Once upon earlier this year, I wrote a list article as a pitch to a certain, unnamed website. The article received great praise from the site’s editors, and they said they were more than happy to publish it and take me on as a writer. Then, I NEVER HEARD FROM THEM AGAIN. I was left with a lot of questions and a homeless list article about back-to-school. So, in the spirit of school starting back tomorrow, I would like to present it to you.
New Semester BINGO or 10 Things to Look for When Going Back to School
It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a senior, a nursing student or a liberal arts major, an honors society president or one grade point from academic probation, there is something about the first day of classes that brings us all together. It levels the playing field, if only just for that one day. It’s also a universally known fact that the first day of classes is both and easiest and most boring day of the semester, so to make it a little more interesting, here are some things to look out for on your first day back.
1. That kid who feels the need to let you know how smart he is.
We all know this guy. He might not be sitting on the front row, but he’s up there, and if the teacher even kind of asks a question, his hand has shot into the air faster than the rest of us can space out and stop listening. And yeah, he might be answering the teacher’s question on Greek Literature in some sort of oral, fifteen-sentence-minimum, essay format while spewing words like ‘axiomatic’ and ‘moribund’, but what he is really saying is, ‘Hi, I’m Robert, and I am, like, SO smart.”
During his five minute monologue, I suggest you look around the room a little. See all those other people making eye contact with each other and exchanging, how Robert would say, “bedeviled” grins? Those are going to be your new best friends. Leave it to Robert to take one for the team to bring the whole class together… against himself.
2. The girl wearing a dress, full makeup, and high heels in your 8am class.
She walks into class and suddenly every guy in the room has reached a higher level of alertness than their morning coffee could ever supply. Sure, she looks amazing, but I suggest you take a good look now, because this girl won’t be around for very long. She might be back for the next class, but after that, I am willing to bet that you will never see her again. Not because she is going to drop the class, but because, like many well-dressed college girls before her, by the second week, she will have given up and conformed to the makeup-less, pajama pants and hoodied ways of everyone else, and you won’t see her bright and sparkling face again until graduation day.
3. The kid unapologetically introducing himself to the professor right after class.
Ok, I know just as well as the next college student that it is vital to have your professors know who you are, but really? The first day? Don’t be so obvious. Do you seriously want your teacher’s first impression of you to be, “Um, hey, I’m Ryan.”? No, Ryan. You do not. Here’s a bit of advice. Wait a week. Have a valid question. Or, better yet, bring homemade peanut butter muffins. That’s how it’s done.
But I dare you. Pay attention to the front of the classroom as you pack up your bag after class. I can almost guarantee that you will see one of your chump classmates moseying up to the teacher the second the hour is over in every class you endure. Just wait.
4. The self-entitled student with a laptop.
This guy is the literal worst. We all have those professors who, even though we are living in the age of technology, are still uncomfortable with students having laptops, and they will tell us that on day one. And there is always that ONE guy who just cannot deal. He will raise his hand and retort some bullshit about how he needs to use his laptop to take notes, and you can see in his eyes that, if denied, he is willing to render the Student Rights Act of 2015. Usually the teacher will give in and just ask that he sit near the edge of the classroom, and while I will admit that this guy is most likely a raging asshat, I would suggest that you sit a row behind him so you can watch him browse Reddit during lectures.
5. Lost Freshmen
This is like the freebie space in the middle of the BINGO board. Yeah, freshmen are always horribly lost, and it’s amazing how easy it is to tell when it is an authentic freshman and not just a transient student. Their faces are always red, their eyes are bugging out, and for some reason, they are always a foot shorter and 100 pounds lighter than everyone else.
I would suggest that you, you know, be a good person and help them. However, before you take one of the new kids under your wing for the day, make sure you are ready for the responsibility. There’s a large chance you will be asked to buy them alcohol for the next two years until they become legal.
6. That one guy who was “accepted” into “Yale” but “turned it down.”
I cannot even tell you how many times I have almost blinded myself, rolling my eyes at this guy. He, while very similar to the student from example number 1, takes a different route in letting you know how unbelievably smart he is. He sits next to you before class and tells you about how he got all of these scholarships to all these Ivey League schools, and you sit there wondering, “If you were smart enough to get a full ride to Yale, then why were you dumb enough to give it up for Arkansas State?”
7. The guy in sweats sitting in the back of class already completely asleep.
Now, this guy is going places. Maybe not good, well-paying places, but places nonetheless. He’s obviously been around the block a few times, and maybe even taken this exact class a few times, and for that, I think he deserves our respect, but maybe not an invitation to join our group project.
8. The line at the bookstore that seems to contain more people than there are students enrolled at the university.
As if there was something more pleasant that spending 500 dollars on 100 pounds of books that you will either dislike or not read all together, it’s getting to hold them for three hours while standing in a line that is wrapped around the building. Do not allow yourself to be sucked into this trap. Those textbooks will still be there next week after everyone else has already bought theirs. Or, better yet, the No-Book-Challenge is always an option. Especially at community college. You don’t need those books, I promise.
9. The teacher hell-bent on telling you how cool Organic Chemistry is.
This teacher, like most, thinks that his class is the greatest, and that we should all share his passion for the chemical composition of potatoes. He’s going to show Youtube videos that are funny and engaging, make jokes only half of the class will pretend to laugh at, and use enough voice inflection to make you wonder if he somehow managed to steal all of the expression from your monotone history teacher from last semester. Sure, his class seems like a riot now, and you’re hoping that maybe he will even have his own Magic School Bus parked out front, but, odds are, just like 8am makeup girl, this guy’s enthusiasm is not going to last. Whether it dwindles by week two of classes for his 17th year of teaching apathetic gen-ed students is still up in the air, but like most things in college, it can only remain exciting for so long.
10. The teacher having a mid-life crisis right before your eyes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is this guy. He has sixteen degrees from eight top universities, he has been to all seven continents at least twice, he’s written books, won awards, and now, at the ripe old age of 45, he finds himself standing in front of a class of emotionless twenty-somethings who just need this class to graduate. While this guy may not strike you as the happiest, most upbeat of professors, you will find that he may be the most easily distracted. As in, once you have finally heard enough about the political situation in Nepal, or whatever, just remember that it is always an option to raise your hand and say something like, “Hey, can you tell us the story about that time you taught math or starving children in Cambodia?” and he will be off on a nostalgic tangent for the rest of the class period. You’re welcome.
There’s a lot to look out for on the first day back to class, and yeah, it can get a little repetitive sometimes, but just remember, you only get to enjoy these the wonderful classmates and teachers for sixteen weeks, and then, just when you start to appreciate them, you get to start all over with new set. So remember to enjoy your time in college, because compared to this “real world” thing everyone keeps talking about, it might not be so bad.