Last semester, as a whole, our class did very well. We didn’t loose track of what things were due when; we did the work; if we couldn’t figure things out, we helped each other. We had all been severely warned that if any of us had grades that dropped too low, we would have to attend mandatory structured study. No one had to.
In fact, we were repeatedly told what an awesome class we were, and how we were getting bragged up to everyone on campus as being such an good group. We all passed the first semester. If I understood correctly, we were the first class anyone can remember where everyone passed the first semester.
In general, our largest, collective problem was testing stress. Some of us were more obsessive than others, and we all showed it in different ways. But if we could just lick that testing stress, we did well. In response, we encouraged each other to relax, to chill, to remember what we knew we could do instead of getting fixated on all the things we weren’t sure if we could do or not, and to practice whatever scared us the worst. It was not something to rule us; it was just yet one more hurdle to get over.
This semester, things are different. We have two kids in our class who are here because they didn’t make it through the program the first time around. And these kids? All they want to do is tell horror stories. “Oh, so-and-so’s tests are horrible, this subject is so difficult, you think this is hard, you wait till you see what the other thing is like. . .”
It’s unrelenting, and it puts us in a tough spot. Having been repeatedly told by Every. Single. Teacher. how exceptional our group is, having watched each other pull through nearly every test with flying colors—we just don’t quite buy their stories about how we’re all going to fail and die. We want to do what we’ve always done—“Oh, come on, how hard can it be? If the seniors could do it, so can we! After all, we’re smarter than the seniors! We can figure it out.”
But now we’re in the presence of those who couldn’t and didn’t. It seems rather rude to rub it in their face that we’re smarter, cooler, stronger, funnier, quicker, more observant, more diligent, more-awesome-in-every-way than they are. And it makes it hard to encourage them. And it makes us a little resentful that they keep saying how hard everything will be. That’s our Achilles’s heel. You can warn us and offer to help. You can help us deal with our testing anxiety. But it’s really kind of unpleasant for you to just stand there and say “You will all suffer. Suffer! SUFFER!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!”
I want to be nice. I want to welcome them into our group. Especially since they have both said that, last year, everyone got into these “cliques” and all the smart people just hung out with each other in isolation, and didn’t have anything to do with the mere mortals. I’ve always been willing to help anyone out with their brain-work, if they wanted it. Why should they be any different? If they’re struggling, and I can help, I would. But since they’ve been through it once, they think they’ve got the experience, and they’re not looking for hope. They just want to let us know how sad we’ll be later on in the semester.
And that’s the reason that, the next time one of them tells me “Oh, Neuro is so hard. It is so, so hard. You can really worry, then. That’s the whole reason I’m here again!”, I’m going to have a very hard time not saying, “My friend, I have a 4.0 GPA. If you ever want a little help, just let me know and I’ll give you a hand. Maybe this time you can actually make it through.” And smiling.
[In other news, I had a very “sweet” meeting today with my psychology teacher from last semester. I was all prepared to take the high road and be all nice and conciliatory and smooth everything over prettily. Then I rushed from one end of the campus to the other in an effort to be on time so she wouldn’t have to wait a minute for me. . .only to be stood-up for 15 minutes. That gave plenty of time for the pressure gauge to move from “conciliatory” back to “seething”. One does not know, exactly, how much my smile of greeting looked like a smile of greeting and how much it looked like a gritting of teeth. Or maybe baring of teeth. At any rate, she did get the brilliant idea to go and get the grade change form and sign it right in front of me. She said it would take “a few days” to “a week” for the changes to be entered in the system. . .and I’m pretty sure that even she realizes that if it, for some reason, it happens not be in the system within a week, she can expect another friendly visit. And I’m not entirely sure she enjoyed this one. Me, either, now that you mention it.]