September 1984

Columnist's advice for a successful year
by Tim

   Once again the familiar sights and sounds have returned to the halls of South. People run desperately to their classes as if it were the only place in Illinois selling Lotto tickets. Students clamor for homework like Wrigley Field bleacher bums yelling for beer. Everyone awaits upcoming assignments and term papers in the same manner that sports fans await the battle for the World Wrestling Federation belt. But wait. It does not take a genius to see that if conditions are present here. Even the dullest observer realizes that most students are not infected with education fever.
   Yet we are dedicated in almost everything else we do. We are usually zealous in our work and especially our play. But why are we not lusting after knowledge in the classroom? The answer is simple. We do not like school. (This profound realization was revealed to me by a student-oracle who shall remain unknown.)
    However harsh the statement is, it is a reality. And why it is a reality is a combination of several factors.
   First, the pressures of making the grades quickly lead us to enlightenment or premature insanity. Whether driven by our teachers, parents, friends, or ourselves, we come to believe that all that matters is the all-powerful grade point average. So we go to school to reach those expectations. But if and when we do not meet those expectations, we fall into the "who-cares-I'll-blow-it-off" attitude. Unfortunately, that is not what school should accomplish. Contrary to popular belief, school is to inform, teach, direct, and help; not determine and rate the quality of a person's intelligence. Yet it seems that obtaining the higher grade is more important than the learning itself.
   Also, homework is a burden. You've got the party to go to or the movie to see and you've been given at least three hours of homework. You know that one is more desirable than the other, so you tell yourself you can do the English theme in homeroom. So you have a good time and get a C- on the paper. Seldom do we rank studying above entertainment and fun.
   Although there is not a sure-cure for this disease, there is a way of combating it. For those who feel that school demands too much (hours of study) and returns too little (a C instead of a B), there is one answer. Forget about the grade and concentrate on doing your best. If you try 100 percent, you will find that your grade will climb quicker than if you worry about it. In addition, it is possible that you will think school is sometimes enjoyable because of the rewards of effort. (Really, there are some.) Some people are even more pleased with a B in a class they worked hard in than with an A in a class they merely went to.
   Giving a little more effort includes skipping the movie or party the day before the test. I can guarantee that it will not be the last party in town, but I can not guarantee that the same test will be given again if you bomb it. Therefore, regard the academic side of school at a level equal to or above the social side of school. The latter position will usually inflate your G.P.A. [grade point average].
   Remember, these hints are only for those of us who do not see school as an extension of summer vacation. So if you want to make the year a bit more bearable while raising your grades, try the ideas for a while. If you do not find things better, then do whatever you want. The main thing in school is to be happy with yourself. And if you are not happy with giving your best in school, I encourage you to blow it off.