By staff writer E.E. Southerby
May 16, 2004
“Handy College Tips for College Kids with Hands”
Now Playing: “I Can Buy You” by A Camp
Welcome to the long-overdue conclusion to the “Exams” series, the foremost comedic resource on exams and related paraphernalia. Boy, it's a good thing I didn't just get bored of this subject and move on to some other topic, like the joy of brick, because then you'd never get to find out how this series turns out, and that would be worse than missing the finale of Friends because you happened to be tied up naked with a black hood over your head while being urinated upon in an Iraqi prison cell. So buckle up and get ready for the most fun you can legally have while discussing the topic of college finals, or more specifically the aftermath thereof. Seriously. The first draft of this column was a lot more fun, but the government stepped in and said “No Way, Jose!” I suggest you all stop reading this column immediately and write angry, poorly-spelled letters to your congresspersons until they permit more fun and stop using 80's slang. Anyway, here's what happened:
-If you leave an exam at the same time as another person, even if you've never spoken to this person before and have absolutely no interest in doing so, you are legally obligated to ask them how they did as you leave the room. Most people understand this rule and will politely reply “Good, and you?” to which you can then reply “Pretty good” and then you can both move on with your meaningless lives and never speak to each other ever again. Unless of course it was an English exam, in which case you should reply “Pretty well” and then move on from there.
-Occasionally, though, you leave an exam with someone who doesn't know this post-exam protocol. When you ask him how he did, he will begin droning on and on about the ambiguity in question 38 and how he was up all night studying but the prof is such an asshole so he might not have done as well as he wanted to do which sucks because he's trying to get into med school and this is the third time he's taken the class and SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP. This is why it pays to always carry with you a smoke grenade orconcealed semi-automatic assault rifle. If you happen to lack foresight and find yourself in this situation without any of the aforementioned items, simply stare at the guy intently, nodding ever so slightly and blinking 400 times a minute until he loses his train of thought, at which point it is perfectly acceptable to rape him right there in the hallway.
-One of the peculiar quirks about college (here I am referring to my college, and extrapolating to colleges in general based on illogical and/or non-existent evidence) is that you never find out the grade you got on your final. To prevent cheating, all exams, once graded, are locked up in a secret underground vault and there's no way you can see how you did without recreating key scenes from Ocean's Eleven (and, to a lesser extent, Shrek). Oh, sure. Your professor will SAY you can make an appointment to come see your completed exam under ultraviolet lights and camera surveillance, but nobody in recorded history has ever stayed at their college town long enough after finals to see if it's a hoax. Just face the fact that you can never contest your exam grade, or see a breakdown of your marks. Ever. Also, try not to waste your time thinking about which scenes from Shrek I was talking about.
-After you finish your exams, there is a period I like to refer to as the “Waiting Period” (because I'm too tired to think of a clever name) in which you do nothing but wait for your final grades to become available. These days, schools post final grades on some sort of “Internet” so you can view them as soon as they become available, which is approximately fourteen years after graduation. Seriously, how long does it take to put a multiple-choice Scantron sheet through a computer? My theory is that there's only one computer in the universe capable of reading Scantron sheets, located at the bottom of a well in Kentucky. And because it was created in 1971 it can only process four exams per day. Right now every final I've ever written is being shipped off to be dropped down this well, and the computer will spit out my results in the order it was received. Paints a pretty picture, don't it?
-What's with final grades being available exclusively online, anyhow? As anyone who's seen the hit 1995 film Hackers knows, any pimply 13-year-old can break intouniversity records, CIA mainframes or NASA in less time than it takes Anna Nicole Smith to run fifty feet (8.5 minutes). Between that and the fact that you can never independently verify your exam score, your grades are about as accurate as a Justin Rebello movie review.
-Quote of the Moment: I emailed one of my professors, asking to know how I did on my final exam. When I received his curt and completely unhelpful reply, “Pretty well,” I wrote back asking for a more specific answer. Three days later, I received this email: “I regret to inform you that I am unable, as per university policy, to release your exam grade to you via email. If you would like to schedule an appointment, we could discuss the matter in person.” When I replied that I would love to meet in person, but being 5000 miles away from school makes the idea cost- and time-prohibitive, he responded: “Okay, then. Have a good summer.” I guess I'll have to live with “pretty well.”
-All right, all right. It's that part where Shrek and Eddie Murphy are trying to break into the castle and save the princess from the dragon. They're crossing the really perilous bridge. Remember? Getting to your exams is a lot like that.
-Super Off Topic Corner 2 Turbo: Have you ever heard Bill O'Reilly say the word “negroes”? Doesn't he kind of say it like it was a highly infectious disease? As in: “Ah think the reason Detroit has all that crime is because they got the Negroes. A'right?” Fuck you, Bill O'Reilly, and fuck your No Spin Zone. A'right?
-For a lark, try going into your school library—the same library that was so overcrowded with twitching students a few short days ago—the morning after exams are officially over. It'll be a gas! It's like stepping onto the set of the Omega Man. I swear there were actual tumbleweeds in the Upper Mezzanine.
-There's no feeling in the world quite like the feeling you get after you finish your last exam. As you head back to your dorm room, you can't help but feel a little giddy as you know you've just fulfilled all your scholastic responsibilities for the year, and you can now rest easy knowing you finally have some time to yourself. Time to sit back, slug a few beers, and party away for the next six hours, because that's as long as you get to evacuate your dorm. Nobody's sure why you have to leave school so soon. Maybe they're gassing the place for termites. Whatever the reason, don't let the fact that you're finally done school for the year give you a big head. You've got some serious packing to do, and I'm sure you'll do it pretty well.