Back to School: A Survival Guide

The first day of school kicks ass. Halls are filled with hustle, bustle, and motivated students. Walk into that classroom and your life can change. New friends could be made. New knowledge secured. This week Miami Dade College's nine campuses opened. Others follow suit next week. The following Back to School Guide is designed to help you navigate the hectic start of the semester. Remember, the only thing better than the first day of school, is the last day of school.

1. Use Rate My Professor.
There's nothing worse than a bad professor. Seriously. Class is an

investment and a journey. For 16 weeks, you will be listening and

learning from your prof. The work's hard enough, to stay on top of the

game who needs a horrible teacher getting in the way. What constitutes a

bad teacher? Someone who's boring and disengaging, yet hard as heck

when it comes to workloads. Someone's who's cocky and self-righteous, with an alpha ego who gets off on belittling students

because they can. You know the type. Someone who smells. Someone who

speaks broken English, or mumbles, or is a low talker. Someone who

doesn't care. Use rate my professor. Get a preview of your future.  

2. Don't buy the book.

Never buy the book before class starts. Many teachers do not use the

book. Besides, the bookstore is too crowded the first week of school and

prices are redonkulous. $200 for a book? Really? Does that come with a

dinner at Morton's? College books are a scam fueled by publishing

industry giants such as Putnam and Bedford St. Martin. Sniff out the

class first. If you absolutely need the book, rent it, or buy it used.

Or, how about this? Make friends with the hottest boy or girl in the

class. Form a study group. Get together in the library or at their house

before big tests. Share a book. Not only could this save you money,

it's a healthy studying pattern, and who knows, you might even get


2. Communicate with Your Teacher to a Point.

Have to miss a class or two? No problem. This is college. There's no

truant officer. Yet it's always a good idea to let your professor know.

Still, in these changing times, communicating today could be

bewildering. Are there boundaries? Should you befriend your prof on

Facebook? Text? Call? Write letters? Tweet? Drop in on their office

hours? A simple e-mail will suffice. And simple is the key word. Be

aware of TMI. Don't explain how you can't come to class because you're

on your moon-cycle and your stupid boyfriend borrowed your car to go get

chocolate and the car broke down. Or, how you were arrested in the

middle of the night because you were trespassing at the Key Biscayne

Marina on a sick graffiti binge. TMI.

3. Make Friends with a Nerd.

It's wise to make a friend. If you're absent, they can tell you what you

missed. Or, if you don't understand, they can clarify. Maybe you can

study together. Also, if you're out of town and facing a deadline, your

new friend will certainly hand in an assignment for you so it's not

late. So, when choosing a friend, choose wisely. Don't pick the dude who

came in 30 minutes late stinking of crippy weed, find yourself a nerd.

The nerd will likely be sitting in the front of the class. They will be

asking your prof a lot of questions. That's your girl or guy.

4. Don't Miss the First Week.

The first week is the most important of the semester. You need to get

your syllabus. You need to see if you like the vibe. How does the room

look? Is it dark and creepy and extra cold, all decorated with

anatomical posters, skeletons, beakers, and dissected frog stations? If

it's your English class, it shouldn't be. Is there Internet access? Will

your prof be writing on an old screechy chalkboard? How about the other

students? Are they cute? Too young? Too old? Your professor? Is he

Indiana Jones or Ben Stein? This stuff matters because you don't have

to stay. There's something called an Add / Drop period that allows you

to shop around classes the first week. Don't be afraid to ask for an

Override, either.  

5. Back to School Shopping.

Going back to school is an event that gets you to the store. You need

supplies, books, binders, pens, markers, sharpies, highlighters,

journals, protractors, rulers, maybe a new computer, or printer.

Disregard all of these necessities and buy yourself some dope threads.

Get a haircut. This is Miami. You don't go to school to learn, you go to

look good.

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J.J. Colagrande
Contact: J.J. Colagrande