The beginning of the new fall semester brings in a new class of freshmen. They still have something that many of us do not have: HOPE, in both the literal and scholarship sense. These kids have aspirations, dreams and majors they will likely change after they see their first calculus test grade.
At a school like ours, success is a completely relative thing that will inevitably change as one gets a better grasp of the Institute. While success now may mean a 4.0 while coasting and doing no work to most of you, it will eventually become not joining the Square Root club. Harder said than done.
To start off, don’t cheat. I will not go into the academic and moral implications of cheating because there are a couple of simple reasons why you should not do it.
You may think that copying off a neighbor is a good idea. This is wrong. More than likely, the kid next to you is as lost, if not more lost, than you. He will rush through the test with an air of confidence that in turn gives you reason to think he can be copied off of.
This is rarely the case. Oftentimes these students speed through because they have no idea what is going on and feel as though writing something down will give them partial credit. It might, but it is difficult to give partial credit to something completely inane, or to multiple choice answers.
Also, writing things on objects that you bring into a test will make you feel stupid. You are not the first to think that you can write answers on the inner lining of your Coke bottle label and just sip your way to an A. Writing notes on the front of your hat will make you cross-eyed and feel dumb for ruining a perfectly good hat.
Teachers will rarely give exams that require rote memorization of formulas and if necessary, may allow you to have a cheat sheet. But if you cannot remember the formula of an integral, you are officially screwed for four (or five) years.
Arguing with the professor is a futile pursuit. In a class of 200, the professor will not only not know your name, but will not want to know your name. This is not like high school, where you could joke around with a teacher and convince her that your B+ should be an A- based on hard work.
This is Tech, where the same professor is likely teaching the same section of the same class semester after semester. Sucking up to her will not score you any points because you will just be that guy looking at his hat during tests, not a name. It is difficult to award points for that kind of thing.
Declaring that “I won’t even need this in the real world!” will not change the fact that you have to take a class. My personal favorite is in English, when students snicker the first day and argue that the class should not be a prerequisite for graduating, because “I came to Tech so I would not have to read any more books or write anything.”
This is a fair and decent reason to come to Tech if you want to go through life half illiterate. Almost every major requires classes that have extensive writing assignments. Even the engineering majors will have to take at least a couple of classes where they will have to write a report, meaning that a mastery of the English language will help you graduate.
Lastly, listening to teachers will often provide you insight and knowledge. These teachers are hired for good reasons. Kids often show up to class and sleep, as though their semi-conscious presence is sufficient for the teacher to know that this student has really put in the time for this class.
Sometimes they break out the laptop and redo their fantasy football roster while chatting with others in the class about what kind of Papa John’s pizza to order that night, all the while thinking the teacher sees a hard-working student.
If you are not going to listen in class, it is often better to just skip it and do this in the comfort of your dorm room. If you are a freshman and are reading this editorial during your noon lecture, you are already off to a bad start.
Having a good time and being successful at Tech are not mutually exclusive. Tech requires a lot of change, but arguably the most important thing you need is to be able to adapt to the school and not try and cheat it. Assuming you are better than the system will likely lead to failure. If you can avoid doing all of these things, you may just be able to keep the scholarship that all those lottery tickets fund. Oh, and maybe actual hope.