Friday, August 6, 2010

Freakonomics

About 18 months ago, I decided that a year was more than enough time to be out of school.  Yarn and “The Biggest Loser” were pleasant enough, but I needed to feel like I was working towards something besides finishing a blanket and cheering on a group of shrinking people towards svelte-ness. I had graduated in spring 2008 with a double-major, but the double programs had precluded me from taking a lot of "fun" courses, like writing and language courses. I intended at the time to go back for graduate school in Political Science, but I didn’t feel like waiting a whole additional year. I wanted me some school RIGHT THEN, DARN IT!

Fortunately, working for the university means I get to take classes at the university. So I applied as a transfer student to earn a second B.A., in French. I love everything about the French language – the irregular verbs, the copious silent letters, the way you can sound bored while talking about almost anything… it’s beautiful. Plus, French majors get to do all sorts of other fun things, like eat cheese and drink wine, and watch films, and study abroad in awesome places. PLUS, in case you weren’t aware, French is not only the Language of Love, but also the Language of the Ridiculously Successful!

(A Few Ridiculously Successful People Who Are Fluent in French: Alex Trebec, Robert DeNiro, Michelle Obama, William Shatner, Elton John, Halle Berry, Jodie Foster, Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Mick Jagger, Emma Watson, Sting, Morgan Freeman, the Entire British Royal Family, Tina Turner, etc.)

Anyway, I thought that perhaps I ought to balance the French with something a little more… sciencey. Something that would bolster a Political Science grad school application. That was why I decided that I should pursue a minor in Economics alongside the French degree. I thought, “Only six courses? No problem!”

The French courses were all full for summer term, so I would have to start those in the fall. I decided to start by taking a politics class and Macroeconomics, the basic intro-to-econ course. As if to make my life even easier, Macroeconomics was offered as a “self-paced course” over the summer! All I had to do was take the first of three exams before the end of the term, and I would have a whole year to take the other two! No homework! No papers! No required class time! I positively hugged myself with glee after hitting the “enroll” button.

From this point onward, it’s probably easiest to share this story in a timeline (some dates are approximates):

May 15, 2009: Summer term begins. I occasionally leaf through chapter 1 of my Economics book to get a sense of what I’m studying.

Mid-June 2009: “Wow, my politics class is great! This Economics minor is going to look great for my graduate school application!”

July 1: I begin studying Economics in earnest, in order to ace the first exam and take the second one before summer term ends.

July 3: I discover that I utterly hate Economics.

July 7: I realize that it is too late to drop the course without a penalty.

July 10: I “take a break” from studying, because I really only need to take the first exam before the end of the summer.

July 28: I find my Economics book under a pile of crap on my desk and panic, because I have to take the exam sometime in the next five days.

July 28-August 1: I am miserable. I re-name this field of study, “Freakonomics.”

August 2: I take the exam. It goes reasonably terribly. I expect to score MAYBE an 85?

August 8: I receive my score in the mail. I get a 78. :-(

August 14: After recovering from this ugly news, I decide that I will simply space the other exams out over fall and spring. With a full semester to study each unit, surely I will understand the material well enough to earn “As” and receive a good grade in the course.

September 2009-May 2010: I do not study Freakonomics. I occasionally have panic attacks about the fact that I am not studying Freakonomics:

“OMG I HAVE TO TAKE TWO MORE EXAMS ON THIS STUFF AND I GOT A FREAKING C+ ON THE FIRST EXAM AND THAT’S GOING TO DESTROY MY GPA AND WHY DIDN’T I DROP THIS STUPID CLASS BEFORE AND I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

But mostly I just do not study.

May 14, 2010: Summer term begins.  It occurs to me that I have twelve weeks to complete Freakonomics, or I will get a grade of ~28% in the course.

June 11: I intend to go to the University Testing Center and take Exam 2. I do not.

June 18: I intend to go take Exam 2. I do not.

June 28: I gather my book, pencils, and calculator, intending to take Exam 2. I go to Starbucks instead.

July 9: I bite the bullet and go to take Exam 2. I forget my calculator, but the kind fellow at the testing center loans me one. I actually feel good about the exam as I turn it in!

July 9-14: I wait semi-excitedly for my score. “Wow, I think I might have gotten an A on this one! Maybe this Economics stuff isn’t so bad!”

July 14: Never mind. I get an 84. Freakonomics sucks worse than a broken vacuum.

July 15: I decide to give myself “a few days off” from studying (ignoring the fact that I probably will not do better on the next exam if I study LESS, rather than more).

July 29: I realize that I have to take Exam 3 by August 9. It covers 6 chapters, of which I have skimmed one and a half. I weep.

July 30-August 5: I alternate between internally weeping and studying with the focus of a sleep-deprived squirrel surrounded by disco balls.

August 6 (today): I have 72 hours before I have to take the test. Rather than weep (or study), I write a blog post about it all.



TO BE CONTINUED.

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