If you’re one of my professors, don’t read this.

Hey guys learning is cool turns out everyone was right all alone etc, etc.

It would probably be more accurate to say that being smart is cool again, but then there we would really be getting into an endless semantic argument about the meaning of again, because when we were little being smart wasn’t really cool because no one was cool but parents thought it was cool to have curious kids and in high school it was cool to be dumb or rather to not care and study in secret and casually get A’s because that’s what people respected: no visible effort.

When you’re not less-than-or-equal-to-17, people respect effort; hard work is a trait that is universally valued. I’ve come across somewhat of a philosophical conundrum relating to this in my own life. Here’s the frame: I’m taking 5 courses, which given actual class time is work enough. My days are always jammed, and being a humanities kid there’s always going to be a ton of reading. This is the second semester at Colby that I’ve taken five classes, so I feel like this shows that I work hard. Here’s the dirty little secret, though, and in turn the crux of this metaphysical difficulty: I’m taking two of the classes’ pass/fail.

Colby calls it satisfactory/unsatisfactory, and I call it uncomfortable. I love the idea of taking classes s/u, as given that I don’t pay for classes buy the credit, I intend to squeeze my moneys worth out of this institution. It also gives me a certain amount of freedom and lessens the pressure from classes, knowing that each class I’m taking s/u will never be the one that is keeping me up late in the library. So that theoretically leaves me only three classes to freak out about on a consistent basis (I’m currently in pull-up-my-GPA mode.)

What irks me is the timing of all of this. The school requires you to declare which classes you want to take s/u right at the beginning of the semester. Although they allow you to revoke that standing, knowing that I won’t try as hard in those classes makes me feel bad for the professors. Obviously I will still try, but given that I only need to put in a C-worthy effort, I feel like I may be wasting my professor’s feedback. What ends up happening, however, is that this guilt is enough to make me put almost as much effort in the classes I take s/u as in the graded classes I am taking. Which means I’m drowning and my own conscience is refusing to throw me a line.

Who knows, maybe hard work and a conscience are inseparable.

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