It’s the first day of class. You walk into Bailey Hall and enter into your oversized Intro to Oceanography course. The rakish professor, Bruce Monger, casts his penetrating gaze on you. He peers into your soul and instantly divines your stance on climate change and your innermost secrets. Unnerved but not surprised (you’ve heard the tales about Bruce), you glance about for what will be your unofficially assigned seat for the rest of the semester. You know it’s an important moment. Whether you care or not, where you sit will determine your image in the eyes of your classmates for the rest of the semester. So, what will it be?
Well, you have a couple of choices. You can sit toward the front, in the center, or toward the back. You can sit with the boys, alone, in the middle of the row, or in a seat bordering the aisle. An agonizingly fraught decision. As conventional wisdom goes, your choice strongly correlates with your personality. That wisdom is, as is usually the case with anecdotal advice, unequivocally true. Let’s run through the possibilities here, shall we?
The True Scholar
Sometimes it can be difficult to find True Scholars at Cornell. You know, the people who always know the answer to everything and ace every test. They’re the ones smiling at the teacher’s hilarious wisecracks, the ones endearing themselves to their classmates with every probing question. They’re the intellectual “big men on campus,” if you will.
You can look far and wide for these people, but the best place to find them is in the front row of a lecture hall. If you see a guy in a sweater and khakis chilling in the front, watch out, because you know he’s got a dangerous mind.
The Joe Schmoes
If you want your run-of-the-mill, intelligent Cornellian, you’ll find him chilling in the middle of the lecture hall. He does his work on time, diligently enough, but he’ll never go above and beyond. Those in the middle of the hall will be taking notes. At the same time, though, they will definitely find time to make wisecracks with the boys (or the girls). They’ll be goofing off, but in a very scholarly manner. To cultivate the best image in the eyes of your classmates and professor, you want to be in this crowd.
The James Deans
Hold on to your notepads, because it’s always a wild ride with the boys in the back. Enter the back row, and prepare to be greeted with a row of dudes scrolling through their Instagram feeds or catching some Z’s. These are indisputably the coolest guys on campus. They just exude the right combination of “I don’t care about this class” and “I’m too smart to pay attention.”
For those who can get good grades without actually listening to the professor or being able to see the slides, the back is the place to be. It’s simply top-notch use of your parents’ money.
This is the wild card of Cornell students. Watch out for the boys who switch seats every lecture; they’re the most dangerous people you’ll meet here. They scoff at law and order. They embrace chaos and depravity. You’ll have sat in the same seat for two months, walk into lecture, and find your beloved home taken by one of these fellows. Be on your guard, and avoid them at all costs.
Wherever you choose to sit, just know that it is imperative to your academic performance to pick the right place. Where you sit in your lecture hall will make or break your classroom image. The people you sit next to will affect your performance. Choose wisely.
Christian Baran is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. Honestly runs every other Friday this semester. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.