Susan Phillips is a professor of late medieval and early modern literature and culture at Northwestern who studies Chaucer, Shakespeare and everything in between. When she’s not working on her upcoming book on 15th to 17th century phrasebooks, she is building Legos with her 5-year-old son.

“I think that there’s so much pressure on students, imposed by society, imposed by parents, imposed by themselves, to maximize their time here by doing as many extracurriculars as they can and getting as many certificates or minors or majors as they can.

“I understand that pressure. But I would encourage students to think differently about maximizing their time here. I don’t think it’s about credentialing. Maximizing your time can be pursuing a major and doing that very well, or it can be dabbling, pursuing a range of interests, digging deep into a field rather than trying to do everything, or just giving yourself the time to think – to think.

“College is four years. It’s the only time in your whole life when your job is to think – to take courses, to explore ideas, to have your mind blown on a kind of daily basis by the ideas you come into contact with, whether that’s in the classroom or in conversations in the dorm or with friends elsewhere... So just breathe. Pursue things in depth. You’re never gonna get the chance to do this again.”