Cs and degrees

Originally posted 1.26.2007

It is (painfully) obvious to most who know me that I do not necessarily put forth painstaking effort in my academic endeavors.

It is simply a matter of priorities*, and school is not at the top of the list, instead ranking somewhere below rooting# (definition to come later. For now, let’s just say “rooting” is what young men do on weekends) and somewhere above plucking nose hairs. Plus, I have always worked during school, and that has always come first.

Anyway, this is what I’ve learned through six years of college. This is how you make it through (Oviously, I have not always followed my own advice):

1. Attend class

2. Turn in assignments

That is all. If you want a B average, I suggest turning in assignments on time and attending at least 90 percent of the time. If you want an A average, well, I cannot help you. I’ve never done that.

But if you’re merely interested in cruising through college, getting a degree in something innocuous like Communications, History, English, Sociology, Journalism, the main thing to do is show up. You don’t necessarily show up to learn anything. If you’re like most people, the last relevant thing you learned was in about 9th grade**.  My boss, a successful sports columnist and editor, said everything he needed to know about life, he learned by watching “Rockford Files.”^ You show up for two reasons: 1) This is how you retrieve assignments, and 2) To avoid getting slammed with non-attendance penalties. As recently as five years ago, college classes didn’t necessarily require attendance. But they’ve gotten all uppity these days, and I suspect their motives have little to do with concern for the student’s well being. Anyway, check out the syllabus^^ and find out how many classes you can miss and what the excused absence policy is. Don’t screw this up and you’re golden.

Secondly, just turn in stuff. I promise you, if you merely turn in every assignment, you will not get worse than a C. This doesn’t mean you have to do every assignment correctly, or necessarily even complete all the requirements of it. You’re just trying to get a few points here so you don’t have to ace the final to get to 70 percent overall.

Most classes are structured to allow stupid people and bad test-takers to get good grades. Classes aren’t so much about teaching as they are about getting people through. The best example of this was a spanish class I took at KU in which 70 percent of the grade was determined by homework assignments, half of which were on-line “quizzes” that allowed you to go back as many times as you wanted and re-do answers until you got a perfect score. But you had to do this every day. I got no worse than an 82 percent on all four of the tests, including the final, and registered a D in the class. Meanwhile, the D-bag who sat behind me who could barely say his name in spanish, got a B because he took all of the daily quizzes. My point is, most classes are structured this way. There are lots of built-in points that soften the effects of tests and hide your inability to master the material.

In probably 20-30 percent of classes, doing these things will get you a B. You’ll remember enough by sitting in class and doing assignments to perform well on tests. In the other 70-80 percent, you’ll have to study a little. But that’s only if you want to.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some pesky nose hairs to pluck.

* — Or abject irresponsibility.

# — There is a breed of pig called the “Pineywood Rooter,” which has a long snout it uses to dig up delights from the earth. This is what young males do when they are out and about. We go “rooting” for women, or another manner of good time, but mostly women.

** — Unless you went to public school, in which case you probably never learned anything.

^ — This is a man who also says Tom Jones was the best concert he’s ever seen. You be the judge.

^^ — Nothing about the syllabus, but that’s enough footnotes, I think.

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