High school was pretty academically easy for me and for most of the people I have talked to who now go to college. There was hardly ever any need for things like studying or homework. Public high school classes are generally geared toward the lowest common denominator, so that the majority of students taking the class will pass and the school’s numbers will look good to the state. It all keeps the funds flowing in.
This makes for quite a shock when you start taking classes at a major university. Suddenly, you have to budget all kinds of time to study for quizzes and cram for finals. You also have to make time for work because no matter how much money you get from scholarships or your parents or wherever your funding is coming from, you will always
spend more than you have got.
And you need to find time to party and keep your morale up or your sanity will never last through till graduation day.
In short, you need to develop time management skills. I am now starting my third year of college and, sadly, I have never managed to do this. You will still inevitably find me frantically typing up a term paper hours before it is due, or studying for a midterm in the first five minutes of class before the teacher starts passing the tests out. And there are many, many people, like me, who are chronic procrastinators and can not lift a pencil or move a mouse to do any kind of useful work until a deadline is breathing down their neck. It’s a sickness, dammit, and I believe it deserves recognition as a full-fledged learning disability, with a corresponding level of lenience from teachers in the grading of our work. Some government aid to ease the pain would be nice too.
Another college survival skill that many people never really develop is managing their sleep schedule so they can actually make it to class on time. Or, what the hell, make it to class at all. Skipping class in high school was no big deal; you just had to be careful not to get caught and end up in detention. Unless it was the day of a test, there was rarely any danger of missing anything crucial. College, again, is a whole different ballgame. A few froo-froo liberal arts classes may grade on participation, but in most classes no one really cares if you show up or not. However, if you don’t, you are still going to get screwed. Substitutes and movie days become a thing of the past, as teachers now present their curriculum under the assumption that students will be there to witness all of it.
This makes staying up all night on weeknights somewhat impractical. But it’s Portland! There is so much fun crap you could be doing at night. It does not even matter if you are not 21 yet. If you live on campus, there are whole dorms full of fellow insomniacs partaking in TV shows, PlayStation games, various digestible substances with varying degrees of legality, and spirited games of “Soggy Freshman.” Who wants to go to bed?
People who want to pass their classes, I guess. Due to my vampirish habits, my G.P.A. has fluctuated like the size of Oprah’s ass over the last three years. A classic example was the first term of my freshman year, when I got alcohol poisoning and ended up puking for 24 hours straight the night before finals. Or just this weekend, when I got home from my Saturday festivities at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday with 0.0 hours of sleep under my belt and a big Spanish quiz coming up on Monday. To the wet-behind-the-ears freshman currently struggling to keep up with his/her studies, I can offer this inspiring message: Don’t worry; it can get a lot worse.
OK, kids. This is supposed to be the time of your life and all, but you do want to graduate.
So until Class-C Laziness gets disease-of-the-week status, we are just going to have to pull ourselves together and get our work done. By the way, I am typing this approximately half an hour before the deadline for publication. Do as I say, not as I do.