Tag Archives: classes

Intro to Macroeconomics

I took this class in college, Intro to Macroeconomics, it was some required course that I had no interest in really paying attention to, let alone studying, but I had heard that the course material was pretty easy, and it was one of those giant lecture classes, like a hundred and fifty kids staring down at a professor in a big hall with stadium seating. So I thought, OK, I’ll tough it out, I’ll get my credits and say goodbye forever to the world of economics.


But day one, the professor barely says hello before he goes off on this crazy rant, “All right you little punks, I read on the Internet that you all think I’m an easy A, right? Isn’t that why all of you signed up for this class? Huh? You think I’m easy? Well bad news kids, this is going to be one of the hardest classes you’ve ever taken in your lives.”

I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but he did get his point across, because on the second class, only twelve of us had decided not to drop the course. I don’t know what exactly he was going for in striking such an intimidating tone from the get-go, like was he expecting a small class of only the most dedicated students of macroeconomics? Because, while I can’t speak for anyone else in the class, I chose to remain based solely on convenience. This hour and fifteen Tuesday and Thursday fit so nicely in my schedule. That semester, I never had to wake up any earlier than eleven, I had plenty of space sprinkled throughout my day for lunch or snacks. This course was like the ribbon on an artfully wrapped present.

A gift to myself, half a year of pure convenience. That’s what I was going for anyway. It turned out that this once joke of a professor took his ratemyprofessor.com score a little too seriously. It was like he had a giant chip on his shoulder, something to prove. To who? To us, apparently, the remaining dozen who either wouldn’t or couldn’t find a way to rearrange their entire schedule.

“First order of business,” his words echoed out, he was practically screaming to us, all spaced out in that giant classroom. “If you miss more than one class, your grade is going down a whole letter.” Yikes. Listen, I was all for making a really good effort at attending every class, but come on, that’s a little harsh, don’t you think? “If you don’t hand in an assignment, that’s another letter grade.”

I double-checked the class schedule, to see if it wasn’t too late to switch, but the add-drop period was over. I swallowed hard as I came to terms with what my semester might be looking like. One sick day, jeez, should I just use it right away? Or maybe save it for sometime when I’d really need it?

“Oh and one more thing,” he got ready to spread the icing all over the cake, “You’re only allowed to use a marble notebook. I don’t want to see any spiral bound books in my class. Got it?”

Marble notebooks, I thought, what is this, third grade? I already bought all of my school supplies earlier. This guy wanted me to go back and buy some stupid old-fashioned notebook? What did he care what kind of notebook I used? Was he going to be writing notes in it? It was such an arbitrary decree, like he might as well have banned blue pens.

I felt bad for him, he was obviously lashing out at us because he had no idea where else to direct his impotent rage. And even after he calmed down, he never looked happy. From there on out, it was just him standing at the head of the class, droning on about supply and demand, showing us really boring PowerPoint presentations, never so much as cracking a smile or letting on that he enjoyed at all being in the classroom with us.

As for my end of the bargain, I think I missed two classes. And I put basically zero effort into the course as a whole. This guy was so boring. And I hated that marble notebook. It served a purpose for about two weeks or so, when I spent an entire four classes coloring in the white parts of the marble design with black pen. But after that, I was left with nothing else to do. Those stupid rounded corners on the pages. You’d open it up and it wouldn’t stay open, that thing wanted nothing more than to be permanently closed, just like my mind during that class, my attention span unable to string more than five consecutive seconds together of listening to that guy talk.

My final grade was a C-, by far the worst of my college career. But whatever, I turned out OK right? I mean, yeah, I guess I ruined my shot at being elected chairman of the Fed. But yeah, I guess that’s what I get for basing the entirety of my college career on optimally timed lunch breaks.

Higher education

I don’t know anything about stars, about astronomy. When I was a freshman in college, I remember hearing about an intro to astronomy. I like outer space. It sounded really cool, something that I thought I wanted to look into, but I remember mentioning it to one of my friends, he was like, “No way man. I heard that you have to get up really early so you can look at the stars while it’s still dark out, and there are a lot of mandatory field trips. Don’t do it, I heard the professor’s a really tough grader.”

And that was all it really took to discourage me. My first semester had been planned out for me by the school, so I didn’t have any say in the matter, a couple of eight-thirty classes, the rest at nine-thirty or ten. I look at my life now and I realize that making it to class in the morning shouldn’t have been the challenge that I made it out to be. But I had a lot of trouble, going to bed at night, forcibly removing myself from where all of my friends were hanging out, watching movies, playing video games. That first year, sometimes we would pull all nighters, but not even thinking about school work at all. We’d just stay up and shoot the shit and all of the sudden it would be morning.

So I didn’t take astronomy. Second semester, I made sure that, regardless of any other variables, I just needed to make sure that my classes were as late in the day as possible, noon, five, I think I even wound up signing up for some at like eight or nine. And what kind of stuff would I be studying so much later in the day? Who knows? It didn’t matter. It’s obvious that I wasn’t taking school too seriously. I just wanted to hang out with my friends and have a good time. Any sort of learning was prioritized at a distant second. Actually, it wasn’t even learning. It was just doing whatever I could to make it look like I was receiving some sort of education.

I got my shit together somewhat. By junior year, I was making sure that I was actually putting an effort into my schoolwork. My grades were up and I found myself involved in various on campus activities. There was the school government, the student newspaper, my part-time job driving a van around campus. Still, even though I wound up doing OK, I never really feel like I figured anything out while I was there.

Like, I was supposed to pick a major by my sophomore year. I gave it a little bit of thought, and I couldn’t figure it out. I knew that I wanted to get good grades. Why? I have no idea. I chose history as a major, because my girlfriend chose history and so it seemed like a good idea. My dad was a history major. So I took all of these classes and showed up and took notes and wrote papers.

During senior year, I realized that I had saved up all of these electives, for what? Again, no plans, so I started taking drawing classes, painting, creative writing, filmmaking. It was the best year. I had so much fun learning how to do things that I hadn’t done before, like making short movies or putting paint on a canvas.

What had I been doing the previous three years? Why wasn’t I getting the same satisfaction out of any of my other classes? Probably because I didn’t challenge myself. I took history in large part because I knew that I could get away with putting in minimal effort in exchange for decent grades. Good enough, right? That’s what you’re there for, to get good grades.

But what else did I miss out on? I always think back to that astronomy class, every time I happen to look up at the sky on a clear night, I see the Big Dipper, the North Star, and that’s it. I don’t know anything else about any other constellations. I couldn’t tell you anything really, I’m trying to list all of the other random astronomic facts in my head, but there’s nothing. I said Big Dipper already, right?