had just received my first college syllabus and was busy penciling in test dates when I realized that the first exam coincided with the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah. I was surprised and disappointed that the professor had not been more thoughtful in planning the test dates: this was a large state institution and there were well over three hundred students in my class, someone else had to be in my same situation. My immediate reaction was fear; I had been a college student for less than an hour and did not have the coping skills necessary to handle this scheduling conflict. Many questions whizzed through my head: was it permissible to request an alternative test date or was I expected to simply disregard an important religious holiday? I’m not sure how I got the courage to do so, but I meekly approached the professor after class and explained the problem to her. She quickly apologized for the poor scheduling and set up a special time for me to come to her office to take the test. It was at this moment, that I realized, perhaps for the first time, that someone officially connected with the university was concerned about my well-being. It was the first time that I officially mattered, but it was only in the form of attention or “the most elementary form of mattering (…) the feeling that one commands the interest or notice of another person” (Schlossberg, p.9).