Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Follow instructions

Some students believe that they are entitled to a grade of A no matter what garbage they produce.  For these students, then, actually reading instructions might seem like an unnecessary bother.

For certain other students, there may be more a of a matter of principle at stake.  These may actually read the instructions--sometimes even carefully--but may believe that flaunting directions with impunity is a great opportunity to rebel.

The truth of the matter, however, is that failure to heed instructions can have disastrous consequences.  If instead of following instructions to mark the right multiple choice answers on exam, you deliberately mark wrong ones, that could result in a very low score.  If you ignore with impunity instructions that the term paper should be on a topic relevant to the course, you might end up with a score of zero.

Refrain from hacking into good students' computers to steal their papers and other work

Often, substandard students might be tempted to hack into better students' computers--or, if they lack the competence to do this, to hire someone else to perform this morally repugnant task.  This is a stupid and shortsighted idea.

If a substandard student submits a truly excellent paper, professors will likely become suspicious.  It just does not make sense that a student who scored 37.5% on the midterm completed a paper worthy of a score of 95% or higher.  Even if the professor does not use Turnitin to detect plagiarism, he or she wold probably also notice seeing two identical--or nearly identical--papers.

Quite aside from the disciplinary consequences of submitting a stolen paper as one's own, there may also be serious criminal consequences for hacking (or hiring someone to hack).  If you think that life can't get worse after being expelled for plagiarism, just wait until the judge sentences you to spend several years in the slammer! In fact, offenders might face both state and Federal charges. On top of this, of course, these disgusting psychos might be further punished by their parents.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Arrive on time for class

Occasionally, there are reasons that justify arriving late for class.  If you have been asked by police to stay behind as a material witness to a major felony, that would probably justify not being on time.  Similarly, if you accidentally cut yourself and sustain major bleeding, a quick trip to an emergency clinic might be justified.

There are, however, a number of non-legitimate reasons for arriving late.  These are just a few:
  • Wanting to finish watching a soap opera before heading off to class.
  • Not budgeting sufficient time to get to class if there is a traffic jam or other obstacle on the way.
  • Sloth.
  • Lack of willingness to hurry.
  • Taking an unimportant phone call or completing a frivolous text message.
  • Just not feeling like being on time.
  • Waiting for a friend going to this same class or one in a neighboring classroom so that he or she will not have to walk alone.
Arriving late for class is very disruptive to the rest of the class.  In addition, it tends to mark you as a substandard student.  Being late is, in most cases, very stupid!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Do not bring large exotic or farm animals to class

Colleges and universities certainly want to encourage diversity and ensure access for individuals with disabilities. If you want to bring a seeing eye dog or cat to class, that will probably not be a problem. If you need a stuffed animal to be comfortable, that may be OK, too.

Nevertheless, professors and their institutions have to draw the line somewhere. Not only is having a seeing eye giraffe, elephant, or hippopotamus quite disruptive to the educational process; these also take up a great deal of space and, at least occasionally, cause significant damage to the buildings. Because of their obstructive qualities, these may also bring the institution out of compliance with fire and other emergency evacuation regulations. In terms of logistical concerns, those that are not properly house trained may cause serious littering problems and unpleasant odors that will interfere not only with your own learning, but also that of your classmates.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Limit contact with aliens

There is something to be said for having an open mind, so at first glance, this advice might seem disconcerting. Why should you not take the opportunity to benefit from the potential wisdom of visitors from other galaxies?

One reason is pragmatics. This type of interest can become obsessive and detract from your studies. I am not saying to shun these creatures--just limit your socializing to no more than two or three hours a week.

Another reason has to with your credibility. Although it is clearly possible--and by some accounts even probable--that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe (or, for that sake, in parallel universes), most reputable scientists doubt that these fellows have actually visited Earth lately. In addition to possible constraints of possibly not being able to break through the speed of light barrier, the time dimension throws in an additional curve. Civilization on Earth may have been around for a few thousand years and may not last beyond the next thousand years. If we go back in time from the beginning of our Universe (which, by the way, raises some problems, according to certain theoretical physicists which I do not make any claim to understand), being of by just a fraction of a percent could mean that a civilization would be missed by a large margin. The bottom line is that if you claim to be hanging out regularly with aliens, you may suffer a serious loss of credibility. Professors try to grade you only based on your work, but in borderline cases, someone who comes across as a nutcase might end up with the lower grade.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Maintain a wholesome lifestyle

Being of sound mind and body is essential to being a good student.

Watching morally marginal TV programs will pollute your character and will twist your mind away from seeking rational, ethical, and innovative approaches to business. Sleazy magazines are disgusting and will pollute your mind.

Excess alcohol consumption is damaging to both mind and body. Hangovers mean loss of time to study and contemplate course material. Illegal drugs--besides supporting organized crime and terrorists--are truly disgusting and do bad things to your body.

Foul language pollutes not just not the speaker's mind but also those of innocent listeners.

A diet of fast food may be more convenient and may--at the moment--seem more satisfying. However, for a healthy body, fruits and vegetables are critical.

Certain activities are not appropriate before marriage. Aside from this moral consideration, these activities can also entail very severe consequences.

Disturbing the peace, shoplifting, and other crimes tend to be a reflection of a deranged mind. Not only are these morally wrong--they also program your mind for a life of evil and callous disregard for the interests of society.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't gossip during class

When one has heard some really juicy stuff, it may be tempting to share that with a classmate. Some individuals may be so tempted that they will resort to do so even during an important class. You should be very sure not to fall for this temptation. While gossiping, you may miss some of your professor's words of wisdom. Gossip may also pollute your character, making you focus on scandal rather than on how you can maximize profit in an ethical manner.

Don't send stupid e-mails

There are occasions when questions might be effectively addressed through e-mail messages, but professors may understandably get annoyed if they receive frivolous e-mails or messages that would require a lengthy answer. Here are some examples of clearly inappropriate e-mails that tend to label you as a substandard and/or inconsiderate student:
  • Questions whose answers can be found in the syllabus with a little effort. Inquiries such as "When are your office hours?" or "Where is your office" can be particularly irritating.
  • Questions that would require a lengthy answer--often based on an inquiry that was only a few lines long. Such questions should be asked during office hours.
  • Inquiries about grading. To the extent that you have legitimate questions, office hours are a more suitable venue. Keep in mind that if you inquire "Why did I get such a low grade?" you probably would not find the answer "That is what your paper merited" particularly useful.
  • Stupid questions such as "I received a score of 23% on the midterm and 31% on the class project. Can I still get an A in the course?"
  • Rude, highly inconsiderate, or morally repugnant questions such as "Are we going to cover anything important in class today? I would really rather go shoplifting than sit through another boring class."
Once time, a not particularly bright student e-mailed me asking about the time of the final. I replied "See syllabus!" He replied back "Thank you."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Work hard

As I have mentioned previously in the context of studying, effort does not guarantee results. Nevertheless, a hard worker is likely to perform significantly better than a soft worker all other things being equal.

Marketing is unquestionably the most important subject you will ever study, so this is really a course in which you should apply yourself. It is important not only to be dedicated to studying, but also to put tremendous energy into your papers, projects, and other assignments.

Refrain from cheating

Many people cheat in hopes of obtaining higher grades, so this advice seems counter-intuitive. Yet, cheating is morally wrong and will, in the long run, come back to haunt you. If you get caught cheating, consequences could be serious. If the cheating is discovered after you graduate, your degree could be taken away. Cheating is also morally wrong and will greatly eat away at your character.

Many colleges are rather soft on cheaters, merely assigning a failing grade for the course. However, if you are turned over to state and/or Federal authorities for prosecution, you could face charges such as extortion by larceny. If you are foreign student, you could be deported and face punishment in your home country as well.

Honor thy marketing professor

Your marketing professor is probably among the most insightful and inspirational people you will ever meet. Such a person should be treasured and honored!

It will be helpful to think positive thoughts about your professor and recognize how fortunate you are to be able to take such a great course. This will help raise your morale so that you will be truly dedicated to the course.

You should, however, keep mind that getting carried away could backfire. Although it would clearly make sense to post a nice banner in your room saying that "My marketing professor is a genius!" wearing a T-shirt with that message to class might come across as a clumsy attempt at ingratiation. Wearing a T-shirt saying that "My marketing professor is better than your marketing professor!" unnecessarily brings attention to the fact that although some marketing professors exude superhuman wisdom, others are merely highly gifted.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Refrain from texting or surfing the Internet during class

Many individuals believe that they can readily multi-task and that it is productive to text or surf the Internet during class. The reality--as borne out by exam scores--however, is that many individuals vastly over-estimate the learning that occurs when only partial attention is given to your professor's wisdom. It is also important to keep in mind that the psychological trauma--which may occur at the unconscious level--of being an incredibly rotten psychopath who disturbs his or her classmates and shows the professor great disrespect can be so devastating that intellectual function is greatly impaired.

Being a surfing psycho is antithetical to being a good student!

Write thoughful and insightful exam answers

I strongly recommend not writing "Who cares?" as a response to an exam question.

Study hard and often

Although studying hard does not guarantee high grades, it certainly increases the likelihood that you will understand the material.

It is also important to keep in mind that spaced learning--learning spread over several occasions over time--tends to be more effective than intensive study sessions right before the exam.

Attend class regularly

One of my favorite sayings is that "Missing classes is not just iffy--it could be Ffy!"

There are certainly occasional circumstances when a student will need to miss a class for legitimate reasons. As I recall, I miss class twice while in college.

This, however, does not mean that missing classes frequently--or without legitimate reason--is an acceptable choice. Failure to attend class represents both moral failure and failure to perform.

Have a Good Meal Before Exams

Back in college, I took a course in nutrition. The professor had worked with NASA while a doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley to develop meals for astronauts going into space.

NASA learned the hard way that ground control had to order the astronauts to take time for a meal while up in space. Many astronauts had reasoned that they would have plenty of time to eat once they returned to earth and that time up in space was precious. Therefore, many opted to forgo regular eating, focusing instead on getting their experiments done. Although at first glance that strategy certainly seemed reasonable, it was discovered that the mental performance of food deprived astronauts would actually decline significantly. These astronauts were making a lot of careless errors, actually ruining--or greatly reducing the value of--many of the very experiments that they were sacrificing their comfort to attack undisturbed. A policy was instituted to ensure that meals would not be skipped.

It can be tempting to squeeze in as much remaining time as possible before an exam to study. As shown above, this strategy can backfire very badly. Taking out time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner before the exam is well worth it.


This week, I attended the annual conference of the Marketing Educators' Association. In one session, the idea of a blog entitled How to Get Good Grades in Marketing came up. What the presenter had in mind was not exactly this type of blog, but here we go...!