Your First Semester Will Screw You Over. Here's How:
My friends have always known me as one of the nicest individuals to ever walk the earth.
Just not any earth that they exist on. Therefore, in valiant efforts to bring about a change in their unfounded impression of me, with the aim of promoting altruism amongst our SMU community where treachery often lurks in the shadows among our fellow peers (see: snake), here’s a belated glimpse into how your first semester will look like.
Week 1: Innocence is Bliss
As the furore of orientation camps fade into twilight, a new era in your pursuit of knowledge is ushered in. An unfamiliar path, albeit one taken by many. You walk into class (or login into zoom, oh poor you) with a purpose, an unfaltering desire to graduate with flying colours one fine day.
First week; first class, things seem easy enough. You proclaim that “class was a breeze” to anybody and everybody as you find yourself spending your 10-minute break texting your newfound friends from the various camps that you attended before the start of the term. Your classmates are too shy to speak up during class, as questions from the professor seem to fall on deaf ears. Perhaps you should have taken 5 modules instead of 4, perhaps that cute guy (or girl) will notice you, perhaps it’s an easy A+.
Perhaps innocence is indeed most blissful.
Weeks 2, 3, and 4: Fight or Flight
Where wealth inequality continues to plague the very world we are living in, you begin to notice an ominous sign of a novel disparity within your class. Weeks of witnessing a vocal select few (see: Class Part Sl*ts) answering and asking questions have driven you into a corner. Your fight or flight response has kicked in hard, operating in overdrive.
If you are easily influenced by peer pressure, congratulations. You eventually harness the untold power of the fear of missing out (FOMO), and gracefully muster your courage to speak up in class with a hint of poise embedded within.
See, it’s not that hard is it?
As the case may be, some of you might still be contented with being the quiet one watching the drama unfold before you. You watch in delight as your classmates fumble to formulate their sentences in response to the professor. Skilful articulation takes a backseat, as the hungry masses clamour for class participation points. Your reticent soul is filled with satisfaction, as you remain a proud member of the silent majority.
Weeks 5, 6, and 7: Spoilt for Choice
As you rummage through the junk folder of your email in search of the ever-elusive hyperlink which will allow you to decide the composition of the various management committees, you find yourself getting excited at the fact that you have a say in determining the future student leaders of the school. In fact, “a say” would be a severe understatement worthy of utter condemnation.
Has anyone told you that the number of votes that you have is directly proportional to the number of candidates? While our flourishing democracy adheres to the sacrosanct principle of one man one vote during national elections, we are literally “spoilt for choice” here at SMU. No wonder Microsoft Outlook filtered the emails to the junk folder. In fact, if Christian Grey were a student of SMU, he would’ve thrown so much shade at our “fever” of an election to the point that he would be left with zero by the end of the trilogy.
As the student population recovers from its election induced pyrexia, the upcoming midterms casts its shadow upon the school. You find yourself preparing for your first exam, as apprehension and dread begins to set in. As you struggle to understand the impacts of inflation on the national economy, you begin to recognise that the only material aspects of life that are experiencing an inflation are your stress levels.
Week 8 (Recess): Man Down
Not bad, good job for making it this far. Here’s your well-deserved one-week break. Have fun meeting up with your groupmates as you reluctantly fill up your recess week with project meetings.
Speaking of project groups, have you ever wondered what would happen if your project groupmate decides to drop out of school?
Recent studies have shown that the leading cause of student withdrawals is enrolment into SMU.
Imagine this: you are a productive, contributing member of a functional five-man project group formed at the start of the semester. Midway through the journey to great success, two of your group members decide that life is much better without a university degree. What happens next? A five-man job is now in the hands of three. What would your professor most likely say? #dealwithit. And what would you most likely say? [CENSORED]
Week 9,10, and 11: Causal or Casual?
CAUSAL proximity is defined as how closely or directly related the defendant's negligent act is in relation to the plaintiff. CASUAL proximity is defined as how you would like to NOT be related to that “B+” you received for the midterms, or that group project due in two weeks that has been swept under the rug by your groupmates.
Week 12,13, and 14: Pareto’s Principle
With less than a month leading up to finals, you find yourself facing a conundrum. Should you continue to study for that darned “B+” module? Or, should you focus your energy on the other ones? If we observe Pareto’s law of the vital few, 20% of effort would give rise to 80% of results… in theory. Perhaps we should be diligent and apply academic principles to our own lives - study at 20% of our usual effort, then pray that Pareto wasn’t just messing with us.
In fervent support of SMU’s curriculum designed to encourage holistic learning, allow me to share the image on the right: a versatile solution to many of life’s problems that I once received in my email inbox (Thanks Jes!).
Week 15 (Exams): The Almighty Bell Curve
You fail to realise that you are in for a nasty surprise as you make your way into the exam hall for THAT 3-hour paper (we all know which one it is). It would be 180 minutes of pure agony, as you skirmish your way through the easier questions in preparation for the ultimate showdown with the harder ones. The coup de grâce will eventually be delivered in the final question: Cash Flow Statements. You begin to lament over the fact that you singlehandedly botched any chances of doing well in that paper, and instead seek for divine intervention and hope that the bell curve god will work in your favour.
Always remember this: if you ever find yourself getting screwed by your first semester, there’s always the second. Have faith that someone will always do their worst when it comes to exams, and that the person will never be you.
I hope this article has given you an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks (and enhanced my credibility as a pleasant person). Meanwhile, I shall spend my second year looking for friends who genuinely believe that I am, in fact, the nicest person on earth.
*This article was written satirically and is not to be taken seriously. It is inspired by the true story of an accounting student.