September 17, 2011

O-Issue 2011: Classes

Last year I was visiting a friend at Brown University and staying in one of the dorms. Standing in the hall, I casually rested my hand atop a fire extinguisher case only to find—much to my surprise—an Adderall. This exact same thing happened about an hour later. The walls were literally lined with Adderall. This made me think: If the students in Providence need stimulants to survive their classes, what about us South Siders? If the students at Brown need to do lines off their Moleskines in order to make it through Drum Circles 201, everybody at the U of C must do an eight ball before breakfast and make Keith Richards look like an amateur just to get through the Core! Right?

Wrong. Welcome to “Surviving Classes at the U of C 10100.” Please leave your bennies and other amphetamines at the door—you probably won’t end up needing them.

The work load at the U of C is notoriously daunting. It is important to admit it—there is a lot of work, so much that sometimes you want to dig a little igloo in the snow on your way to the library and go to sleep, not caring whether or not you wake up. There’s no way to get around that 300-page reading assignment or that 12-page paper, but here are a few alms of friendly advice:

Study Alone. Yes, it can sometimes be helpful to go to the library with a friend so that you can motivate each other to get your work done. But this rarely happens. More often than not you will hear your friends complaining about how their four hour night at Harper produced only twenty pages of reading, and then see the record of how they actually spent the night with witty Facebook posts to their friends across the table. Don’t make that mistake.

Go to office hours. GO TO OFFICE HOURS! U of C professors are interesting people. Skip the shake at C-Shop (come on, it’s not that good anyway) and GO TO OFFICE HOURS!

Don’t be afraid to take three classes. Practice this speech: “I’m not a slacker; I just see other opportunities, outside the classroom, where I can learn things and enrich myself.”

Take electives. The Core isn’t going anywhere. Having to take classes you don’t really get to choose can be a real downer and seriously curtail your productivity, so save a Core class for later and take an interesting elective. It will be good for your soul and you won’t feel so bad about having to take Hum.

Shop around. Pink slip period can be exciting (yes, exciting). Even if you think you’re happy with your schedule, sit in on a few extra classes your first couple of weeks.