The Career Student: 7 Easy Steps

STAY IN SCHOOL, KIDS. The hours are good, the coeds are hot, your summers are free, and it creates the illusion that you’re bettering yourself. And as long as you’re “working towards a degree,” your parents, your student loan officer, and your peers will stay off your back re: the life plan. The challenge is to still get good grades and the occasional degree with the least effort possible, freeing up your time to sleep around, drink excessively, or both. At the same time. Because, when reduced to its core, university is about getting drunk, getting laid, and avoiding responsibility.

Ryan Reynolds shows us how in Van Wilder (2002) .


1 Go to Class
The most difficult step. Lots of classes start before noon, and let’s face it, they get dull. But one, if your prof knows you exist, you’re more likely to get a good grade. Two, chances are good you’ll learn through osmosis (freshmen, look up ‘osmosis’). Three, that’s how you meet people to get it on with. You don’t have to take notes, pay attention, or do anything strenuous. Just show up. Bring your laptop and Facebook stalk, watch midget porn, or email your parents for money. The only reason to skip a class is if you’ve woken up with a coed, and there’s an opportunity for morning sex.

2 Never Read a Book
I have four-and-a-half degrees from six moderately reputable universities, and I haven’t read a book since 1992. And that was the epic Sweet Valley High number 86, Jessica Against Bruce. My cumulative GPA? 3.96. Books are expensive, they’re full of words, and quite often you’re only really required to read about 20 percent of them. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in a simple Google search, it’s not worth knowing. An added bonus: The student who is always in class but never has any books with them creates an aura of aloof disengagement, which is like natural alkyl nitrites (freshmen, look up ‘alkyl nitrites’) for undergraduates.

3 All Essays are About Gender, Class, or Sexuality
Whether you’re an English, Political Science, Art History, Biology, or Anthropology student, it doesn’t matter. All of your essays should be on these three topics and these three topics only. Business majors, I can’t help you. You’re already on a runaway train to being an asshole, and these guidelines are for people with souls. I know you’re wondering, “Dr. Spry, how do I write one of these essays without purchasing or reading a book?” Not a problem. Follow these steps:

a) Access your school’s online article database. Search for the subject of your essay plus one of the above three topics.
b) Choose three short articles and scan them quickly for relevant quotations. These will be the basis of your essay.
c) Use the three quotations to build an argument paragraph for each. Warning: Some thinking may be required here. But don’t worry, we’ll be done soon and I’ll buy you a drink.
d) Once your three argument paragraphs are complete, write introductory and concluding paragraphs that preview and then summarize your three argument paragraphs. Your introduction should be very strongly written and include a thesis statement (freshmen, look up ‘thesis statement’). Look, the last thing your professor wants to do is read your thoughts. As a student, you are by far the least interesting thing in their lives. They want to go to the bar and hit on undergrads too, so why waste everyone’s time. A well-written introduction will encourage the prof to stop reading, stamp that essay with an A, and head to the pub. I once wrote the third argument paragraph for an Environmental Studies class made up entirely of Hold Steady lyrics. A+.

4 Drink with Your Prof
Listen, blackmail is an ugly and actionable word. But no one ever got a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology without a little extortion. Professors are people, too, and like everyone else in a post-secondary environment they just want to drink beer and flirt with coeds. So, find out where your prof drinks, more than likely it is pub within 100 steps of your classroom. Once you’ve found the pub, look for your prof in the back. You’ll be able to spot them by their bag of unmarked essays and three empty pint glasses. Offer to buy them a drink. Buy them more. Eventually, alcohol will lead your prof to do something embarrassing. This gives you the upper hand. From that point on, each time you make knowing eye contact with your prof, your grade increases exponentially.

5 Never Take a Full Course Load
Some people take as many as five classes a week. They’re stupid. Never take more than a 60 percent course load. This will free up your time to sleep, catch up on Breaking Bad, or watch pornography. What are you in a rush for, anyway? Getting a job? Entering the real world? Those things inevitably lead to light beer, depression, and Dodge Caravans. In the real world, there is no drinking at 2 pm on Tuesdays. There are no body shots. There are no bare midriffs, or taut six-packs, or butterfly tattoos.

6 Befriend the Admin Staff
Professors may look like adults, but they’re not. Profs are angry, disappointed people who’ve failed miserably in their disciplines, and so they’re forced to teach Introduction to Rectangles to spoiled children at West Upper Nebraska State at Lincoln.

While this lack of adult supervision provides the freedom we crave, from time to time, you’ll need an adult, and the only responsible adults in schools are the administrative staff. They know the processes for handing in essays late, getting doctors’ notes, booking private study rooms for intimate liaisons (freshmen, look up ‘liaisons’), and they have all the power.

7 Avoid Lawsuits, Etc.
Follow my lead and you’ll hover comfortably in college for at least a decade. But your planning could implode if you’re not careful. So remember to avoid:

a) Sleeping with your profs. They will fall in love with you, offer to leave their husbands or wives, and escape Nebraska forever. Draw the line at flirting for free drinks and a B+.
b) Group projects. If you’re not careful, you’ll get paired up with an ambitious student, and for our purposes ambition is the enemy of success.
c) Plagiarizing. You’ll get caught, get kicked out of school, and be working the night shift at Denny’s while living in your parent’s basement. No one gets laid working at Denny’s and living in their parents’ basement.
d) Fraternities. If I need to explain this to you, I can’t help you. Just go to business school and do what you want.

Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work isDistillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011). He lives in Toronto.

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