Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I attended Winona State University in the early 90's. Here's a beautiful picture of the campus in winter time:

One thing I liked about college is that you could sit anywhere you wanted in the classes. I've always enjoyed sitting in the back row and off to the side. That way, the number of people that can stare at me is kept to an absolute minimum. In the rear, I don't have to be concerned about people talking behind me, distracting from what the professor has to say.

It's been generally proven that those who sit the closest to the front tend to get the highest grades and vice versa for those who sit in the rear. I was a happy exception to this rule as I didn't let sitting back there distract me in any way from what the teacher had to say. My eyesight was perfect, so I had no problem seeing the board from 30 feet away.

One of the most boring college classes I ever had was Human Resources. Not only was the subject matter incredibly dry, but the teacher totally spoon-fed us the book (she didn't lecture so much as just read the chapters to us). To make matters worse, we had to sit in a circle as if we were about to play musical chairs. One afternoon, I couldn't take it anymore, so took an earbud out of my pocket and placed it in my right ear (which faced away from the teacher). I pressed play on my cassette player and listened to a number of country tunes (my favorite genre at the time). That made things a tad more tolerable. A couple people noticed me doing this, but didn't say anything. I'm definitely not the only one who was put to sleep by her. Check out these quotes from her RateMyProfessor page:

"She is so boring! Never actually worked in the industry, so really has no valid teaching experience. Reads right out of the book."
"She makes dirt seem more exciting than this class. She curses like a sailor and rambles."
"Very boring. She will put you to sleep. She can be witty and a little funny at times but dry as hell."
"She is the most boring, old fashioned hag I've ever met."
"Her lecture notes are so old that the paper has a yellow tinge to it."
"She treats you like you're in grade school...every other seat or different color tests so you don't cheat!!! She's a weirdo alright"
"When she talks, watch out, don't sit in the front, cause when she says it, she sprays it as well!"

One class that I still can't believe I made it through was Statistics II. I had to drop it one quarter because I came down with depression. About a year later, I had to take it again, but all they had available was an 8am class twice a week that lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes. Being able to drag my ass to that class every Tuesday and Thursday is something I'm proud of to this day. The man who taught it is actually the husband of the woman who taught the Human Resources class described above. Here's his RateMyProfessor page and some choice quotes from it (you'll notice a pattern start to form):

"Likes to crack jokes just to wake ppl up at 7.30 in the morning"
"Pretty good Prof. He has a nice curve so you should be able to get a B. You'll get a C for sure."
"He likes to make a lot of jokes that occasionally end in awkward silences."
"A mad scientist I say! So many little quirks and idiosyncracies. Awesome guy and fairly easy. Sometimes lectures on a masters level, but doesn't test on it. Makes jokes about material and no one understood it enough to find it funny!"
"The guy tries to have fun in class but he says jokes that no one laughs at because they can't feel their arm from writing notes constantly for an hour and a half."
"Jokes are definitely odd...just laugh and he'll move on..."


Rocketstar said...

I always tried to sit up front because i would be less likely to fall asleep.

Sarah said...

all of this detailed info and what jumped out at me was the passing comment "...because I came down with depression." like it's the flu or something. i like to think i know a little about depression and i just find this description of it to be very strange.

that is all.

Sarah said...

oh yeah, and i was a front of the room person too - i wouldn't pay attention otherwise.

Brian said...

I completely forgot about RateMyProfessor. I need to go back to that site. In high school, I was a loser, sat in the back and slept.

In college, I usually sat in the middle and did pretty well overall.

Thomas said...

Rocket & Sarah, those are very good reasons to sit up front.

Sarah, the "coming down with depression" comment was my attempt to shed a bit of humor on the typically dark subject of depression.

I wrote quite extensively about what I experienced all those years ago in two posts which you can read here:


and here:


Brian, I'm actually on the RateMyProfessor website right now looking at the scores that some of my other teachers received. This would've been great to have 15 years ago, but, alas, the Internet was still in its infancy.

Timothy Smith said...

Great story Tom! I consider WSU my second home. Great picture by the way. I will have to visit the campus when I come up for a visit. Thanks again.

houstonmacbro said...

I hated Statistics too.

Eric Curtis said...

Great story! I was always a stay-in-the-back person myself. I didn't have a problem paying attention, and I've always hated having people behind me. The same thing goes for the movie theater.

Dämmerung Anblick said...

I was a back row guy until the beer migraines started to impact my eyesight. Then i became a keener.

Quit drinking too.

As for Sarah's comments, actually some people do come down with depression. I mean it is a disease, right? It's just not viral like a flu. Or at least I don't think that that's been proven anyway.

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

I always had to sit at the front...I'm easily distracted. I hated Statistics, luckily I only had to take one class-not two.


Brian said...

Did you find any interesting ratings? I would have also loved to have this back in the day. Ms. Collet, my English teacher in HS, would have gotten some very colorful reviews by me. :)

Thomas said...

Tim, seeing that some of my old professors are still teaching makes me wanna sit in on one of their classes for old times sake. I'd love to see if the jokes my Stats professor is making are as bad as they were when Clinton was in office.

Houston, Geometry was over my head as well.

Eric, I used to always sit way in the back at movie theatres, but grew tired of the teeny-boppers texting people during the movie, so now sit near the front where they can't distract me. I also lean down in the seat so it's difficult to hear if anyone is talking behind me.

Dammerung, I've never heard of beer migraines before. You learn something new every day.

Sil, good to hear you didn't have to endure as much as I.

Brian, the thing I like most about the website is it reminds me of various characteristics my professors had, but which I'd forgotten about (the jokes my Stats prof would tell).

Brian said...

Yeah, no doubt they were funny to see. I was trying to find ratings for my professors and compare them to my experiences.