The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Academic Illusion



Being in school for a majority of my young life has taught me many things. I have learned that leaving a half-filled coffee mug in your locker for an entire school year turns your coffee into a gelatin-like substance. I have learned that being made fun of for having morals pales in comparison to the value in actually having them. I have learned that most people, in all actuality, really don’t need Trigonometry. I haven’t used it once.

Perhaps one of the greatest assets I have obtained is the knowledge to say a bunch of nothing and make it sound like something. Those of you in college and grad school especially know what I am talking about. You get online, type in your answer and await the responses to judge how well you got away with your nonsense. One statement of “You make a very poignant observation” is enough to send your adrenaline pumping for the next discussion question you will conquer with absolutely no knowledge in that brain of yours.

I have decided to compile a list of tips for those of you who may be perfecting your skills. May they serve you well in your future…or at least until you actually know what you are talking about.

1. Rephrase the person’s statement into a question — If the person wrote: “I believe that, based on current statistics and speculation, the company’s profits will begin to rapidly decrease,” all you have to do is pose a question to gauge how they really feel. Respond with “So if I understand you correctly, you are predicting that the company’s profits will rapidly decrease based on statistics and speculation?” This will make you look annoyingly interested and prove that you actually are hearing the person out. And you didn’t even have to think of a new idea.

2. Use phrases like “You make a very valid point” or “I beg to differ” — this sounds immensely more academic than the alternative. Saying, “Yeah, that’s right” or “I don’t think so” makes you sound like a child on the playground fighting with Bubba Jo Jenkins. You need to stroke the person’s ego or deflect their comments with intellectuality. If you get lucky, you won’t even have to tell what part of their wordy spew was valid.

3. Inform the instructor of what they were “trying to say.”—This little phrase can be your friend in academia. People have a natural tendency to want to be heard and fully express their thoughts. Professors get their doctorate in this. So when they elaborate on how the current Presidential administration is enacting policies that will lead to the downfall of our nation, they aren’t done. They may stop their rant, but their opinions haven’t concluded. That’s why you should use this gem: “So what you are trying to say is that you disagree completely with the recent legislation that was passed.” Game over. The lecture takes up the rest of the class and you don’t even get called on.

4. Elude to an article or book and make it sound like it is well-known by everyone who is somebody—By referencing a book and acting like everyone should have read it at some point in their lives, you will tackle those people who don’t want to be the kid who missed the smart bus in that particular subject. For example: “In the well-known article by Davidson on recent astronomical discoveries, he shows that a new planet has been added to the list.” People may not think that a new planet was added, but they aren’t going to refute Davidson the Great.

5. Master the art of making small personal experiences very applicable — This is probably the most important attribute for higher level courses. They want to know how you have run across such experiences outside of the classroom. If they are discussing if you have encountered discrimination, don’t sit there like a bump on a log. Remember the time that man cut in front of you in traffic? It’s because you were a woman. Use it.

6. Perfect your facial expressions — Sometimes the best comments can be made in total silence. When your teacher is talking, furrow your forehead and look inquisitively into their eyes. When they make a point, tilt your head and nod slowly. The motion should not be as if you completely agree, but as if the information is slowly trickling into your brain with each motion. If an obnoxious idiot begins to speak, act indignant—but silently.

We are all put into situations where we feel like we have no idea what is going on. It’s a constant state of being as we enter new situations. Even in your first job, you will feel like you are barely bobbing above rising waters. Though these are all in jest, they all hold a certain truth. And that truth is confidence. If you act like you know what you are doing, you will survive until you actually do.

And that’s something I actually do know for a fact.

2 Comments:

Blogger bj said...

Always love your blog!!

August 31, 2010 at 3:27 AM  
Blogger Cole said...

hahaha LOVE this! Bring on the next round of DQs... I'm ready ;)

October 8, 2010 at 1:51 PM  

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