HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
kids as cops: Actors get into their roles in a 2008 Nibley Children's Theatre production of Pirates of Penzance. Click Arts&Life index for a link to this unusual theater group. / Photo courtesy of Bonnie Schenk-Darrington

Today's word on journalism

February 17, 2009

Why I miss my hate mail:

"It's an odd thing to admit, but in a perverse sort of way, I actually miss the wretched river, the rancid flow of puerile, nasty, sickeningly homophobic email I used to receive on a regular basis from the ultra-right and the Christian right and the Mormon right and the Bush-impaired whenever I would post a friendly, pointed column full of tangy liberal attitude. . . . . Oh, I miss all the lovely and positive email too, which outpaced the nasty stuff by a huge margin. But the hate mail was very special indeed, great fodder for live readings, for the reaction of horrified disbelief of anyone who saw it, for the charming reminder of just how ugly and violent and grammatically challenged the human animal can be."

--Mark Morford, columnist, (2/13/09)

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at


Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Seven tips from a seven-year undergrad

By R.M. Monk

January 22, 2009 | Tommy: You know, a lot of people go to college for seven years.

Richard: I know, they're called doctors.

-Chris Farley and David Spade from the movie Tommy Boy

January 22, 2009 | I, like Farley's character, have been going to college for seven years, and, no, I'm not a doctor either. I'm finally graduating this semester, and unlike Tommy Boy, I've learned something at college: what it takes to pass. My collegiate career represents the worst to best accomplishments in academia. From flunking an entire semester to getting A's, from academic probation to academic grants, I've done it all. Some of my advice may seem obvious, but I'd like to impart some of the do's and don'ts I've done or seen over the years:

1. Hound Financial Aid. If you pay for college through loans, then you definitely want to get your money on time. Out of all the semesters I've gotten loans, only twice have things gone swimmingly. All too often a hiccup with your paperwork will delay your loan, which may result in your classes dropping or defer your funds for books until halfway though the semester (both have happened to me). So when speaking to the Financial Aid office or whoever are your creditors, never assume everything is as it should be. Double and triple check your loan's status, by phone and in person, and get into the habit of saying “What do I do next?” to ensure you don't miss a step. The employees at Financial Aid try their best, but mistakes do happen. Remember, you have to pay this money back; so it's not too much to demand you receive your loan on time.

2. Go to class. I know, what a shocking concept. But seriously, not attending class is the easiest and most temping way to fail, and going to every class is the easiest way to pass. Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of life is just showing up, and I've found that formula to be fairly accurate. When I attended every period of a class I could barely understand, I usually got a C+ or B-. The great thing is, when you get into this habit, you'll hate it if you ever do have to miss a period, and if your grade is still in danger, a professor is more likely to help you if he or she knows you're always present. A flawless attendance record ensures you become a better student. Besides, you're paying for these classes, why not go?

3. Enroll in MUSC 3020 - History of Jazz. What's better than listening to great music all class long? Listening to great music all class long and getting credit for it. Jazz History is one of the best classes USU has to offer outside of your chosen major because it fills a Depth Humanities requirement and the homework doesn't seem like homework because you mostly listen to music. Isn't that what you do instead of studying? This was the first class I ever got an A in. It allowed me to get my scholastic footing under me, and my iTunes library has grown exponentially since taking it.

4. Always Turn Something In. Never allow yourself to think, “I'm going to fail this paper, so why even turn one in?” Because, dummy, an F is better than a zero. Think about it. If you get a zero for failing to submit anything, then try to make up for it and get a 100 on the next assignment, you're left with an average of only 50. That's not passing. If you at least turn something in, however, even if it stinks and you get a 55, and your next paper is decent and garners an 85, then you have an average of 70, a C-, which is passing. Doing poorly is easier to recover from than doing nothing at all.

5. Network Your Classes. Find people you like in class and make friends. You'll find when you hang out with them, you'll eventually start talking about the class and, bingo, your understanding of the material will increase. Even if the both of you find the material dense and incomprehensible, just sharing frustrations will help. Also, take advantage of all the independent study sessions, or create one if your class doesn't have it. A quick review with people who don't quite understand the class' subject either will do wonders for you on a test.

6. Don't Be Afraid To Ask Your Professor. Yes, these people have advanced degrees and hold the fate of your grade in their hands, but there is no reason to be intimidated by them. You pay the tuition that pays their salaries. So in essence, they are your employees. If you have a question, ask it. Chances are if you're confused, someone else is too. If that's still too intimidating, meet them in their office. That's why they have an office, to help you. Also, if you need an extension on a project, ask! Professors more often than not remember the hassle of being a student and having a life at the same time. So if you have a decent reason for an extension, ask!!! What's the worst that could happen, the professor says “no,” and you're back to square one. Fun Fact: Asking for help has never lowered anyone's grade.

7. Don't Pop Your Zits in Class. I saw somebody do this last semester, and it still grosses me out just thinking about it. Generally, don't do anything infelicitous in class, i.e. vulgar wisecracks, texting, telling personal stories that have little or nothing to do with the class topic, or showing up in your pajamas with a blanket in tow. Whenever I see that, I wonder if the person is purposefully trying to make the professor think that he or she doesn't care about the class, because I guarantee that's what the professor thinks. Don't view college as you did High school: a place you're forced to go. Think of it as job training, because, in essence, that is what it is. George Washington once said, "Every action in company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present." People, listen to Georgey, and act professionally.



Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
Best viewed 800 x 600.