Back to school – Freshman edition

Dear Engineering freshman,

Welcome to University!! This is going to be the most exciting 4-10 years of your life! You are an emancipated adult – this means you are responsible for your own laundry – congratulations! You are going to be inundated with information in the next few days during orientation and the first week of classes so I wanted to get the chance to give you a little advice that may help you navigate these turbulent waters of higher education.

College is an incredibly wonderful time of your life – you have no real responsibilities to the world other than showing up to class (which you won’t do all the time) and completing your assignments (which you will definitely not do all the time). Your professors are committed to your success, we want you to do well and we want you to become productive citizens of this world. You want to do well in classes – we want you to do well in the rest of your life! Now, put down that smoking glass cylindrical apparatus, stop taking that oxygen break, and give me your full attention!

1. Turn your phone off in class. Because if you don’t I will answer it and I don’t care who’s on the other end, I won’t bother being polite. Or I will and you will have to explain to that guy/girl you didn’t want to see ever again, why you have to cancel your date.

2. Don’t friend me on Facebook. I am not your friend – I am that annoying person who will comment on your status with pearls of wisdom like “Get back to work dumbass” or “Nice twerking photo – congratulations on your F”! [NOTE: I actually had to look up what “twerking” was and can I say – its not pretty!!]

3. It doesn’t matter how long you spent on your homework, if the code doesn’t run you get no credit! See, we are trying to prepare you for the world and the world is a crazy bitch who demands working code and doesn’t care that you “really really tried hard”!

4. I am available to help you at any time but if you choose to use your time with me to talk about your relationship problems please expect that my eyes will glaze over in a few seconds.

5. You have paid tuition to sit in my class and let me guide your learning and teach you everything I know – you have NOT paid for a particular grade! You get the grade you earned so suck it up and make better choices.

6. Yes, I do know you have a life and you don’t want to be doing homework on a Thursday night. Sooooo, lets be honest – that homework was assigned on Monday and you were given 5 days to do it. During the week that you blew it off, your professor held office hours, and invited you to ask questions via email. So, go ahead and make excuses to your parents and your friends for your performance – you and I are both going to know the truth.

7. This is an engineering course – it involves math, logical thinking, reasoning, and methodical problem solving – there is no Wikipedia entry you can plagiarize all that from! It requires you to exercise that part of your body between your ears.

8. If I see you sleeping in class – I reserve the right to make fun of you, drop a heavy book near your head, and draw a mustache on your face with permanent marker.

9. Be open to new ideas and new experiences. You don’t go to college to learn stuff you already know, you don’t go to meet people just like yourself, and you definitely don’t go to college to stay in your comfort zone. It’s my job to challenge you and make you think – this may cause some cramping. But if its comfort you want – then stay at home!

And finally,
10. Assume that everything that I say in class will be on your test! Everything! If I didn’t expect you to know it, I wouldn’t have spent time and energy saying it!

If you remember these things you will have no problem succeeding in college and I will happily write you a glowing letter of recommendation to graduate school! I may even be your friend on Facebook!

Professor Rhodes


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