It’s about this time of year that the web gets flooded with a bunch of inspirational, “spread your wings” ads that play off the mommy & child separation anxiety rooted in “back to school” marketing. That’s why last year, I went against the grain and posted rather disparagingly on why you should avoid being an engineer.
Perhaps I went too far the other way.
1. Make Your Dorm Your Refuge. Just like I come home from work, you need to come home from school; even if it means staying in the library till 10pm doing homework every night. Not only will it give you a place to escape — you will study better outside your room since computers, TV, roommates only serve to distract.
2. Do Laundry Every Saturday Morning. You’ll feel better in clean clothes, plus community wash is always empty, as everyone’s recovering from the wild night before.
3. Know Your Professors. I’ve had my grades bumped up twice because I knew the prof and they knew me and were willing to cut me a break. As an undergrad, you may get saddled with a “research professor” who is only there to write papers and get tenure and ignores their students. If that happens, buddy up to their TA for extra help when you need it.
4. Never Slam a Door so Hard You Can’t Walk Back Through It. Wise advice my father told me. Your school, no matter how large it may seem now, is going to get very small over the next few years and what you say and who you say it to can come back to haunt you.
5. Whiteboards are Your Best Friend. They are easier to work problems on and stuff just makes more sense when you write it all out. Buy some white board markers cause the ones that you will find will always suck. Call it Craig’s Law of Sucky Markers.
6. Find the Smart Kid and Make them Your Friend. Simply put: hang out with smart kids and do well. Hang out with dumb kids and do poorly. When/if you happen to be the smart kid, still bring others into your circle. You will need them later.
7. Go to class and do all your homework every day. This is the single best thing you can do to pass.
I’m going to stick with the harsh Thou Shall Not Party For Thou Art A Engineering Student tone I had last year because it’s true. Let the art students find themselves, and the business kids have keggers and join frats. You still need to blow off steam, but never ever do anything that might allow you to lose your mental edge. (Turns out there’s plenty of time to party after college too, and you have more money to buy better stuff anyway)