Last Class

I finished my journalism education in a geology class taught in the business school. Go Ducks?

I rarely skip class. If I had to count the number of times I’ve skipped class in four years of college, I’d say I’ve probably skipped around 15 times, total. Maybe 20.

These classes cost money, goddamn it – not to me, of course, but that almost raises the stakes. I’ve been blessed with a college education on someone else’s dime; it’d be practically fraudulent for me to take that money and then not utilize the product it’s buying. Well, maybe not fraudulent. Perhaps ‘cocktacular’ is a better term.

That said, when I get to class, I seldom if ever pay attention. I mean, shit, I gave up on taking notes sophomore year and never looked back. A lot of people take notes because it helps them pay attention, which was exactly why I stopped – all that paying attention bullshit was really getting in the way of my daydreaming, which I think is far more important to a writer than an intricate knowledge of the cultural impact of voodoo in the colonial period. Evidently my professor agreed, because he gave me an A-.

I paid close attention in the following classes: Feature Writing I, Feature Writing II, Intro To Electronic Media, Advanced Electronic Media, Writing For The Media, and Media Aesthetics. These classes were interesting to me and relevant to what I want to do with my life, so it wasn’t even a struggle to pay attention.

In my other classes, though, I go, sit down, and divide my attention between the front of the room and the clock for however long the class lasts. I don’t text or fuck around on the computer – I just sit and let my mind wander. It’s a very peaceful and meditative time. No wonder so many free spirited girls from the suburbs become Buddhists in college.

Perfect attendance and lackluster participation have earned me a 3.53 GPA. I’m not telling you this so that the girls who read my blog and reportedly “really like me” (thanks, Anonymous!) will tear off their clothes and line up for a chance at my clearly superior genetic material;* I’m telling you this because I think it reflects way more on the University of Oregon than it does on me.

*To make up for what could be considered egocentric bragging, here’s this story: Once, while trying to mount my bike, I caught my leg on the seat, lost my balance, and fell over into a clump of bushes, dragging the bike down on top of me, in front of a large group of people. In my defense, I had only learned to ride a bike three months earlier. I was 20.

Going to a state college is a lot like running away from a bear: You don’t have to run the fastest, you just have to run slightly faster than the other guy. In the bear scenario, the other, slower guy gets mauled horribly by the bear, giving you time to escape. In the college scenario, the guy who never shows up to class gets a C or an F, while the guy who shows up, smiles, and doesn’t pay attention pulls at least a B+, because a lot of the classes here are structured to penalize poor attendance more than poor attention.

Man, if there was an ‘Analogies For Writers’ class I would so take it, and all of you would thank me.

Of course, exams are ostensibly there to make sure you’ve been paying attention, but fortunately for me, almost every professor I’ve had has released an itemized list of topics that will be covered on the upcoming exam, so the night before I can go down the list, familiarize myself with those terms courtesy of Google/Wikipedia, and be set the next morning. I don’t even buy textbooks anymore.

I’d been woolgathering my way through a particularly dull geology lecture today – evolution, for all its controversy in the south, is still seriously boring – when, with three minutes left until class let out, I realized that this was the last college class I would ever attend.

The next three minutes were very wistful and melancholic as I tried to savor every last second of classroom education before it was gone forever, as opposed to ignoring it and wishing it would end faster like I’d been for the past four years.

The thing is, it’s easy to savor every detail and form an amazing mental picture of something like a sunset or a wedding, but sitting in a lecture hall full of freshmen who keep dropping their iClickers somehow does not lend itself quite as well to sentimentality.

I wound up thinking a lot about my first college class, back in fall of 2007: COLT 101, Intro to Comparative Literature.* Sitting in class that first day, I paid rapt attention and took meticulous notes, because college, I knew, was a big deal. There were no second chances, and as we’d been told in our orientation seminars, we couldn’t expect to just coast through four years and get a diploma.

*The Comparative Literature department had recently changed its four-letter class abbreviation to COLT from CLIT, presumably because lots of business majors were signing up.

I learned a lot of important stuff in college, but I’d say that the bulk of that learning took place at Taylor’s, or somebody’s apartment, or Fathom’s, or a motorcoach, or Rennie’s Landing. Very little took place in a classroom, because I wasn’t interested in learning most of what was being taught.

The way I see it, my family didn’t buy me an education, they bought me an opportunity to get a piece of paper that tells employers that they have to pay me more for some arbitrary reason. Everything I’ve picked up along the way – friends, social skills, improved writing abilities, a taste for whiskey – is part of the package.

Truman Capps will feel like an ass if he fails geology now.