In real life, it’s not all a fairy tale mess of good versus evil. There’s plenty of shades of gray lurking here and there, some lighter shades and some darker shades/ oftentimes, you may be surprised to find that it’s those very shades of gray that gets the job done. You can be as straight shooting as you can manage, but time and again, you’ll come across an obstacle you desperately need to get past to get to your goal. There are many scenarios – time running out on you, circumstances getting in the way of proper preparation, and more – but we don’t generally seek any justification for what you may find yourself doing. And when the time comes, you probably wont either.
Bottom line: sometimes you’ll need to go off the beaten path to get to your destination at any cost. There are times when all the properly provided ammunition in the world won’t suffice. It’s at times like these that we feel more than a little taste of unlimited ammo is your ticket.
1. Be not nobody. Try to make a good showing of yourself during the first month or so. Of course, you’re expected to be good and effective all @*$# sem, but if you really cant be bothered to be a good student all that time then at least make yourself significantly rememberable during the first few months. Pull out all the stops, but make it believable. We’ve heard of some pretty funny stories about morons who tried too hard.
2. Don’t be late. For exams, for classes, for anything. Being late sends the message that you don’t care enough about the subject. Of course, if you don’t care about the subject, your prof won’t give a rat’s ass about your begging.
3. Its all right to be a little grade conscious. Don’t put a 1 on a slagging pedestal, but compute your grades from time to time and be aware of the percentages [ and how they stack up]. You never know when you might need to do extra well on a project or report to drag your ugly 5-bound grades upward.
4. Sometimes you won’t have a choice as to which prof you can pick, but you should always research your professors. Some won’t think it necessary to detail their quirks when introducing themselves. Check out their exam strategy – multiple choice, essays, viva voce [ a nicer, less misunderstood term for oral exam] – and keep that in mind. Also keep in mind their rules, their preferences and what pisses them off. This is not for sucking up, mind you, this is just so you know what to do and what not to do.
5. Find out where to get sample exams [ or past exams, if your prof changes exams every sem] and review materials. There are different agencies you’ll be able to seek help on this from the DLRC, academic orgs, your prof, former students and those little Xerox machine outlets in your college.
6. Some subjects are MUCH easier when taken during the summer term. Consider that 5 months worth of learning is crammed into a month or so – so something’s GOTTA have been left out, and it’s usually the unnecessary time filler present during the regular sem. Take note, however, some subjects are HARDER over the summer because of this very same reason. Something’s gotta have been left out, sure, but sometimes it’s the time you need to study for the exams.
7. Studying as a group is often underrated and misunderstood, but can be very effective. Just make sure to stay away from alcohol, TV, movies or any drugs [ among other things] and you should be fine. Your classmates will have learned things you missed and vice versa. Plus, a collaboration of different [ and consequently, peer teaching] styles can prove effective.
8. Get some sleep before exams. Hell, before anything. You may have more free time than ever on your hands, but you don’t have to spend all that time awake. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of a good solid night’s sleep, young or old. Try waltzing into class on two hours of sleep and trying to run a broadcast production, solve a machine problem, or run a report on the Montessori method among many other college-level things, which WILL include exams and you’ll see what we mean.
9. Study. Boring? Shut up and do it. You’ll find it works much better than flying by the seat of your pants. After all, your pants aren’t the ones in college, YOU are.
10. For that matter, don’t study a night before the exam. Not even a day before the exam. Study well in advance. This may be UP, and you may hear cramming is practically tradition, but many traditions are counterproductive and stupid. Be better than that. Cramming is inevitable but not compulsory.
11. Late teacher? Check your watch and get your bags. If a teacher is late for more than 1/3 of class time [which, with a one-and- a-half hour classes, is 30 minutes] and doesn’t leave word to wait, feel free to get up and go. At the very least you’ll be early for your next class. At the very best, the exam or whatever it is will be postponed for next meeting [ or cancelled altogether, woo hoo!], and you will have lots of time to study of goof off.
12. Get all the contact numbers you can get. And mind you, you’ll need all the contact numbers you can get. You’ll need to ask for help, for assignments you missed, requirements you’ll be needing, and a million other things, including dates.
13. Be aware of your class standing slacker! If you feel you’re slipping, check with your prof immediately. This is college, the prof isn’t required to give a damn about how you’re doing, but YOU are. Ask about how you are doing in class and what you can do to alleviate the situation or maintain your standing. This not only gets you a second chance at life [if you’re lucky]; it also shows your prof you care about the subject [ and passing it ]. Never mind that if you cared MORE [or REALLY cared at all] you wouldn’t BE in this fix.. whatever, just ask.
14. A note on attendance and absences: it sometimes helps to have friends who know your student numbers and who can simulate your signature. Wink wink nudge nudge say no more…
15. Maximize your absences [ six but the number will sometimes depend on the prof – profs have been known to allow as little as 3 and as many as 13 sessions missed. ] you might find allowable absence time useful for malling or dating or goofing off, but they’ve been known to be more useful as time off to study or prepare [ if taken before a big exam or report]. You’ll learn [as you go along] about when the cost is clear and when a day off is most needed. Of course, if you’re carrying heavy diarrhea or missing a leg, feel free to take a personal day and GET SOME HELP!
16. History has likely taught you that the back of a classroom is less watched than the front. There are many ways to use this to your advantage: you can either sit up front and be noticed and known, or sit in the back and risk being called just for sitting in the back. You can also possibly risk sneaking in late through the rear entrance and sit in the back for a bit, signing the attendance sheet as it passes you.
17. Speaking of attendance: some classes will require attendance sheets [ this admittedly makes sneaking in and cheating on attendance fairly easy], while some classes will have the prof calling the roll. Note that some profs call the roll at the beginning AND end of the class, so don’t go sneaking out halfway through the subject.
18. Homesick? Deal with it. No, seriously. Don’t worry, you’ll have help: you may be rooming with [or classmates with] someone from your hood or a reasonably close by town in the region. They’ll prove invaluable to getting over homesickness. You can also choose to join an org right away [ there are several region oriented orgs, as well as interest oriented ones] to surround yourself with a circle of friends and ease your longing for the good old gang. This doesn’t always work out perfectly, however, as no one is perfect. But its worth a shot, unless you want to be known forever as Brooding Loner Guy.
19. College tired of your monkey-ass? Your passed number of units heading for hell in a handbasket? Caught in the middle of shifting procedures without a leg to stand on? You’re likely going to end up a Non-Major. Better wake up and smell the napalm little slacker! This only gives you a year’s [ 2 sems] worth of temporary life in the university. If you haven’t managed to find solid ground [read: a new college] by then, its good-bye la-z boy!
20. When sick [or pretending to be sick], have a valid medical certificate ready. Excuse letters won’t work with everyone anymore you know.
There are many more things for you to learn and do and put to use, but now is not the time. After all, you need to walk before you can learn to fly.:D