‘Twas the Night Before College

Dedicated to my fellow victims of pre-college jitters.

‘Twas the night before college, when all through my head
My thoughts formed a clutter of worry and dread.
The fears of what lay ahead of me were deep,
Preventing my mind from getting some sleep.

I sprang from my bed in my jittery distress.
“If I don’t sleep right now, I’ll wake up a hot mess.”
But these questions wouldn’t stop agitating my mind,
Bombarding me from the front and from the behind.

Will there be people I meet, who will like me for me?
Or will I have to compete in a social Grand Prix?
I’ll oil my engine and shine up my hood.
Heck, who am I kidding? I’m a loner for good.

Is everything ready, my supplies all set?
Is there anything that I happened to forget?
What if I’m late or I can’t find my class?
And what if I make myself look like an ass?

“Stop being so glum,” I said under my breath,
“You’ll choke in your stress and worry to death.”
So I tried to imagine the best case scenario,
But only succeeded in thoughts “au contrario”:

“You loser! You failure! You stupid, dumb idjit!
You’re foolish! You’re hopeless, you slow-minded nitwit!
Don’t open your mouth for fear you might spread,
Your numbskull ideas and your IQ of bread!”

Well, that didn’t help. Good Lord, was I sweating?
Who knew that college could be so upsetting?
And I’d yet to start. It was still Sunday evening.
I had a few hours left before I’d be leaving.

No sugarplum visions would waltz in my head.
I’d be screaming of nightmares if I ever got to bed.
It was like Christmas eve, except without all the joys.
And without the fresh cookies and waiting for toys.

It was more like death row and I’d committed one crime:
Failed college in a day – a Guinness record of time.
I’d eaten my meal that I’d blandly requested,
A plate full of nerves, which I sourly ingested.

At that moment I looked at the mirror beside me,
And I jolted upright as I saw my own zombie.
My eyes – how they drooped. My dimples – how bleak!
My cheeks were like ashtrays. My nose sprang a leak.

This couldn’t be healthy. I mean, what the heck?
It was like Halloween from my scalp to my neck.
I had class in the morning! I needed some sleep!
I did everything from poetry to counting some sheep.

So I went back to bed and I pulled closed my eyes
And changed up my strategy by thinking of lies
Of good things happening on my first day of classes,
Instead of me drowning in my mind of molasses.

At first, it was tough because of the jitters.
It was worse than Starbuck’s apple pie fritters*.
But after a while, my mind settled down,
And giving a snort, I was knocked outta’ town.

Off to the land of “La La’s” I went,
Where no drop of fun was left unspent.
As soon as I reached my own slice of heaven –
“Holy crap! It’s noon! Class started at eleven!”

* I don’t think Starbuck’s apple pie fritters are bad. I just needed something to rhyme with “jitters,” so don’t sue me.

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September 12: The Day After

This isn’t college-related. It’s not humorous. It’s not pockmarked with idiotic pictures. This is about September 12, the day after September 11.

September 12, 2011 is the tenth anniversary plus a day since the 9/11 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people and the shaking of a nation. It is likely that you watched the ceremony at Ground Zero. It is likely that you watched the President, former President, and their wives standing over the memorial. Perhaps you looked through the galleries of memorial photos, saw the faces of anguish and loss, felt the pangs of sympathy and disbelief. Perhaps you revisited the haunting images of smoke, fire and ash, recalling “where were you” when the event occurred. Do you still have the strings of Yo-Yo Ma’s rendition of “Sarabande” hovering between your ears? I do. In the United States, it was nearly impossible not to remember that singular date from ten years ago.

You may think this article is a day late. September 11 is already over. People have already paid their respects with flowers and prayers and moments of silence on the actual anniversary of the tragedy. I post this on September 12, the day after, not out of laziness, procrastination or forgetfulness. I post this on September 12, the day after, to say that life continues. Buildings, lives, and national security fell on September 11, 2001, but we are still here. As a nation, we have suffered acute emotional turmoil, but we are still here.

We have suffered, but here we stand. “E Pluribus Unum”: Out of many, one. 50 states and over 300,000,000 people strong – we are one nation, a column of strength, passion and resilience. We stand upright: bruised black and violet, sore in our joints, and callused over our palms. Our feet have carried us through Hell and back, yet they’re still aching for more. That is us as a nation – very flawed, but hopeful and perseverant. Although we have been hit hard, we are many and we are strong. Never forget. Never forget the past, but do not let it anchor you in agony and defeat.

Remember 9/11. Remember 9/12 and remember all the days after.

“Rate My Professors” is Completely Unbiased (My Arse)

Preparing for college means a lot of things. You might be living on your own for the first time, so you stock up on the Ramen, microwave ovens and flimsy IKEA furniture. You have to buy textbooks, which burns a fat hole in your already starving wallet while bookstores laugh at your student poverty. You register for classes, get your photo ID, contact your hopefully sane and not freaky roommate, etc. It’s a lot to do!

And then, when you get your schedule, you scan down the list of classes and think “Wow, freshman year is going to be great. My class is going to be super easy and my teacher is going to love me!”

What? Who am I kidding? You’re probably thinking “Holy shiitake mushrooms, how am I going to handle this schedule?! And…”

And then you look at the professor’s name beside the class name…

“… What the heck is my professor like?”

Cue the chorusing angels and ethereal light beaming down on your head through fluffy parting clouds. Here is where the beauty of the Internet comes in.

RateMyProfessors Logo

If you haven’t heard, there is a website called Rate My Professors, where students – this should be pretty obvious – rate their professors. It’s a pretty popular site and I just had to check it out. It’s so popular, a lot of people schedule/change their classes based on the site’s reviews. Plus, there’s even an app for it. So I couldn’t resist. In general, I try to be an open-minded person, who takes hearsay with a grain – more like a vat – of salt. To really understand something, you have to experience it yourself, yes? This is my philosophy.

However, because I have Antzin-Pants syndrome, which I touched on in this article, I couldn’t help checking out my professors to see what others have said about them.

Boy, did this make me laugh and cry at the same time. 

What I have gathered from this site is that most of the people who leave reviews either really love the professor or really hate the professor, so you don’t get a whole lot of unbiased, “average” ratings. But then again, how am I supposed to know they’re unbiased? Sometimes, it’s easy to spot the begrudged and the smitten:

Excerpts taken from review of statistics professor:

VERY POOR TEACHER, DOES NOT EXPLAIN ANYTHING, BORING LECTURES, TOO MUCH HOMEWORK.

Yeah, he’s hard. Granted this is college. It should be a challenge. The class will go fine is [sic] you pay attention and study. Tutoring will also help. Just ask questions and make him go slow. This man lives for stat’s.

Excerpts taken from review of computer science teacher:

I thought Karla was an extremely boring teacher. Two hours of her was just too much for me.

She is energetic, hot, and ambitious. She has the whole class on the edge of their seat waiting to learn more…too bad she’s taken…

No professor is “one size fits all.” You have people who will go into an ALL CAPS RAGE about a professor and then you have people who will confess a somewhat inappropriate amount of affection for a professor… Seriously, did that review really call the professor “hot?” See, this is the part that makes me laugh.

ROFLMAO

The part that makes me cry (aside from laughing so hard), is the person in my head saying, “But what if it’s all true?” Extremely opinionated reviews are easy to ignore if they’re scattered, but when there is a pattern of reviews indicating a general consensus, you can’t help but wonder if the masses are right. The reviews for the statistics teacher are largely negative. The nicest review was that second one above. The reviews for the computer science teacher are largely – overwhelmingly – positive. There are only a couple of negative reviews and those reviews aren’t even that harsh.

There are keywords in the reviews of my third professor: “brilliant,” “pretentious,” “frighteningly brilliant”, “snob,” “genuinely interested.” I kid you not, almost every review for this professor has one of those words in them. Can 10 pages of reviews be wrong? Let the poster for a mediocre movie do the talking:

Ryan Reynolds is okay

Ok, this was a stupid picture insert.

People fear the unknown. That’s part of human nature. Maybe you’re one of those “gonads of steel” people who laugh in the face of danger. Even then, the unknown still reaches into your core and pokes your huevos ever so subtly, telling you “hey, you have no idea what you’re getting into. It could be nasty.”

So maybe the reviews are right: my stats professor is an unorganized burn-out; my computer science professor is a hilarious and quirky hotty; and my honors professor is a pretentious scum bag, who may or may not be after students’ interest.

Well, you know how I’m going to find out if these are true? I’m just going to go to class. Rule in life: Judge everything for yourself.

Have you used Rate My Professors? How do you feel after reading your professors’ reviews? For non-Freshman: How accurate were the reviews for your professors?