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I’m always surprised my first day back at school at how little is accomplished and how much more work I have than I expected. I was only planning to take honors organic chemistry, but since I just happened to show up to that class two days early. Having already claimed the best seat in the small lecture hall, I had to find something else to do so that my time on campus was not wasted. “Why not sign up for biochemsitry” I thought…

When did professors decide that the first day of class should be wasted on the syllabus? If I’m going to catch a 6:30am bus so that I can ensure the perfect seat in a 650 person lecture hall, I want to experience a lecture worth of 650 people’s time. The way I see it, the quality of the lecture (Q), the preparation that goes into it (P), and the WOW factor (Wf) (which happens when you reach a new level of worldly understanding) should all be proportional to the total time that lecture consumes. Here’s the simple equation:

Q + P + Wf = N * T; where N is the number of students and T is the length of the lecture. (don’t try unit analysis on this, it works out, but it would take a 650 person-hour lecture for me to prove it.)

Now when I join 650 people for an hour long biochemistry lecture at 7:30 in the morning, I’m expecting that lecture to blow the pants off any class I ever took at Columbia. Instead, a woman stood there going over administrative things that I had already seen online, and then a man turned down the lights and in a soothing, slightly accented (but not in a way that made him funnier, or more intelligent sounding) voice told us how important prokaryotic flagella are. Then he started mumbling about membrane bound organelles and I could feel 1300 eyelids turn to lead weights as the bleachers started to shake from 650 whiplashing necks.

The upside? The class is filmed, so if I do fall asleep I can watch a rerun online. Also, when I miss class for a race, I can still use my prof’s voice to induce a nap.

My organic chemistry prof seems much cooler. He laughed at himself and didn’t try to scare anyone out of the class. Plus I was able to swim between classes, so all I had to do to wake myself up was to lick my hand. The resulting chlorine released from my pores give the class that “just cleaned” smell, and is almost as good as coffee.

After class however, I missed the first bus, and had to wait 30 minutes for the next. True to form, I decided to go look for something to do, and ended up signing up for an MCAT class. To recap my day: One class turned to two turned to three. I think giving me free time is dangerous.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. I think you recounting the day in mathematical equations is scary. But I should remember the chlorine trick, although when I nod off in my 15 person classes it is a bit more obvious. Seriously though, how about more sleeping and less class? I would totally opt for that.

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