16.9.07

BACK TO COLLEGE: 2. The Phantom Professor offers her 17 Secrets for College Success, which apparently was offered to Southwest Airlines passengers at one time.

Secret 2 is of particular value to new students. At many of the larger universities, most of the people you'll meet will probably not have heard of your high school. That's a feature, not a bug.
The intensely cliquish culture of high school hallways is largely irrelevant on a university campus populated by students and faculty from diverse backgrounds and with wildly eclectic interests. Don’t self-segregate into the same small pod of likeminded types you hung with back home. Branch out. Be friendly. Be interested in your courses, fellow students, instructors, your campus, your new neighborhood. Being interested leads to being interesting.
I'd add to that: evaluate the Greek system carefully, as the risk of being drawn back into such a pod is great.

Secret 5 implies an economy of scope: prepare to face classes with almost the care you'd devote to facing the chance of a hook-up. Really.
Clean clothes, clean hair, clean nails, clean feet. Sure, it's still flip-flop season now, but nobody likes looking at dirty hooves. Never wear anything in public that could be confused with sleepwear. Remove caps, hats, visors and sunglasses in the classroom. Cover your tramp-stamp tattoos and keep cleavage to a minimum. Hike up your low-riders.
If memory serves, the Phantom is a theater critic with occasional adjuncting gigs, but all but the most hard-core lefties on campus are at least moderately bourgeois in their style.

Secret 7 is the logic behind Rule 33 of Charlie Sykes's 50 Rules.
To avoid getting lost in the crowd, sit up front and ask good questions so the professors will know you by name and face. (Don't laugh at the nerds in the first row. In four years, you'll hear their names followed by the phrase "...got an offer for how much?") Try to get acquainted with at least two classmates in every course. You never know when you’ll need their help. Trade contact info with a couple of students who look reliable. You can find yourself a study-partner or note-sharer that way. And when the day comes that you really do have the flu and can't get out of bed, you'll have a buddy who'll feed you the info you missed—a much better move than moseying up to the prof and asking, “Did I miss anything important?”
That last being a good way to risk self-identifying as Not With The Program. Assume that there's something important each day, possibly each minute. Assume that it's all examinable. (It is.)

The short form of Secret 9 is READ AND UNDERSTAND.
[Course outlines] can be many pages long, spelling out every requirement of the course. Typically they include an assignment and test schedule, reading list, absence and grading policies, and specifics about how professors prefer papers to be handed in (some will let you submit by email, others forbid it). If the [course outline] says “No eating, drinking or knuckle-cracking in class,” take it seriously. Profs can be very finicky about classroom behavior. And they do remember who breaks their rules.
And individuals who demonstrate that they have not taken the time to read the rules are self-identifying as Not With The Program.

Go read the rest.

An aside: some year, I will persuade the rest of higher education to recall that the syllabus is the paragraph or two in the college catalog that identifies the principal focus of the course. It's probably a bit much to ask that the academy refer to the course outline as the working timetable, which is the way I view it.

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