The Freshman Five – How to Survive in College Without Really Trying

Getting into college is hard, but staying in really is a piece of cake.

Having been on both sides of the podium – as a student from a sheltered life thrown into the pre-twitter mire, and then as a prof (without Glen Beck’s chalkboard) gazing out – it seems the survival  rules are still the same and pretty simple.

  1. Mostly, to keep those profs thinking you care about learning – even when your priorities are not academic – you just need to show up in class, look a little interested, read the assignment now and then so you can ask a decent question.  Steer away from:  “Is this going to be on the test ?(the prof won’t tell you anyway); I missed the last class – did you do anything important? (it doesn’t matter – you missed it anyway).
  2. Do the assignments and hand them in on time.  Incompletes can pile up, and you’ll never want to do them anytime – might as well get it over with.
  3. Sit in front of the class.  It’s a good place to hide – most profs project to the back of the room, and look for those asleep behind sunglasses in the last row. You’ll hear better, see better, and get out of the room faster.
  4. Be on time to class. Grand entrances are better saved to impress others.  Besides, some profs lock the door after starting –  all get annoyed.
  5. Finally, listen and be present.  Your glassy-eyed stare as you plug into an Ipod, Iphone, Ipad won’t fool the prof.  If you’re going to put the time in anyway, might as well be there.

As a guide to learning, I remember being assigned Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.  The path to enlightenment makes more sense much later in life.  For now, survival…

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