January 5th, 2010

one lap complete...

...not precisely sure how many more we have to go, but we don't need to deal with that issue at this time.

This morning At the close of last week Two and a half weeks ago,* I took the last final exam of my first semester at Hofstra. I am confident in my performance on it, as much as I am confident in the efforts I put in on all my other courses. Back in November, on the basis of superstition, I refused to disclose my theories on why I was doing so much better on this go-around at college than the first. Now that I have no further control over the grades in those courses, I'll talk about the three factors that likely contributed to my easier time here.

It can be argued that Hofstra is, in general terms, an easier school than Cornell. According to the ratings, this should be true. In the USN&WR rankings, the Pride sits far below the Big Red. But I have to issue an incomplete on this one. I only took twelve credits, so my time and resources weren't as strained. There just isn't an apples-to-apples basis for comparison here. None of the classes I took this semester really match up with any I took at Cornell. Any attempt to do a quick and simple juxtaposition of the two schools is limited by their different natures. Even a Dr. Jack Ramsay style comparison wouldn't be totally sufficient. (And one of those will be forthcoming over the winter break.)

That said, the primary cause for the relative upturn in my academic fortunes is various qualities that rubbed off on me during my time in the Navy. One of these is attendance, attendance, attendance. Save those canceled by the instructors, I was present for every session of every class in which I enrolled. This record far surpasses any I submitted at Cornell, and as such cannot be discounted. When you actually show up to your classes, you tend to have a much better grasp of what is being taught in those classes. I can't put an exact number on it, but there were plenty of mornings on the East Hill when I decided I had better things to do than present myself in class. (And in most of those cases, "better things" equaled "more sleep.") Beyond that, I was in my late teens and living on my own for the first time, and exploring a whole new place - things that all competed with academics for my (easily redirected) attention. None of these distractions were present throughout this fall, and thus I was easily able to handle my work.

Three of the four grades are in, and they're all A's (Hofstra doesn't give A+'s). Given that, and the general feeling around me, I stand to continue to do very well in my studies in the future.

* Yes, it took me that long to write this, in many fits and starts.