For those of you who go to class on any sort of consistent basis, you’ve probably noticed a disparity in the classroom behavior, general appearance and overall disposition of your fellow classmates.

For me, the beginning of the semester serves as an opportunity to make a generalized preliminary characterization of my classmates. I start off by asking myself very broad and open ended questions about the people around me. Which students in the class seem the most intelligent? As a whole, does the class seem open? Do I know any of my classmates? Are any of my classmates hot?

As the semester unfolds, my observations of the subtle nuances of each student’s behavior force me to refocus my judgments on a more individual level.

Why do I and countless others take the time to ask ourselves these questions semester after semester? Out of sheer necessity. If any of you reading this haven’t figured that out yet, you’ll probably undergo some sort of incident in class one day that will change your attitude. I too was naive for much of my freshman year, but a few traumatizing experiences later I vowed never to be caught off guard again.

Take my Chemistry 132 class the second semester of my freshman year. I had an entourage that ran eight deep accompanying me to class. Actually, those other eight people were all hallmates of mine. I was under the assumption that since they all seemed very smart and grasped the material well, they’d be good people to sit next to during class. Unfortunately, my presumptions got me into trouble.

Though my preliminary assumption about my hall mates being future chemists was right, I misinterpreted how their highly developed scientific minds would respond to the monotony of an introductory chemistry course.

Having a very average scientific mind myself, I would say that my behavioral reaction to the course was rather ordinary – I fell asleep a lot. While I was asleep one day, the great scientific minds encircling my unconscious body decided that it was time to capitalize on the fact that I slept with my mouth wide open. That was the day they started playing “Andrewball” – a great new game where you throw crumpled up pieces of paper into a sleeping man’s mouth until he begins to gag and awakens. I’m not 100 percent sure of the rules, but I believe that the person with the most paper in my mouth wins and the winner is bought lunch by all of the losers.

Therefore, it is logical to conclude that after an experience like this, I would begin asking myself questions in the beginning of the semester about the people I choose to sit around.

Though I won’t get into the specifics, believe me when I tell you that there are many other stories just like this one that have led me to where I am today.

Today is your lucky day though because I’m going to convert my pain into your opportunity. I’m going to tell you the to most important questions you need to ask yourself about the people around you and the answers to these questions.

1) Who is the best person to sit next to in class?

The short answer is that you want a good influence, but such an answer requires further explanation because a good influence in the real world is not always a good influence in class. It is important for the person to be a serious student who has a relative grasp on the material. After all, you don’t want someone asking you a question about the notes every 30 seconds.

On the other end of the spectrum, you do want someone who will be able to clarify something for you should the situation arise. Furthermore, it is essential that you have an amiable relationship with your seat buddy. You’ll want to feel comfortable enough to ask him a question here and there.

That being said, having a close friend sit next to you is the biggest mistake you can make. Take it from me, the “Andrew” part of Andrewball, that sitting next to your friends will only derail you from your intentions to study. You’ll end up talking to your friends non-stop during class. Even if you are able to get the notes and stick with the lecture, I assure you that the professor will somehow notice you talking and will make sure you pay dearly.

2) Who is the best person to get notes from in the class?

You have to ask yourself this question immediately, as in the first day of class. That way, when you realize midway through the semester that watching Law and Order SVU is not the same thing as going to your “Criminal Procedure” class, you won’t need to resort to seducing the TA. Unlike the person you sit next to in class, the person whose month worth of notes you copy should be a close friend. You have to understand that to some people, class notes are like diary entries and you never know what may happen if a diary got into the wrong hands.

When searching for someone to give you their notes, my suggestion is to think “hardworking” rather than “smart.” I made that mistake first semester freshman year. I waited until the last minute to ask the smartest guy in the class for their notes and this is how he responded, “I don’t take notes. I have a photographic memory.”

While these two guidelines won’t necessarily get you A’s, they’ll help you avoid much of the anguish that I myself experienced.

I’m sure that some of you are reading this and are wondering why I don’t let the younger students suffer and learn for themselves what I have painstakingly taken the time to tell you. If you are among this group, you are either in a fraternity, sorority or a separate club all together I like to call, the asshole club. Either way, I’ll see all of you in hell.

Schwartz can be reached at

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