Discovering my inner nerd

People who’ve known me since childhood know that I’ve never been an
academic geek. Who, me? Grades didn’t really matter. In fact, one of
my teachers once tsktsked and said he’d never seen such an
underachiever in his life. (Ds. In English. Sheesh. My department
chair scolded me about that.)

All of the exciting stuff in my life was extracurricular. Programming
competitions didn’t require straight As. Open source advocacy didn’t
require cum laudes. As long as I didn’t get kicked out of school, I
was fine.

I don’t know when I started to take school more seriously, but one day
I must’ve decided to see if I could do it. Just for kicks. And I did.
I decided to enjoy my Philosophy course, and that was just wonderful.
People were copying my philosophy notes. That was probably
because I was typing near-transcripts of his stuff in realtime,
although in retrospect, none of that turned out to be useful for
anything other than recognizing his classic rants. People weren’t just
downloading my notes, though. They came up to me before class and
asked me to explain passages. That was fun. =)

Hmm. Explaining stuff. That could be another factor, too. I moved into
the dorm halfway through college. Being around other people taking the
same course certainly made a difference. I loved joining group study
sessions because I could test my knowledge and help people learn
something new. Yeah, that was a key thing. Group study. I should write
about that for the On Campus magazine; that’s another key thing I want
to tell students about.

I’d like to find out if I’ve got an inner nerd. Might not be a good
idea to do that because I might end up kicking myself over the stuff I
missed before! <grin> But what’s done is done, and I haven’t
done too badly either. Graduate school’s a second chance to see if
I’ve actually got it in me to slog through textbooks and keep
everything organized. Now that I’ve got a personal opinion of myself
to live up to (and scholarships I’d like to apply for or retain!),
having fun studying certainly makes more sense.

I was really worried about statistics. See, the last time I did an
ANOVA test was in high school, and I wasn’t really paying attention
then. I’d never used Minitab (or even other statistical packages), but
after experimenting, Googling, and asking classmates for help, I
figured out how to import data and produce a couple of graphs. I
explored the features of the software and found a couple of useful
functions. I also asked my lab partner and the teaching assistant to
teach me how to interpret two-way ANOVA results. Crash course in
statistics! =) I feel confident about that part now. Next: learn about
human factors and read some of the suggested references so that I can
use their insights in the report.

You know, this studying thing can be kinda fun… =)