In honor of back-to-school month, I'd like to share a list I created for my cousin Luke, who is beginning his freshman year at the University of Colorado. Nine years of language teaching at the college level have informed my thoughts on this subject! Feel free to share your own suggestions with Luke and all the others headed off in pursuit of higher education.
10. Plagiarize a writing assignment either by not citing your sources, by purchasing or copying a paper by someone else, or by swiping something from the Internet. Next, say with big sad eyes and an injured tone of voice, "Of course I wrote this myself! I would never, never, never copy someone else's work," or "What do you mean, 'cite your sources'? No one ever told me to do that before. No, not my college composition instructor. No, no, I never had to do that in high school. Why? Is it important?"
9. Assume that good attendance, decent test scores, and completing most of the homework mostly on time is all is takes to get an A or a B. (The presence of a warm body with eyes open holding a pencil is not sufficient.)
8. Read the campus newspaper. During class.
7. Answer your cell phone when it rings. During class. (Bonus: Say "not much--how 'bout you?")
6. Ask for extra credit; also, get offended when you find out that your lowest test score will not be dropped. (Bonus: Say, "But we got to do that in high school!")
5. Get in touch with your professor thusly: Use an email address that doesn't include your real name, begin your message without a greeting, ask about the assignment without specifying which class it's for, don't say "please" or "thank you," don't bother with capital letters or punctuation, and don't sign your name. (Bonus: Try to make your email address sound sexy. I have actually received messages from students calling themselves "mesohott18" and "unequaledphantasy." True story.)
4. Present a note from the hospital written in pencil on an index card to excuse your absence. (Bonus: Don't bother to use the name of an actual doctor from that hospital--just make up a name.) (This is also a true story.)
3. Eat one or more of the following: (a) a crunchy food (b) a pungent food (c) something delicious and chocolatey, especially if it's around lunchtime and your prof teaches three classes back to back from 11:00 to 2:00 and has to skip lunch those days. (Bonus: Eat tuna noodle casserole topped with potato chips from the cafeteria; époisses, reblochon, or other stinky cheese; or marijuana brownies.)
2. After you have been absent, ask your prof, "Did I miss anything important?"
1. Call your prof at home to ask him for an extension on a paper due the following day because it's your birthday and your friends are throwing you a surprise party. (Also true--but alas, this time I was the perpetrator!)