Ask a fifth-year

Drew Baumgartner

Dear Drew,
I just overheard a biology study group say “Oh my God, [name of person who should be ashamed, very ashamed]. It’s not ALLIES! It’s alleles!” like it was the revelation of the century and wanted to stab myself in the eye with something very sharp – and preferably, slowly. It’s times like this that make me wonder if getting in to Lawrence was not so much of an accomplishment after all…
How should I deal with the putrid stupidity that pollutes the Lawrence Bubble on a daily basis, and undermine my sense of achievement from the last 4.66 years?! Sure, I have an apartment, but it’s not possible to completely avoid coming to campus – when there are things like free food and underclassmen to prey upon…
Overly Crabby and Off-Campus
A quick aside to all non-fifth years who have chastised me for my negative attitude: See?? It’s not just me! All fifth-years have lost their patience for this kind of thing. It probably happens to all 23-year-olds, you just don’t see it with graduates because they’re off interacting with other grown-ups. You’ll all understand in a year or two, mark my words.
Anyway, on to your question, Overly Crabby. I think we’ve all experienced this, and it’s kind of a paradox for our egos. On the one hand, being surrounded by lunkheads struggling to pronounce “acetylcholine” stokes our – okay, my – already strong sense of intellectual superiority. On the other hand, the fact that these dimwits are even in class with us may strike a forceful blow to our pride of having gotten in to a prestigious liberal arts school, one of the cornerstones of said sense of superiority. The trick is to not let your acceptance letter be the only thing that makes you better than everybody else.
For example, I’m currently taking a class where simple instructions need to be repeated at least three times before someone finally asks for clarification, prompting several more repeats of the initial instructions. This has the potential to drive a person insane, realizing your peers apparently lack the processing power you were honing in kindergarten, but I take solace in the fact that these aren’t normal students; they’re music majors. Even if they got into the same school as you, it’s based mostly on the fact that they’re good at the viola or something, not necessarily because your intellects are comparable. I can likewise write off my other, similar experiences as the work of freshmen, bio students, or jocks – just kidding guys! Seriously, relax.
I know it’s scary to think that Lawrence puts you under the same umbrella as someone who can’t point to his or her own epidermis, but you have to keep in mind that that umbrella is intended to house the entire academic range.
If C’s are meant to be the average and you’re an A student, it only follows that many students aren’t going to be at your level. Put another way, if everyone were as smart as you, the bar would be higher, and we’d instead be terrified about sharing classes with people who occasionally forget the atomic number of chromium.
That said, while the fact that there are some dummies on campus doesn’t assault my self-esteem, dealing with these people is still really annoying. You’re right to reject staying away from campus as an option, Overly Crabby; this is your school, too. My strategy has been to look and act as scary as possible whenever anyone is about to say anything, ever. Can you grow a big beard? Can you act surly and gruff, if not downright condescending, anytime somebody says something dumb within earshot of you? Your pseudonym makes me think you may be able to pull off the “angry all the time for no reason” thing pretty well. This method is so effective that I know the names of exactly zero idiots.