I was an indifferent student.
It’s true. I shouldn’t admit this, because now some of my own college students are subscribed to this blog, but I was woefully immature as a college freshman.
I grumbled at assigned readings, as if they were a punishment rather than a necessary part of a course. In-class exercises were designed to make my life miserable. Working in groups was something the professor made us do because he or she was lazy and did not want to lecture. Projects? Mid-terms? Final exams? Early morning classes? All of these things were like Biblical plagues to me.
While my more academically-minded friends preferred tests with essay questions because they’d be able to BS their ways out of an answer they did not know, I preferred multiple choice, because I could pick the likely answer and be out of the test room quickly. I had a 1 in 4 chance of being right, which I figured were pretty good odds. You almost don’t even need to study for multiple choice. I liked True and False questions even better.
Admittedly, I test well. And I’m also a decent aural learner, so I was able to pick up information from in-class lectures. I must have been a frustrating student though, because although it was my education, I was never proactive about it. At least not as an undergrad.
What gets me now is my attitude toward my professors and the reading they assigned me. While I was freaking out because I had to read a novel in a week (no big task for me when it was a novel I wanted to read) or furiously powering through an all nighter to write the paper that would serve as my final exam, I would picture my professor relaxing at home, calmly watching television or sleeping peacefully while I wrestled with my work.
Now I know that few – if any – of my professors were relaxing while I did my readings.
I have class tonight. I just re-read my readings for the third time, completed several pages of notes and an outline, and did a lot of supplemental research and prepped the class website for this evening’s class.
It might be said that I’m still cramming for class, but the difference this time, is that I did all my work back in November. Now I’m doing it again, but I only teach two classes. What must my professors at college, who taught at least four sections apiece, have been doing with their time before every class? And they made the lectures look effortless. They knew their readings backward and forward.
So if anyone who taught me at Trinity College between 1996-2000 – whether you were a full professor, grad student, or (like me) adjunct – is reading this post, please know that Ann J. O’Connell, Class of 2000, is sorry she took you for granted.