Up This Week? A 5-Pack of Posts…

Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on February 9, 2009

typewriter2          Editor’s Note: Ever since last Thursday, we’ve been riding the Led Zeppelin here at The Wiz, which is my made up and completely stupid way of saying we’ve been receiving a “Whole Lotta Love.”  Thanks in part to the article in the Post-Dispatch, and also in part to a number of new sites that are linking into the DWCG, we’ve spent the last five days counting visitors to the website the way Sesame Street’s Count von Count tallies anything – which is to say, jovially, and with an Eastern European accent.  ONE CLICK OF THE MOUSE!  TWO?  TWO CLICKS OF THE MOUSE!!!  THREE CLICKS OF THE MOUSE!!!!  Anyway, as a way of showing our gratitude (think of it as a Valentine’s Day celebration – or, if you’re not the romantic type, think of it as a tribute to our nation’s Sixteenth President, whose birthday is on Thursday), this week we’ll be rolling a new post on the main-page every day, as well as methodically updating the content of every tab on the right.  Up first, a guest post from Funktified Acoustic – who will be sharing with you his thoughts on challenging yourself when you schedule your classes for next semester, and achieving “The Moral Victory.”



          – a guest post from Funktified Acoustic

goodwillhuntingmath          Over the past 6 months, my reading of Wiz PhD’s various musings about collegiate success has led me to consider what lessons I could impart to the world’s younger, less funktified, acoustics.  And, here’s what I’ve got.  To all of you students who are just beginning to roam through the halls of various dormitories and/or pass out drunk on any number of campus sidewalks:

          You are not Will Hunting.

          Nor are you the kid that hung out with Sean Connery in Finding Forrester, nor are you Dexter of Dexter’s Laboratory. Please don’t take offense. None of us are – because those people aren’t real people. They’re fictional characters (one of them is even animated), and a natural ability to understand anything and everything that’s put in front of you is a fictional talent. What this means is that at some point in your collegiate career, you’ll have to work hard to get a passing grade in a class, even if you are exceptionally smart. And most likely, you’ll be unprepared for that event.

          If you’re in college, chances are you did alright in High School.  It also probably means that you have enough natural ability that you didn’t have to apply yourself too much and had plenty of free time for athletics, dating, and watching reruns of Saved by the Bell.

          That is not at all a bad thing.

          What is a bad thing is that college is often more academically challenging than your high school experience, and a doozey of a grade will lead to a very awkward conversation with your parents:

          Concerned parents: Why did you get these barely passing grades when all you’ve gotten previously were amazing grades?

          You: I was watching Saved by the Bell and drinking copious amounts of alcohol while engaging in dangerous sexual practices.

          Obviously this is a position you don’t want to be in. So what do you do? I’ll tell you what I did.

          When I graduated High School following the Fall semester of my senior year, Dr. Wizard and I formed a little acoustic duo. We thought we were going places. This was misinformed (at best). Unbeknownst to us (and most of our loyal, highly intoxicated collegiate fan base), we were also highly mediocre. This band and its accompanying falling action led to a two-and-a-half year period in my life I like to call “The Lost Years.” Was I on a long bender a la Ray Milan in The Lost Weekend? No.  But I was floating aimlessly a la Rory Gilmore after her disastrous newspaper internship with Logan’s dad. Unmotivated and underemployed, I then chose to attend college.

          Unfortunately, putzing around for a quarter decade did not place me in a frame of mind well-suited for academic success. So, I made a plan, and it went like this: even though I was a history major, I would take a chemistry class during the first semester of my freshmen term. The reasons were threefold:

1.     I had never taken a chemistry course in my life and felt that the pursuit of some knowledge in the physical sciences would make me a more well-rounded individual (this was true).

2.     The introductory chemistry course at my university is very difficult and is often used to weed out weak pre-med and engineering students (this is mostly true).

3.     I would have to work exceptionally hard just to pass this class (this was very true, much like the accusations against Coach Carr).  Editor’s Note: That’s a Mean Girls reference.

          Between my lack of comfort with science courses and the reputation this class had among my peers, I knew I would have to work harder than I ever did at anything if only to pass.  The result?  It is the only “B” on my college transcript to date. Am I disappointed about that? Absolutely not. Working hard for a B was the best and most instructive experience of my academic career. It hurt my GPA, but it helped me learn to study daily, keep up with homework, go to classes, and go to office hours. These things are all keystones for any academically successful student, and learning to make them a part of my daily life continues to serve me well.

          Short Version: If you’re not used to working hard, academically bite of more than you can chew immediately so you can learn how to do it before it’s out of your hands. It’s like running with weights on your ankles to train, or those crazy strength shoes that Coach Considine made me wear in eighth grade.


One Response

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  1. Beans said, on February 15, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Excellent post, FA. Finally, a post that mentions Gilmore Girls, Mean Girls, and Dexter’s Laboratory! Truly fantastic writing with great advice. I feel a lot better about taking that graduate course in linguistics now (even though I felt like I was shooting myself (and my GPA) in the foot after every class).

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