Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

Things I would never have done as a college student

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These are in no particular order. They are not meant to imply someone’s moral or cultural superiority. I suppose I intend this as a document of how things have changed.

Here’s stuff I never did in college. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone who ever did this kind of stuff while I was studying:

-Ask a professor after two days if he “finally” graded my paper.

-Ask a professor who was not my instructor if s/he could “give me the information” I needed to complete an assignment. (Example: a student knew I teach English, so he came in to tell me he’s writing a paper about teaching and needed some “info” on how to teach English. He essentially wanted to interview me for “answers”.)

-Expect a professor to tell me where I had to be at what time on any day of the week for any class.

-Expect a professor to give me a summary of a reading assignment.

-Expect a professor to answer my questions on weekends or during non-business hours. I don’t mean questions like, “What does Joyce mean by this obsession with the consubstantiation of the father and the son?” I mean things like, “Could you give me an understanding of why we’re supposed to read this book?”

-Mark anything “extremely urgent”. (Example: This is extremely urgent!! I have to work tonight and tomorrow and will not be able to do my writing assignment. I hope this will not count against me!)

-Tell a professor that they were  “harder” or “easier” than anyone else and expect them to be happy about this.

-Deliberately ignore instructions, or ever ignore instructions for any reason.

-Suggest alternative assignments. (This assignment would be easier for me if you didn’t require such-and-such.)

-Explain why I can’t learn something. (“I need a video for this because I’m a visual learner.”)

-Ask, following the final exam, what else I had to do that semester.

-Negotiate. “If you get rid of this assignment for me, I’ll work extra hard on the other one.”

-Attend classes in which I had handed in zero assignments.

-Rewrite exam questions. (I’ll ask a question regarding Bob Fosse’s film-making technique and get an answer that says the student was really very happy that I chose Cabaret. It was really a great film.)

-Argue about what expectations are fair. (“It’s unfair to expect us to demonstrate our knowledge of film by making us write.”)

-Reprimand a professor for not being somewhere. (“You’re supposed to be in your office hours from 1:00.”)


Now, what *would* I have done? Things like this:

-Write nasty things about a professor in the toilet where I knew he takes craps, taking care to disguise my handwriting.

-Kiss their ass by reading about 1/4 of some book they had written and praise it in public or during class.

-Explain, even if I was learning fuck all, that I was learning some very special thing.

-Excuse myself for having failed to complete the reading assignment.

-Hand at least one paper in early to a professor’s mailbox, getting it stamped by secretaries, especially towards the beginning of the semester. I would do this strategically and ask, “Did you get that paper. I did it early because I knew I’d have this bullshit later on in the week.”

-Find some shit in the bibliography of a primary text and read one chapter from it to make it look like I knew more than I was expected to. (Sometimes this backfired.)

-Choose an essay topic that would satisfy requirements in multiple classes and require only mild adjustment to make the papers “seem different”.

-Quote from the professor’s favorite author, even if I had read jack shit from that author.

-Devise ways to get information from the best student in the class. (In the English department at U of I, this was usually possible simply by offering someone free beer or weed.)

-Stop to chat with my professors in places like hallways, libraries or on the quad. Ask them what they worked on outside of class.

-Go to after hours events a professor advertised. Things like screenings, readings and exhibits offered students and profs a chance to bullshit together and to see what profs were like after two glasses of wine.

-Register for multiple sections of the same class to compare them to each other, then drop the ones that sucked. I’d do this before final tuition was calculated.

-Attend the workshops and the volunteer review sessions even if I didn’t have any questions.

-Say things like, “The Cliff Notes miss this part and that part.”

-Use words like “temporal”.

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