MarineCorps is a frequent commenter on this site. He’s taking the initiative to go to school at night to get his undergraduate degree. Here’s the encouraging email I sent to him on the eve of his first engineering final:

Good luck on your first engineering final tonight.

I want you to think about how Arnold would approach this final. He would walk in calmly and smile while everyone frantically crammed. When someone asks why he wasn’t cramming he would reply that cramming is for losers and that real men drank beer to prepare for study. And besides, he would say, his average was already so high that the final was merely a formality to getting an A. Arnold might then inquire about how high his classmates thought their final scores needed to be to pass. When confronted by their blank stares, he might mention that there are winners and there are losers. Some people always have to end up on the bottom of the bell curve.

Offer to ‘help’ those poor cases around you that are still cramming.

Remember to look to your left, look to your right and tell those people you see there that you heard only 33% of the class will pass the final and thus the class. Then tell them you wish them your best in pursuit of a career in either the food service or housecleaning industries. Tell them that you will happily hire them to make bunny shapes out of the lawn of your future mansion. Remind them that, if needed, they can borrow some of the cardboard boxes you’ll have when you’re done ‘movin’ on up to the
East side.’

Remember to thank your classmates in advance for their poor scores as it will make you look so much better in the end.

Some professors tell you to raise your hand if you have questions. This is an excellent time to seed disinformation and confusion through out the class. It is especially enjoyable to ask loudly about a question that lies at the end of the exam approximately 5 minutes in. Say, #26 when everyone else is on #2. Extra points for creativity “Should I be accounting for wind resistance and curvature of the earth here?” on a history exam.

When you are done with the test having completed it twice to ensure the questions were fully, completely, and accurately answered you may approach the teacher to hand in the exam. When he asks if you are done say ‘not yet.’ Then proceed to ask him, loudly, about the best drinking establishments closest to campus. When he reacts in a confused state you may want to reply on the order of “I thought you might like to buy me a drink for handing you this answer key. It’s $2 draft night so you’re getting off easy.”

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