Hunger Games 102


Alexa Geidel

Over-tabbed, coffee-stained, and pre-owned, my college textbooks serve as my weapon of choice in winning an ‘A’ in my current English online class. College courses are a hard battle to fight, but they can only help you grow as a person and student.

Alexa Geidel, Editor-In-Chief

Thirty two go in. Only one comes out. And I plan to be that one.

As I take the fateful plunge into finals week for my second college class, English 102: Rhetorical Argumentative Writing, it dawns on me that I’ve seen this play out before. I know the routine: a bunch of kids are thrown into a battle together, each week a few cannons go off, and before you know it, you’re staring into the gritty, exhausted, MLA-formatted-out face of the other final competitor. The similarities sang so close. I knew what this was. My online English class had turned into the Hunger Games.

I was the runt from the start. As if I had strutted in from the hellacious gates of District 12, I couldn’t seem to get much right. I felt as if everything I did was wrong, and boy was I detestable about it. I decided to just stir up more trouble and aggravate the wounds I had opened with the professor, because I was thinking along the lines of YOLO. I figured I wouldn’t make it out alive anyway, might as well go out with a bang.

But to my astonishment, and probably the professor’s as well, I found a talent in my argumentativeness. Now this isn’t the heated debate-type argument, but rather the defining of a claim and criterion to back up your reasoning for an opinion – basically how to make yourself look right. Maybe through all of the back-and-forth clamor with the teacher over instant messaging, with perhaps little credit due to the coursework, I caught on to this whole arguing thing. I mean I have always been an ardent arguer, a logomaniac in many ways; I can twist my assertions into an exotic vine that can choke the positions out of anyone who tries to outfox me. But gosh, I never knew I could get college credit for it! There were points when it got out of hand, I would speak out of turn and cause a disruption in the relationship I was trying so hard to get right with the professor. I was blinded by passion and the need to be impressive. I was control-hungry and I always had to be right, but my argumentation skills needed more work before I could make my success the turning point in the game.

Then there were other times, as I got more comfortable with the class that I became the sponsor favorite. I was like a career during this stage. Not a homework assignment got anything under 100%. Not a teacher comment excluded the phrase “This is very thorough work. Good job!” I was beginning to understand the balance of getting the work done, appealing to the teacher, and conducting myself with grace and a polite willingness to overcome my challenges. Before, I felt that some of the fires I set ablaze with the teacher forced her to harbour some sort of animosity toward me, but I soon came to understand that by doing outstanding work, it would be impossible for her to hate me. I discovered the secret to success. It was all about making them love you.

I also recognized that I had to stop making excuses for myself. No one in the real world cares that I attend two completely polar opposite schools, am only 17, and am struggling with the entire balancing act. No one cares. I had to learn that the hard way. No matter the extent or drama of my plea, my teacher would not budge. So I simply had to stop. There was no more room in my life for the stress of not getting what I wanted. So began my period of merciless work ethic. I’ve been so motivated since then, and now, when the final day is within sight, I am pushing harder than ever. I’m so close I can taste it and this is the most important class of my life to date. I refuse to mess this up.

Once I got over the whole megalomaniac thing, I was able to harvest my true potential. I was so caught up in being right and getting what I wanted that I neglected to recognize that I could learn things in this class, not only about argumentative writing, but about myself. Despite the obvious mountains I had to scale, the class was truly an experience I am glad I didn’t pass up. This class forced me into situations that high school hasn’t up until this point. No matter how much I begged my mother to let me drop out, I am glad I didn’t. I couldn’t back out of this; it would be giving up.

So I guess the moral of the story is, taking chances with your education can be worth it. I let hesitation, enmity, and negative assumptions bog me down for the bulk of the class. I clipped my own wings. Investing your time in a difficult course tests you morally and intellectually, and I think that’s the only way to grow as a person and a student. By stretching yourself in the classroom, or online for that matter, lets you test the waters and get out of the comfortable bubble you have built for yourself heretofore. Not only that, but I believe that taking college courses demonstrates the enterprise you have in education and makes you more attractive as an asset to a company or school. Not everyone can handle the pressures of college, especially while juggling a full-time high school schedule, probably a job, and some sort of social life. Taking college courses will advance you as a person and force you to demonstrate aspects of your character that you never knew you had in store. Personally, I learned the hard way that my fierce desire to learn everything as quickly and thoroughly as possible could sometimes come off as aggressive and abrasive, which didn’t go over well with the teacher. I was able to apply the corrections I was making in the world of online college in my real world, and my time there served as a test drive more or less so I can avoid the naive mistakes I made when I embark on my real college experience.

Once I put my head down, I could drown out all the imperfections and dissatisfactions surrounding my classmates. As I raise my head from the sand, I look around to an empty arena. I never even heard the cannons firing. But now I appear to be the sole victor. I have won the Hunger Games. I have made it through English 102 online.