February 28, 2012

BIG RED AMBITION: #25. Bomb a Prelim, #26. Ace the next one to save your grade and #9. Take Psych 1101

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So, we all go to Cornell. We got in, were amazed by how smart we must be and then, boom — prelims begin. Suddenly, we are reminded that there always must be that bottom 50 percent, and we are no longer part of the upper half. This brings me to #25 (Bomb a prelim) and #26 (Ace the next one to save your grade) whilst taking Psych 1101 (hello #9).

After hearing Dave Price ’87 speak at ILR Orientation (I’m not actually in ILR, but I could fool a lot of people), I learned the best way to navigate college is to figure out what work is not necessary. So, I did what any logical person would do and decided that the vast majority of reading assignments were extraneous and not worth my time.

In my defense, I had heard many a tale of people who took Psych 1101, did nothing more than practice test questions the night before the exam, and got A+++s. Unfortunately, I am not a beneficiary of that level of academic excellence, and as I checked my test against the online answer key, I was in utter disbelief. At the time, I was not too excited about being able to check off #25 and neither were my parents. I remember sitting in the Ag Quad with my friend, R, listening to her try to convince me that there must be some reason I got into Cornell. At that point in time, though, I think both of us thought my acceptance was a glitch in the system.

Due to my inexperienced and naïve freshman status, I didn’t drop the course — rookie mistake, I know. I persisted, tried to get my eight hours of sleep (thank you Dr. Maas), and started begrudgingly completing some of the readings. The problem was this prelim was largely focused on Dr. Maas’s book Power Sleep. I don’t know if anyone else had this problem, but reading about sleep debts made me, well, really sleepy. I’d read a bit about how sleeping aided cognitive abilities and how more sleep is positively correlated with higher test scores. Once again, logical conclusion: put the book down and get some sleep. To be perfectly honest, I cannot remember the last time I was as well-rested as I was while “reading” Power Sleep. “Reading” is used loosely and really means having a book open when going to sleep. Needless to say, I was following Dr. Maas’s advice for how to improve my grades, so I expected nothing less than to rock the next test and, comparatively speaking, I aced that bad boy.

I would never recommend bombing a prelim, but Big Red Ambition requires a few sacrifices now and again. Word to the wise, though, take advantage of add/drop — like I said, rookie mistake.

Jaime Freilich is a junior in the College of Human Ecology. She may be reached at jfreilich@cornellsun.com. Big Red Ambition appears on Wednesdays.

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Original Author: Jaime Freilich