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Psychological Warfare in the Classroom – By Any Means Necessary

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Day one of the spring 2013/14 semester at Santa Monica College came and went as of two days ago. For some it went smoothly and for others not so much. The first day and the first impression you make on your professor could not be more important. One could argue that the A you potentially receive is earned on that first day. Here are a few tricks and tips that can help steer you toward success.

When the syllabus is distributed around class and you look at what you’re up against you will notice that there is a section that says 10% for class participation. Wait, what? Let’s take another look at that. How does one judge class participation and what level of participation earns those 10 percentage points? It is obviously subjective. So what it really means is that the professor has the sole discretion to raise your grade a whole letter, from a B to an A, based on how they “feel” about you as a student. That is massive and very ambiguous. These are perhaps the easiest points to earn and if approached correctly can pretty much guarantee an A if your class score is anywhere above 80%. But you have to know how to earn them.

If anyone watches championship games, like the super bowl, they know the game is not lost during the last few minutes but my making careless mistakes in the beginning of the game. Fact – The teacher is always judging you based on whatever his preconceived biases are. The definition of a bias, “is an inclination of temperament or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective and a refusal to even consider the possible merits of alternative points of view.” What does that mean for you and how can you use it to your advantage? It means if the teacher categorizes you he will never be able to get past his biases and be forced to assess you on a purely academic basis.

Maybe the teacher does not like jocks, surfers, know it all’s, musicians, stoners, or anyone who has negatively impacted them at some point of their life. So if the teacher puts you into one of those categories, whether valid or invalid, you are in trouble. I have a simple set of rules to avoid being categorized.

RULE #1

Never wear clothes with obvious labels. If you are a man, wear a simple uniform of fitted jeans and a plain t-shirt with plain shoes like converse or vans. If you are a woman, wear the equivalent. This way you are a tabula rasa or blank slate and the teacher is forced to look past his preconceived ideas of who he thinks you are and get to know who you really are. In life we all have unique personalities and we let them show but this is not one of those times. You are not in class to make friends and win over your peers you are there to get an A and win over your teachers. Would you walk into a job interview wearing the coolest clothes that express who you are? Not in a million years. Well I have a news flash the first day of class is a job interview between you and your professor and everyday after that is a job and when it is over you want a raise and a promotion. So act accordingly.

RULE #2

Sit it in the first or preferably second row near the center of the room. You want to be noticed, but not look desperate. Students that sit in the back get instantly categorized as people who don’t care or don’t want to be there. That might not be the case, maybe there were just no seats left, but I promise it is not interpreted that way. You might be an A student and you might get all A’s but you will do it the hard way without maximizing that 10% participation.

I could go on for pages about this subject and its importance to your academic career, but this should be enough to get you on your way to an A. Remember success is when preparation meets opportunity.

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