This week’s moment spotlight goes to the pub gatherings in celebration of the “last class”. The last week of official lectures is now over. Unlike high school, where there is only one “last day of class”, university classes occur 1-2 times a week. This means in the last week of the semester, you can have 3-4 “last day of classes” and you get to celebrate that with 3-4 different sets of classmates.
So yes, we hit the pub, sometimes with the professor.
Now this kind of gathering doesn’t always happen. It definitely didn’t happen in my first and second year, where people weren’t legal yet and there were over 200 students in one class. It doesn’t always happen in upper division classes either, depending on the professor’s personality and how well the rest of the class gets along. But when it does happen, I always find it more enjoyable than I initially assume.
In elementary school, it was freaky enough to run into my teacher at a grocery store, so the idea of grabbing a beer with my professor was something I never dreamed I’d agree to. As for grabbing a beer with my classmates, why not just grab a beer with my closer friends? You know, people I actually spend time with outside of school.
So those were my negative presumptions, but they are very wrong.
I’m not sure if it’s because upper-division classes are smaller in class sizes and more specific in regards to what we are learning, but my classmates are cool. We’re into marketing and business – all the different areas of it. We’re into travelling, social media, graduating, beer, and a bunch of other surprisingly shared hobbies.
I think that is the joy in making new friends or new connections. It’s the excitement of discovering something unexpected in somebody else. We spend four months together and sure, you get to talk to each other during class, but you may not get the chance to really learn about them- where they come from, what they are passionate about, or what challenges they are facing.
It’s the same thing with the professor. You spend four months listening to him or her speak, asking them questions and expecting them to answer everything. You talk to them and realize they are human, just like you and the 25 other kids in class.
In my school’s business classes, grades are always curved. This means how well you do in the class is subject to how well everyone else does. If the average is 80%, then 80% becomes a C+/B-. Likewise, if the average is 40% and you got 50%, that could be a high B. The curve can work in or against your favour, but most of the time in business, it is against.
This makes students very competitive. Granted, that’s what the school wants – for us to experience the competitiveness of “the real world”. But it could make for quite a cruel social system, especially when students decide to not help a friend because they want to get ahead themselves.
In an ideal world, everybody would help each other succeed. But in the cut-throat world of first year university, where 18-year olds are freaking out about the possibility of losing a scholarship, being put on academic probation, disappointing parents, or not meeting their own standards of acceptable grades, the entire idea of that seems too naive.
The system is still the same in upper-division: our grades are still curved, the only difference is that we are competing with 30 people instead of 300. But when you know the 30 people you are competing with, you realize the importance of other things like teamwork, discussion, and overall quality of learning. You realize that you’re not really competing with each other.
You never really were.
– cue High School Musical’s “We’re All in this Together” –
“Intelligence is not a competition,” she said. “There is plenty to go around, and there are many ways it can be demonstrated.”
― Chris Colfer, The Enchantress Returns