My Glasses Are Not Held Together With Tape, Honest.
October 28, 2009 6:35 PM   Subscribe

I've just returned to college as a mature student and I'm doing really, really well (marks in the low to high 90s, for the most part). I'm proud of myself but I have no idea how to interact with my classmates who aren't doing as well without sounding like a complete jerk. I don't have experience with this! I could use some advice or etiquette. There have been some... incidents.

Some details that might help:

This is the first time I've ever done really well in school, despite being a so-called "gifted" child - I've always been the sort who either had to do well naturally or I just didn't bother to try. I was kicked out of university when I was in my early 20s and I later dropped out of other college courses. My good marks this time around aren't due to some form of magic; it's a combination of hard work, effort, obsessive attention to detail and a sheer determination to do my best in a program that's really meaningful to me.

The college program I'm in is highly competitive (they accepted 40-ish students out of more than 700 applicants in our small city). The students are an even mix of adults (our oldest student is in her late 50s, I believe) and recent high-school graduates, and all have a combination of intelligence, experience, and did well on the interviews, references and essays required for admission. I get along well with most of my classmates and would consider a few of them to be actual friends.

The problem is that I keep having awkward conversations that, thanks to my previous academic slacking, I have no idea how to handle.

For example:

Her: I heard you got 98% on the exam.
Me: Yes.
Her: I failed. I mean, really, WHO would know the answer to X and Y?!
Me: ...

I have no idea what to say. Every possible response seems either condescending ("Maybe you should study harder/differently next time?") or like I'm gloating ("REALLY?! You didn't know?!") or just plain awkward ("Oh, well, um.. hey, I like your shoes!"). So I basically stand there silently and inwardly freak out about that silence.

It gets worse.

If I try to give a response along the lines of, "Oh, that sucks. I'm sorry." there are a few people who will say, "YOU don't have to worry about it! YOU are doing really well!" .. which is true, but.. again, I'm working my ass off. SAYING that, however, makes me sound like a jerk because they're probably working their asses off too. My response, then, is to basically stammer something and try to escape.

Wait, there's more!

I have a good relationship, I feel, with the core professors in my program. They seem to recognize that I'm working hard and that I try to contribute meaningfully in class (we're partially graded on classroom participation). It's not uncommon for a prof to say something like, "Good answer, VioletU!" or "The rest of you should consider what she's saying, too.." which makes my little heart glow, of course, but I can see why my classmates might not always be thrilled.

Me: Wow, that class was pretty rough today, huh?
Him: Yeah, well, Prof X thinks you're just plain amazing so you don't have to worry about THAT.
Me: ...

I need the profs to like me as much as possible - they're responsible for my grades, for pete's sake, not to mention my field placements, references, etc. But I'm not sucking up; I legitimately find the classes interesting and want to participate.

I don't want to spend the next 1.5 years being the student everyone hates, however.

I can't hide my achievements, as marks are fairly open to everyone and it's a small class. As the term goes on, I'm hearing more "Smartypants!" and "Brain!" comments and I'm worried it'll become more negative. Any thoughts as to how I can keep achieving without making my classmates hate me? How to respond to the sorts of comments above?
posted by VioletU to Education (55 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Well, what can I say?"

That's a good out, I've found.

Understand something: You haven't done anything wrong that you need to apologize for. A person who is failing, who puts you on the spot like that, is doing something wrong. You don't owe them any explanations, and you don't owe them any excuses.

There isn't anything you can do to make your classmates like you except to start failing, like they are -- and it isn't worth that.

Feynman's motto through his whole life was something his first wife said to him: "What do you care what they think?"
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:38 PM on October 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


I believe this is a fairly common phenomenon-- the Mature, Returning Student Who's Actually Serious About Doing Well.

If you encounter envious remarks, just say something about how you've learned to study hard and you don't party like you used to... and like the questioner probably does.

In this way, the listener will be flattered to be seen as some sort raging hedonist and Avatar of Youth, your humility is established, and any hostility is defused.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:42 PM on October 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


Any sort of dynamic where there's a measurable difference in academic success can be super awkward -- i.e. about grad school, "I could never do that!" Where do you take the conversation from there?

Maybe some self-deprecation with a healthy dollop of outright lying can help... like "Well, I have no social life, so I got nothing better to do than study on Friday nights!" (On Preview: what darth_tedious said).
posted by spiderskull at 6:45 PM on October 28, 2009


I get this too, sometimes. I slack way too much, but I'm always the first one to leave the room in the final exams, the only one who "got" PROLOG, etc. – I think really, really fast. Much faster than the other kids, and it can get uncomfortable for them it seems.

I think they actually admire you. Just act like a part of the team, be the "brain", just accept the position and that it's not a bad thing. Laugh about it. Point at your braincase and do some funny noises next time someone asks.

The natural friendship stuff will kick in during the next weeks also as everybody gets to know each other, and any interactions will be more mutual and, yeah, friend-ly.

Just be a gentle amicable Super Electric Brain. It's OK. Obladi.
posted by krilli at 6:46 PM on October 28, 2009


Just be friendly. Being a smart isn't bad but being a smart jerk isn't. Sure, some may still resent you but that is because they are jealous--who wouldn't want higher grades if they could get them? My suggestion in the case where people say things like ...

Her: I heard you got 98% on the exam.
Me: Yes.
Her: I failed. I mean, really, WHO would know the answer to X and Y?!
Me: ...

is for you to tell them what information you felt most helpful. You could say things like, "Yeah that was tough one...I was pretty lucky to get it. I found studying in X book or looking at X resource to be pretty helpful, though." Or maybe, "You know, I only knew the answer because I went to the review session. Those are pretty helpful, if you haven't been to one." Or, if you are feeling generous and/or don't mind this you could always say, "That was a tough question. You know, this Thursday I'll be in the library around 7pm if you have free time you can stop by and maybe we can work on reviewing the lectures together."

So I guess what I'm trying to say is don't take it personally and when people do say things to you like that just be kind, sympathize, and maybe if it is appropriate offer some sort of scholarly advice.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 6:46 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Her: I heard you got 98% on the exam.

I can't hide my achievements, as marks are fairly open to everyone and it's a small class.

I don't understand this. How are marks fairly open to everyone? Is the professor sharing the grades? Small class has nothing to do with it. Maybe I'm missing some part, because my grades have always been mine to share.

If you've been mentioning them, stop. Make sure that people can't see your grade when you get papers back. If someone asks you how you did, just say "Oh, I did pretty well. But that essay question was a killer, huh?"
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:48 PM on October 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Look, they're just your classmates. One of the advantages that you have as a nontraditional student is that you're not expected to draw your entire social circle from this pool of people. So don't worry about what they think of you.

I know, I know, easier said than done, but really... Your best strategy might just be to embrace this. You are talented; you are hard-working; you are the highest-achieving student in this class. Time to grow comfortable with that role. Once you start wearing that confidence, well, they're going to have to deal with you on your terms, right? And if they "hate you" for doing well, that's their problem.

I mean, the natural answer to the question "WHO would know the answer to X and Y?!" should be "VioletU", right?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:49 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


... and smile!: http://ask.metafilter.com/116307/Rocky-burst-in-and-grinning-a-grin

For humor, see also: http://ask.metafilter.com/50418/Smile-I-just-dont-feel-like-it
posted by krilli at 6:51 PM on October 28, 2009


It's easy enough to attribute negative attributes to people, most of whom you probably haven't interacted with yet. If you keep focusing on the negatives, they will loom larger in your mind until you are going to feel really outcast.
Try dwelling on positives. Here's an example: when my friend wants to start ragging about his wife or family problems, I simply change the subject to something more positive. His problems are mostly in his mind and allowing them to be a topic simply makes our conversation less interesting.
In those conversations you quoted, you could have said something upbeat like "I'm sure you'll do better next time" or "here's how I figured that one out" or "if you need any study tips, let me know." Most folks are simply looking for solidarity.
If someone is is trying to pwn you then ignore them, totally or at least ignore their comment. Banish it from your consciousness. Then go hang out with other successful people in your class. That's how I got through school. Peer pressure trumps almost everything, so hang out with people who are as good as you or hopefully better.
posted by diode at 6:52 PM on October 28, 2009


It won't do any harm to assure them that tests are kind of arbitrary and really you only do so well because you are boring so you study for lack of anything better to do.

When confronted by people demanding to know how I could possibly seem so smart I just tell them I sit around reading the encyclopedia since I don't get invited to any parties. If they press the point I let them know that I barely graduated highschool and have worked entry level manual labor jobs my whole life.

The key is to acknowledge any compliment while defusing any sense you are full of yourself by revealing or even exaggerating any flaws that could go with the complementary comment, or demurring and contradicting the compliment as appropriate.
posted by idiopath at 6:55 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


What about offering to have a study session or sharing your notes? Something like, "Well, if you ever want to have a study session or swap notes, let me know. I bet it would be helpful for both of us." Of course, only say this if you would be willing to do this, and you are certainly under no obligation to do so. Really this is coming from a place of envy and just plain rudeness, but I have found academic generosity and a stated appreciation of others work can go a long way to shut that kind of behavior down. Good luck and congratulations on doing so well!
posted by katemcd at 6:55 PM on October 28, 2009


I'm going through something very similar right now. I'm doing well this time around in school, mostly, because I have practically no social life and no job, so I dedicate my time to either a) being a dad, or b) studying.

I try not to discuss specific grades. I talk about performance only when asked, and then only in relative terms. I did better than I thought. I didn't do as well as I was hoping. I spent too much time preparing for the multiple choice and not enough time for the essay portion.

When I was an undergrad between 18 and 22 years old, I remember the few mature students (non-traditional students) in my classes doing exceptionally better than me. Now that I'm a non-traditional student, it's not hard to see why I'm doing so much better than last time. School is a priority. My grades are a priority. Being prepared for class and for tests is a priority. Really, it's that simple.

You don't have to justify your performance to anyone. You can respond like I do, you can say "Well, what can I say?" or you can say "Yeah, I studied my fucking ass off Saturday night instead of partying. I'm really trying to make an A in this class because I think grad schools are going to value my performance here, and I'm thinking in the long term."

You're not making your classmates hate you. They can choose how they respond to your performance.

If you're feeling exceptionally charitable, you could extend an open invitation to a study session before the next exam. Well, I'll be reviewing for this test on the third floor of the library between 6:00pm and 9:00pm if anyone wants to drop by. But seriously, as long as there's no curve then there's absolutely no justifiable reason they have to resent you (and even then, it's a level playing field, fuck 'em).

Congrats on doing well on your return to school. It's weird enough being a non-traditional student. Don't make it more awkward for yourself by second guessing your success.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:56 PM on October 28, 2009


I don't think that there's much you can do. It's not like you're the one bring it up. But how do they know your exact exam scores? Do the profs announce them when they hand them back; maybe you could ask them to refrain. But it just sounds like they (or at least those that are approaching you) are insecure and jealous. I suppose that you could offer to be part of a study group with them, but frankly they'll probably just drag you down. I don't think that it's worth it.

Otherwise, since you are a mature student and I imagine that you are not hanging out in the dorms with the other student, do you need to interact with these people outside of class? Can you just come in right before class starts and leave immediately after it ends so they don't have the chance to corner you to discuss the exams? Any other mature students doing well that you can buddy up with? It's unlikely that you'll need or ever have to see these people again after you graduate and it's just another 1.5 years of your life and it will fly by. I know, easier said than done. I don't like it when I feel that people don't like me, even people that I don't like! But as chocolate pickle said your only other option is to start doing poorly to fit in.
posted by kaybdc at 6:57 PM on October 28, 2009


I am in a similar situation, although in my program I am next to the youngest, with a much higher ratio of older (40s-50s) students. I'm 26. Most of the comments I get (even from the other students who are doing well) is that it must be easier for me, because I am younger. I find this offensive because it negates the huge amount of work I actually do. I'm like you, I never really tried hard in school before and always had average grades.
Anyway, besides the anecdote, I do actually have something to say. Make a huge point, HUGE, to not share your grades with your classmates. It's nobody's business. Obviously you're not trying to broadcast your class standing to the others, so why not keep it to yourself. This can be hard when someone directly asks you, but I think it's important.
Q: "How'd you do on that test?"
A: "I feel pretty good about it." or "I think I did ok" There's no need to lie or to elaborate.
It's tempting to cut down on the class participation, but I wouldn't, especially considering the grade implications. My classes are smaller, and I have occasionally been told by the professor to be quiet and let someone else answer :) This doesn't hurt my feelings because I know they know I'm participating.
Just remind yourself, you're here to learn something that is fascinating and that you are passionate about. Be proud of yourself for working hard and doing well. You're not there to be best friends with the whole class.
One last thought to throw out there: Are you sure the you've been hearing are actually negatively meant? I find there's a lot of affectionate teasing coming from my classmates (but maybe that's a product of them all being old enough to be my mom); they seem proud of me.
posted by purpletangerine at 6:57 PM on October 28, 2009


I can't hide my achievements, as marks are fairly open to everyone and it's a small class.
Missed that.
posted by purpletangerine at 6:59 PM on October 28, 2009


Her: I heard you got 98% on the exam.
Me: Yes.
Her: I failed. I mean, really, WHO would know the answer to X and Y?!
Me: ...


The students you're talking to, are screwing up just like you did when you were their age. Use that fact to connect with them. Here's how you could have finished that conversation.

Her: I heard you got 98% on the exam.
Me: Yes.
Her: I failed. I mean, really, WHO would know the answer to X and Y?!
Me: I know what you mean. I learned how to study the hard way -- I failed out of college when I was your age.
Her: Really? No way!
Me: Yes, I did.
Her: I can't believe that, you're so smart!
Me: You are, too. Once you've been out of school for a while, you start to realize that there's nothing magic about doing well in school. If you'd like to have coffee sometime, I'll be happy to share my thoughts about how to do well in this class.

etc., etc.

I LOOOOOOVED older students when I was in college. They always had the best notes, and they organized study groups. If an older student organized a study group, I attended it without fail.
posted by jayder at 7:01 PM on October 28, 2009 [22 favorites]


PLEASE don't follow some of the above advice. You should never imply anything like "You don't get good grades because (x)." No one would find it flattering to have someone imply that they did poorly because they party rather than study. How would you even know? Maybe they studied hard and they can't afford school so they work 2 jobs and... you get the point.

Just try to disarm the conversation. If they're talking about how hard a subject is, a good response would be: "Yeah, I found that really hard too! But it helped me a lot to realize that {key insight they might be missing}." ("Joyce is hard? Yeah, tell me about it. But I found this annotated guide online that explains a lot of it, it has been really helpful.")

It's great to be smart, it's not that the other students dislike you because you're smart. It's just that you don't know the appropriate ways to respond to them, so you're coming across not so well. (Obviously you've realized this, as per your question.) You can make it your goal to be that smart person who everyone likes because they're so humble about it - not falsely modest, just aware that people have different strengths.

When you can, try to talk to fellow students about non-academic things. Talk about what movies you like during breaks, or compliment someone before class, or ask about what music they're listening to. Just make friends and show genuine interest in them. It's going to be harder for people to dislike you if you're "Violet who shares my love of Mad Men" rather than "Violet who the professor looooves."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:01 PM on October 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't think you've done or said anything wrong from the stories you've told. Honestly, your classmates are the ones being awkward and wildly inappropriate. Which means:

1) You can't prevent awkward moments from happening; don't try by saying something like "Maybe you should study harder/differently next time," which will legitimately come off as patronizing and awful. Just smile and laugh uncomfortably and move on. I think we're sort of socialized to avoid awkward moments as much as possible, but if you let the awkwardness shine through then it might be a conversation people avoid with you in the future.

2) Over the long term, make it clear to your classmates that you don't like discussing marks. I know this depends somewhat on the student culture, but to some extent you can probably avoid it. I hate (HATE) discussing exams and assignments after they've happened (if I've rocked them, because I feel awkward having the kinds of interactions you've described, and if I didn't because I don't want to think about it anymore), so I tend to avoid the people in my class right after the big test. I'll just go home and watch TV for a while, and they'll all bitch and moan to each other about how easy/hard it was or what did you get on problem 6 and get it out of their systems. I also don't think it's out of line to say, "Hey, listen, I hate discussing grades/assignments/tests after the fact, we do school all day."

3) Unless the people calling you "smarty-pants" and "brain" are really jerks, they probably assume that you'll take it as a compliment. An awkward, awkward compliment.

4) Realize that when people say wildly inappropriate things like that, it's not really about you. They're stressed and feeling bad about something that's happening to them, and they want to rant to someone about it. People really like talking about themselves. They either don't realize or don't care that it's putting you in an uncomfortable position, so you'll just have to roll with it as best you can. Smile and nod. Look sympathetic. Realize that you haven't done anything wrong by doing well, so treat the interaction as you would a long rant by the old women in your building whose grandson's boss is (gasp!) making him work weekends.
Don't - and I think this is key - don't feel the need to respond. Don't offer advice, don't explain your good grades, don't talk about yourself at all. Just nod and frown and say "oh" and "yeah" and "that's fair" and "I could see that" and "sure."
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:03 PM on October 28, 2009


I forgot. To be more helpful, some ideas for appropriate responses:

Her: I heard you got 98% on the exam.
Me: Yes
Her: I failed. I mean, really, WHO would know the answer to X and Y?!
Me: Oh man, I'm sorry to hear that. [Or a sympathetic smile + shrug or something. I usually say something like, at least there's another test... but some people don't take the hint and keep talking about how they're failing. I assume they just want to vent and don't want platitudes.]

Me: Wow, that class was pretty rough today, huh?
Him: Yeah, well, Prof X thinks you're just plain amazing so you don't have to worry about THAT.
Me: [sheepish smile] Yeah it's kind of awkward, huh... last time I went to college I had a really hard time, so this time I'm trying really hard to pick up the slack, you know?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:09 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle is right that you have nothing to be sorry about—there's nothing wrong with being successful. But to me, this looks like a big red flag:

Her: I heard you got 98% on the exam.

How did she know you got 98% on the exam? Because you bragged about it to someone else, and you did it memorably enough that whoever you bragged to told her (and maybe other people). There is almost never a reason to go around telling people the specific grade you got on a test unless you're bragging—even if you don't put huge stock in test scores yourself, it makes you seem like you enjoy the admiration of people who think a 98% on an exam makes you more worthy of respect. That makes you sound like a complete jerk. The best way to avoid sounding like a complete jerk is to avoid getting yourself into situations where people are already expecting you to be one. Not bragging about your success would help.

Don't brag about your test scores. If someone asks how you did on a test, say you did really well, you did better than you expected, you lucked out and found it easier than you thought, you were glad you spent so much time studying [whatever topic], etc. You don't say: "I got 98%! What about you?"

Also, if it turns out that you did much better than someone else, and you think you know why you did so well, tell them: offer a tip for studying. This attributes your success to a particular study technique instead of your supposed natural "giftedness". And it could, you know, actually help that person—so you can be nice instead of being a jerk.
posted by k. at 7:10 PM on October 28, 2009


Short answer:
When someone tells you a problem they missed, tell them something you missed. Unless you're getting 100% on everything, you're making at least some mistakes. Answer the spirit, not the letter.

Longer answer:

I think you're letting your success go to your head and creating problems out of nothing.

I was a mature student doing well too. For me there just wasn't any bridging the gap; the closest person I had of the "proper" age really only wanted me to buy beer for him. Lots of people make friends in classes but I didn't live in the dorms, I had other responsibilities, I didn't hang out at the same places, etc.

Find some friends outside of class and just forget about the other students. Because guess what? 1.5 years of being the student the other students hate doesn't mean jack shit in terms of your purpose for being at school.
posted by fleacircus at 7:16 PM on October 28, 2009


Ok ok, I have another thought.
. It's not uncommon for a prof to say something like, "Good answer, VioletU!" or "The rest of you should consider what she's saying, too.."
Since you seem to have a good relationship with your professors, why not try talking to them outside of class.
"I'm having a little trouble with my classmates, and think it would help if I wasn't singled out in class as much." or wording of your choice. Obviously don't stop answering questions, but try to not always be the first one to raise your hand. I've gotten to the point now that I only volunteer if I'm pretty sure most people don't know it.
I'm not sure I like the advice that you should make excuses for your achievements a la "aw shucks, it's only 'cuz I have no life", but you don't need to rub it in their faces that you are acing the class.
posted by purpletangerine at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2009


I echo the other people saying that it's really not about you.

I had a friend like you. He wasn't a mature returning student; he was the same age as everyone else. But he had the same blow-the-end-off-the-bell-curve tendencies (e.g. a final exam where a good 80% of the students couldn't finish, even after the prof gave an extra half hour out of pity? The TA emailed him later to say he got 100% on it). When I first met him, I had very similar reactions to your classmates. I wasn't crass enough to say to his face "what the hell do you have to worry about?!", but I was thinking it.

He--and you, it seems like--were doing everything right. No gloating about your grades. Directing the subject towards that really bloody hard question #8, what have you. You've gotten a lot of good advice upthread about offering what you found helped you study and whatnot; follow that if you're so inclined. The rest, as they say, is in their court.

Personally, I didn't get over myself until I got to know my friend better and realize that he didn't coast and actually worked for his grades--worked harder than maybe 3 other classmates put together. I got my head out of my ass after that, and respected him for it. (And hey, we started helping each other with homework after that. =D) But the onus is really on your classmates, not you; if you're not being antagonistic with your approaches--and it doesn't sound like you are--there's really nothing you can do other than to continue the way you are.

PS: Congrats! Go you for kicking ass.
posted by Hakaisha at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2009


Wow - thanks for the advice so far!

Pertaining to the grades being 'open' - some marks are posted, on a list, in the classroom or the main office for our program (i.e., one sheet of paper with 44 grades listed on it), some are handed back to us in class (where the person next to me can easily see what's written in big red numbers), some are posted in group mailboxes (which are open, unlocked, and free for all to peruse if they desire.) There are very few marks kept 'private' in the sense of only being available to me.
posted by VioletU at 7:19 PM on October 28, 2009


Also, as for

"Good answer, VioletU!" ... makes my little heart glow, of course, but I can see why my classmates might not always be thrilled.

I think there was a recent thread (which I can't seem to find) about how to avoid being the student who talks all the time in class so that other students don't get a chance to contribute (or feel like they don't get a chance). It's unclear whether you have that problem or not, but you might want to take a look at it.
posted by k. at 7:22 PM on October 28, 2009


Oh, grades posted on a list—what a cruel way of doing things. Sorry for calling you a jerk; I take back that part of my comment.
posted by k. at 7:24 PM on October 28, 2009


In response to "what can I say?" I would probably say something like "Yeah, X was crazy hard, it was covered in the last page of that reading by Jones that I almost fell asleep over; I don't know how the prof expected anyone to finish that." on preview I see Solon and Thanks suggested something similar.

You might want to talk to the prof or TA about the way grades are distributed, I'm sure you're not the only one upset about their being visible publicly! (I see you're in Canada where public grade posting is probably more common than in the US, but still...at least maybe the prof could post grades by student ID rather than by name.)
posted by phoenixy at 7:25 PM on October 28, 2009


Yes, that makes much more sense and puts you in a much more difficult position. What an awful school policy!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:28 PM on October 28, 2009


Ah, yeah, this is a not-uncommon school dynamic, whether or not you are a returning student. Teachers and professors can inadvertently make the situation worse by pointing out your successes. It can sometimes be not so inadvertent if you don't visibly sweat the class. Defusing this will depend on how much you're willing to use various forms of prevarication as social lubricant. Bits like:

"Yeah, but you wouldn't believe how hard I worked on that." and "I've been studying for that for some time." tie into the whole "secret work" thing — thus, the person on the other end feels as if you have earned it.

"I really lucked out on that one!" — can only be used a couple of times. It's best if you look slightly oblivious when you say it. Nobody would buy that you're consistently lucky, but if you appear to be unaware of your ability, this precludes the assumption of arrogance.

"I have a knack for that, which makes up for my complete inability to do x." — plays into this ongoing idea that, if you are good at one thing, you must have a compensating suck factor elsewhere.

"I'm old, so I have had a lot higher chance to run into this stuff" works well for situations where a seemingly rare bit of knowledge is required.

One thing I suggest you not do, from personal experience, is ditch classes and homework, then just show up for tests. I began doing this as a way to avoid interactions with my peers, who often made cracks about my scores. This in turn led to professors making jokey references, in class, to everyone, about how people needed to do the homework ... except me. More avoidance as I grew uncomfortable with the attention, and on with the vicious cycle. It was extremely unhealthy. This eventually cleared up as I came to the conclusion that, in a few years, I did not have to see these people again if I did not wish to do so, and that I could ignore their jealousy or find ways to manipulate them out of feeling jealous. I opted for the latter, applying lines like the above, plus flat out lying about barely passing some electives in which my peer group was not enrolled.

Sometimes I would request help from people I didn't need help from, so I would seem more fallible. I also gently and blushingly requested of the more effusive professors that any markedly deviant scores, solutions, and so forth, might pass by without remark, which was a significant aid. I played up some weirdness, going for more of a Lazlo Hollyfeld deal as a shift away from the Chris Knight gig.

Basically, I view this naked jealousy as a swipe at the tall poppies — it's a way to get you to lower your performance so that they won't feel so bad, and perhaps you won't smash any curves. I think that just about anything is fair game, including a great deal of Machiavellian behavior, to deal with it. Unfortunately, this is a problem which arises in programs or classes which have open marks or professors who make a fuss about good scores, so you're liable to see more of it.
posted by adipocere at 7:29 PM on October 28, 2009


Wait a second: is this University or High School?

In High School we are stuck in a social environment which generally resents intellectual research.

In University we select our area of study, and by circumstance we fall into a new peer group.

Always be nice to everybody and all of that stuff, but please, make a point of avoiding people who make a point of degrading your accomplishments. They just want to drag you down.

There are always people smarter than you. Find them and hang out with them, and learn from them.
posted by ovvl at 7:59 PM on October 28, 2009


Anecdote time:

I recently finished a fairly prestigious, very small graduate program and one of the students was an older woman who was returning to school after a successful career elsewhere.

She would constantly chatter during class with the professors, interjecting irrelevant comments and buddying up with the professors (even to the point where they became visibly annoyed on occasion, though she was apparently unaware). Her comments in class frequently focused on the fact that she saw herself as existing on a wholly different plane from the rest of us and speaking with her outside of class always reinforced that.

She saw herself as being separate from the other students and was wholly unwilling to see us as her peers (despite the fact that many people, though younger, did actually have a lot in common with her).

This may or may not apply to you, but the point is that if you feel like you are not being accepted, perhaps it is because you are focused on your differences and not your similarities. The difference in age between you and your peers is almost certainly less significant than you imagine.

As far as talking about tests goes, it seems a bit inappropriate to me (like talking to someone about their bank account statement), but it might just be the other students reaching out and trying to befriend you.
posted by paperzach at 8:08 PM on October 28, 2009


In situations like that I usually just say something like "Phew, I know, I was sure I didn't do so well. I always panic right before the exam and cram my butt off. Must have fantastic short-term memory; Ask me again next week and I won't know. Ha ha." Next time the grades come out, just ham it up about your "superior ninja cramming skills."

Even if it isn't true, it's not denying you did well, it's not accusing them of being a bad student, and it's self-effacing. Hell, they'll know you're lying. It's the nice thing to say, though.
posted by ctmf at 8:09 PM on October 28, 2009


What a bizarre, old-fashioned method of posting grades. Revealing grades like that in public is now actually illegal in my region. Any way you can use your good relationships with profs to ask them to stop doing it? This is what courseware is for. They could at least anonymize the list.

I was a straight A student in undergrad and graduate school. I never, not once, told anyone what my grades were. When anyone asked, I'd say, "I did alright." Personally I don't find that kind of competition useful. I saved talk about the exact grades for my mother. She was the only person close to me who would not feel competitive or threatened, or feel that I was gloating. It's best to keep those kinds of discussions away from your direct classroom peers. At its best, academia is about competing with yourself.

As for papers handed back in class: I made a rule of never looking at my papers in class. I would take the paper when it was handed back and immediately roll it up and put it in my bag. I only looked at grades and comments in private. My classmates would be hard-pressed to see the grade before I did.

I'd recommend you make an effort to hide your grades. It's really none of your classmates' business how you're doing in the class.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:37 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just draw some humility from your previous failures:

You: Wow, that class was pretty rough today, huh?
Him: Yeah, well, Prof X thinks you're just plain amazing so you don't have to worry about THAT.
You: Oh, you should have met me when I was your age, I was flunking all over the place.
Him: Really?
You: Yeah, I really struggled with school back then. I still find it difficult sometimes, but I'm so grateful to have a second chance at study that I'm trying working hard this time round. Also, I'm old and I have no life!
posted by embrangled at 9:02 PM on October 28, 2009


Look: don't worry about it. I went to college in my early-to-mid 40s, and I graduated summa cum laude and would have in grad school if they had had such a distinction. I figured that every class met just for me--I mean it was nice all those other people showed up, too, but I was the main reason the professor was there. I sat int the front and I asked all kinds of questions (if you seek knowledge you need to be willing to make an ass out of yourself in public). I didn't give a shit what anybody else made and I didn't give a shit if they knew what I made. Eventually I gravitated to high achievers and they to me, and I can't remember once worrying about what to say to someone who made a grade worse than I did, and that was 99 per cent of the class. I did hit on a lot of younger women, and I had a lot of fun. The fact is, college is one of the few places where intelligence is sexy. Enjoy it. You don't owe anybody anything. Just do your work and enjoy being there. Since you're older you know damn well that school is a lot easier life than work. Enjoy it--I can't say that enough.
posted by Pistol at 9:03 PM on October 28, 2009


Gah. trying. Or, working, either way.
posted by embrangled at 9:04 PM on October 28, 2009


You, having been out in the work world for twenty minutes or so, you know better than anyone else in that room that grades don't mean anything once outside that college. Okay, they mean something, but not much, not near as much as we think when we're in school -- we take it as work, as our job, and get fanatical about it, and anal about grades. Lame.

I never had a boss ask me if I got an A or a B on that exam covering arrays, they just wanted me to program the thing, whatever it was that was happening that day. Grades count for your first gig but after that, nada. And you've already had plenty of gigs, finding work isn't going to be near as difficult for you as for these kids.

What it's about is learning the subjects covered, and it seems to me you're on fire with learning, wanting to learn, willing to bleed to do so.

Keep on keeping on, keep on asking questions of the professors, keep on studying, get all you can out of this thing, you are after all paying for it, you are after all investing your time and your energy -- which is to say your life -- into this period of growth.

Is it possible that the reason you failed out before is because you didn't want to deal with these same issues all those years ago? Just curious.

Have fun, keep on learning and enjoying it as best you can.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:22 PM on October 28, 2009


I'm going to really disapprove of the didactic sorts of responses people are suggesting here. I've learned how to study hard or It takes real dedication and study sessions blah blah. The other person talking doesn't give a rat's ass and will be offended.

They want a chance to vent, to punch you on the shoulder a bit. They're also poking you to find out if you're going to be a prick about being top of the class. If they find out that you're top of the class and refuse to make a deal about it they'll stop caring, too.

So here's what you do: Change the subject.

Your hypotheticals:

Her: I heard you got 98% on the exam.
Me: Yes.
Her: I failed. I mean, really, WHO would know the answer to X and Y?!
Me: Ah, you know, a test is a test. How's your dog doing?


Me: Wow, that class was pretty rough today, huh?
Him: Yeah, well, Prof X thinks you're just plain amazing so you don't have to worry about THAT.
Me: Ah well. Listen, I've been thinking about something you were saying the other day...
posted by argybarg at 9:36 PM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


And if anyone really, really presses you, say: "You know, I was a lousy student the first time. I'm just older now and I don't have a life. That helps." Then can the subject and move on.
posted by argybarg at 9:41 PM on October 28, 2009


I have rewritten this comment like five times, and each time it gets more angry and militant. Just as a warning. At this point, I have an actual physical ache to shove myself into the middle of one of those conversations, pin the student with a steely malevolent glare, and coldly inform them that It is not VioletU's fault that you are an idiot.

This situation is not your fault. These awkward conversations are not your problem to fix. When someone walks up to you and starts an incredibly awkward AND STUPID conversation, you are not obliged to un-stupid the situation.

Just because someone brings a huge wet wad of stupid and drops it at your feet, where it lies there stinking and oozing and looking skeptical? That does not mean it's your job to scoop it up in a newspaper and take it to the trash can.

Your classmates were over-praised by their parents for everything when they were children. Now the poor sheltered privileged things are running face-first into the cold hard wall of Reality. Your only obligation here is to try not to actually laugh at them.

If you want to escape the situation with a minimum of embarrassment, just shrug and smile. Become comfortable with the awkwardness. It is their learning moment. Change the subject if you want, or just say "Gotta run," and leave. Totally your call.

And good for you for not being a stupid. We need more not stupids in the world. And fuck the anti-intellectualism which runs rampant in this world, yea even unto the halls of higher education, and which (I feel) women get a double heaping of, just because.
posted by ErikaB at 9:43 PM on October 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm also trying really hard not to be mad at the suggestions here that you should apologize for doing well at college.

People! Honestly!

Okay it's obviously time for me to Step Away From The Computer.
posted by ErikaB at 9:46 PM on October 28, 2009


Lots of good advice in here (interspersed with some that's not so good IMO) but argybarg really nailed it. Bringing your grades up is a way for these kids to sound you out. If you act like it's a big deal — either in an apologetic don't-hate-me kind of way, or in a patronizing you-need-to-shape-up kind of way or in a gloaty superior kind of way or whatever — the message you're sending is "Yes, I do think my big brain and high grades are a big hairy deal," which is what they're afraid of and why they're sounding you out in the first place.

If you want to be friends with these kids who are giving you a hard time, then yes, the thing to do is drop it and make normal conversation.

(There is something a little unfair in this. People who are struggling in a class get to use that as social lubricant. "Oh god, you got a 75? I got a 73. Fuck my life, let's go get a drink." People who aren't struggling have to come up with a different social lubricant. It's the academic equivalent of being a non-smoker — you can't strike up a conversation by asking for a light bitching about your grades. But whatever, there are other ways to strike up a conversation.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:14 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


When your classmates complain about how hard the tests/assignments are and then make pointed remarks about your good grades I think your best course of action is to change the subject. You're getting good grades because school is your priority and you are focused and work hard, but I doubt that's what your classmates want to hear. It's going to be awkward, but not because you're doing anything wrong. It's awkward because you already know how to be a successful university student and they don't. Also, many young students just coming out of high school are not used to taking responsibility for their own learning, so they really focus on how things seem to be hard, or unfair, or whatever, without thinking about how their actions contribute to their success or failure. However, it's not your job (and probably not advisable) for you to point that out to them. They'll figure it out, or they won't.

Is there another high achiever you can hang out with? THAT is the person with whom you will (probably) feel least awkward. If you can, seek these people out. My serious students hang out with each other; one of my few nontraditional students sits with a high achieving student who is right out of high school--despite the age difference, they've formed a bond because they're two of the only students who are there to learn rather than to party.

[Also, I have to echo the others who are questioning the way students' grades are so public at your school. I'm in Canada too, but this would be a contravention of the privacy laws where I teach (this might vary by province, though). Although in the past we used to post lists of grades with student numbers and no names, we are not allowed to post our students' grades at all now, period--we have had several stern memos and reminders about this. My colleagues and I would get in serious trouble for doing what your profs are doing.]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:58 PM on October 28, 2009


Ah ha! This problem! I have this ALL THE TIME. And I'm not even in school. No, I'm in China, and work in language, and speak both Mandarin and English with a functional proficiency approaching something resembling fluent. It's like I got dropped into an episode of Survivor. Chinese has a reputation for being impenetrably hard, both to natives and expats, but I find it...not so much. No magic combination, I just have this fanatical belief that fluency includes literacy, and that if you're going to live somewhere with such a rich literary tradition, you're not getting the full experience unless you can read the books, both the ancient ones and the 280,000 that are published every year. I just banged my head against the edifice until I could. (practice + curiosity) x time invested = I know some Chinese.

Apparently I'm the only one on earth who doesn't find this to be straightforward. EVERYONE, local or non-, compliments me on my ability to use the language and pesters me for secret tips and tutoring. The first thing out of people's mouth in this country is: "Wow, your Chinese is really good!" My answer is usually, "I hope so. I'm a translator, and this is what pays the bills." But more often than not the next thing they say is, "I could never do that." Thank god I enjoy this, because I've found the best way to diffuse that is to ask, "Why?" That usually leads to conversations where we get into how languages are learned, what they are, why they're difficult, and why it bugs people so much that they can't speak Chinese/English (English being the national headache of China). I rarely get the impression that I'm coming off as arrogant if I take the time to ask why they think it's impossible. Honestly, who cares if a few people think you're a little cocky? If you take the time to involve yourself in what's difficult for others, I personally think you'll gain a lot of points as a considerate, helpful, and knowledgeable person who it's worth spending time with. And you'll learn quite a bit, just like I've come into a lifetime of interesting problems through the conversations about why people have trouble learning language. These conversations are an opportunity to get to know the other students in the program, and likely your future colleagues! Take it!
posted by saysthis at 11:59 PM on October 28, 2009


I have no idea what to say. Every possible response seems either condescending ("Maybe you should study harder/differently next time?") or like I'm gloating ("REALLY?! You didn't know?!") or just plain awkward ("Oh, well, um.. hey, I like your shoes!"). [...] If I try to give a response along the lines of, "Oh, that sucks. I'm sorry." there are a few people who will say, "YOU don't have to worry about it! YOU are doing really well!" .. which is true, but.. again, I'm working my ass off. SAYING that, however, makes me sound like a jerk because they're probably working their asses off too.

You could ascribe the difference to things that would be an advantage for the purposes of this course, but that people would not envy overall.

For example, "Well, I studied this at college before I got kicked out, I would have come back to it sooner but I wanted to pay off my $20,000 of college debt first" explains why you're doing well, but they won't envy your big debts.

Or: "Well, after I got kicked out of college the only jobs I could get was stacking shelves at wal-mart, which gave me plenty of time to think about how important it was that I try to work hard and apply myself" - they won't envy you having a low-paid job you didn't like for a few years.

Or: "Well, with my wife pregnant I really need this degree, and we can only afford for me to try it once so she helps me out and makes sure I do the assigned reading before the class" - they might envy that one a little bit, but marriage, children, and a responsibility to provide for a family will seem a long way off to the traditional-age students.

Or "It's really expensive, so I can't afford to go out partying and things like that very much, and as it's costing so much I really want to get all the education out of it that I can" - they won't envy the fact you don't have much disposable income.

Or "Well, my fiancee gave me herpes and left me for another man two weeks before the course started, so I kind of threw myself into studying to keep myself distracted. And now I don't have to keep her company, I've got a lot more free time to study" - they won't envy the fact you're unhappily single (and you've got herpes).
posted by Mike1024 at 1:25 AM on October 29, 2009


Man, I was all set to post an answer teaching you how to drop compelling white lies that would leave people with no choice but to find you charming, but then jayder, with a mix of genius and insight, completely nailed it.
posted by The Monkey at 4:40 AM on October 29, 2009


Just a thought but if you got 98% on a test and a classmate tells you they failed, maybe you could offer to help them study for the next one (or that one if failure means they need to retake the test). If they just wanted to bitch then they're the one of the back foot having to come up with an excuse why they can't accept your help or they actually take you up on the offer and you get to help someone and maybe make a friend in the process.
posted by missmagenta at 5:08 AM on October 29, 2009


I started programming when I was 6. By the time college came around those classes weren't very challenging, so it was sort of a similar situation. I'd tell everyone two things - one, I'm not doing nearly as well in other classes (could be outside of class, in the past, etc.), and two, they say teaching's the best way to really learn something, so tell me what you know.

Most won't take your offer but some will, and those are usually great conversations that lead to great friendships. Just be sure to invite others into those conversations so it doesn't get clicky. Once everyone see's your trying to help them too the comments from the prof become a group morale boost, because they're on your 'side', especially if you can include the others in those exchanges.
posted by jwells at 5:27 AM on October 29, 2009


A couple years ago, I went back to school as the old kid. I was 24 when all of my peers were more like 19. Not a huge difference, but I wasn't nearly as fresh to the world as they were.
At any rate, I was hugely motivated, had experience in the applicable workplace, and the material made a lot of sense to me. I found myself being amazed to be doing well at school, acing tests, blitzing hands-on skills assessments, and actually doing extra work.
I was self conscious, naturally, but I tried to be really gracious and easy-going whenever someone bitched about the difficulties they were having. Rather than saying something like, "Well, too bad for you. If only you were as smart as me..." I would just offer to help.

Him: I heard you got 98% on the exam.
Me: Yeah, dude.
Him: I failed. I mean, really, WHO would know the answer to X and Y?!
Me: I know exactly how you feel. I used to be terrible at this stuff. Y'know what, lets go over it right now and I'll show you how I make sense of it. It'll take just a minute.

Having myself just recently made the transition from not-understanding to understanding and from not-motivated to motivated, it was really easy to put the material in perspective for my younger colleagues and to get them motivated. Pretty soon, their scores and performance improved.

Obviously, you understand the material being presented in class and are motivated to do well. Don't underestimate how much this can rub off on your younger peers. It's corny, but you could be a role model and, when they complain about their performance, they could be signaling that they want help. I've made a few good friends this way. I keep in touch with them, years later, and they'll still call me when they've had a professional success or learned about some new and interesting piece of technology or procedure.
posted by Jon-o at 5:41 AM on October 29, 2009


I think it would be valuable to try to identify the motivations behind the comments, because there's a number of different reasons your fellow students may be making them, varyingly ideal ways of handling them.

I am also a mature (relatively speaking) student returning for my undergrad, and the things that have struck me the most about my 18-22yr old peers is that 1) they will complain about ANYTHING, and 2) generally, their level of personal accountability is extremely low. These two factors combined often create a perfect storm of all-consuming whiney-ness. So if you feel that the comments directed at you are rooted in that type of mentality, understand that it's just a still-childish aspect of their personality manifesting, and work to assertively redirect the conversation, in the ways that argybarg suggested.

Other times, the remarks may be a student who's looking to solicit help, but doesn't want to come right out and say it. If you think it might be the case, you ask them questions about how they usually prepare and offer tips that work for you, or you could even offer to spend some time working with them -- I've always found that re-explaining concepts to someone who's having trouble only helps to cement the concepts more in my own mind.

And, y'know, the kid could just be being a jerk. If that's the case, I usually find that ErikaB's cold stare and an arched eyebrow do the trick. Don't even bother engaging if you think you're dealing with an ass. Not even worth the time.

But whatever the motivations, please don't fall in to the self-effacing pattern of indirectly apologizing for your hard work! And congratulations on your newfound success!
posted by hegemone at 6:34 AM on October 29, 2009


Jayder's advice is spot-on. From what I remember from my college classes, the older non-traditional students were, as a group, highly motivated, close with the professors, not ashamed to speak up in class, etc. Your classmates are probably exposed to other nontraditional students in their other classes who "come from the same mold" as you do. So don't worry too much about it.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:37 AM on October 29, 2009


I don't have a lot of advice, since I'm a 30 year old undergrad in a very similar boat. I have noticed a few things, though... This is my second attempt at college. I did, in fact, flunk out the first time. Now, my lowest grade is an A-.

High school to college is a rough transition with our current educational model. No one is going to call your mom if you cut class, and they don't get a copy of your grades. The mental shift from "if I slack off I'll get in trouble" to "if I slack off it will hurt me a lot more than it will hurt anyone else" is a tough one to make, and often passes through "there's no one to yell at me for slacking off!" on the way. It seems like the biggest complainers in my classes are the ones who skip half the time, and when they are there fall asleep or text. It's hard not to say "you failed? well what did you fucking expect?? I spent the last three classes trying to take notes while dodging your nodding unconscious head." It is much easier to breeze through and still manage good grades in high school (that was my downfall the first time).

There's also the intimidation factor. High school teachers often talk down to students. "I know this, you don't, so listen to what I'm telling you." That sort of thing. Professors in college are much more likely to actually interact with the class, expecting an educated adult-level dialogue about the material. Those participation points are tough to get when you're terrified to speak since the professor is actually looking for your opinion and not for someone to repeat what they said in the last class. I don't think the average person has the confidence to speak up like that, or even disagree with an opinion the professor offers, in their late teens. "Why does he want my opinion on Grapes of Wrath? I don't know! I'll just sound dumb, better to keep quiet than get called out as wrong in front of everyone!"

I often feel like I'm the only one speaking in some classes. And while I do love the "yes, exactly, Kelly!" comments I get, I don't like the "smartypants" reputation. But often the option is for me to answer or sit and listen to the professor say "come on, SOMEONE must have an opinion on this. Is Tom Joad dangerous? Someone? Did anyone even do the reading? Please don't make me pick someone at random." over and over again. Or, even worse, "Are you all going to make poor Kelly answer every question today, come on, one of you say something?" It seems like the adult students don't dominate the class so much as they are the only ones who willingly participate.

So, I don't know the answer. I never apologize for doing well since I worked my ass off for everything I have, but I will shrug and offer something neutral and sympathetic when people tell me they did poorly. Ouch, I'm sorry, wow that sucks. If I get cornered I'm honest: I flunked out, I've spent ten years working twice as hard as everyone else to get half the respect since I don't have a degree, I got laid off and couldn't find anything else that would forgive my lack of degree, and will do whatever it takes not to go through that again. Even the densest classmates understand and respect that.

I do think things are very different from when I was in college the first time, though. I just missed the boat for the "everyone's a winner since self esteem is primary!" school of thought. I'm lucky. There are plenty of other students who argue about their grade being too low (even for something as objective as a math class), and I've heard the "but I REALLY TRIED!" excuse used more than once as a reasoning for why they deserve more points. Students show up without an assignment that was given out with a month notice and are shocked when they can't just hand it in late. I once had a meeting with my adviser interrupted by a phone call from a parent who was upset at the grade he gave her son. I can't imagine pulling any of that, now or ten years ago. The idea that I was owed something never occurred to me, but it seems to be a surprisingly common mindset now. (in short: kids these days, blah blah, get off my damn lawn.)
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:11 AM on October 29, 2009


I just started a grad program in September, and even though it was a very competitive admission process and I know all my classmates are smart and motivated, complaints about the course work are still the #1 conversation topic among us. I really think this is because it's the low-hanging fruit of topics -- we're all in these classes, we all took that test or did that assignment, so it's the most obvious thing we all have in common. I bet a lot of your classmates are doing this too: even if they're doing ok in the class, commiserating is the easiest source of small-talk.

Like you, I seem to be doing better than the majority of my classmates, so I can definitely relate to the discomfort. I also just detest conversations that are full of whining and complaining. It starts out as venting, but instead of making things better it just makes everyone grumpier. The only solution I've found is to have a ready supply of subjects to bring up instead. This is getting easier as I get to know my classmates, because I can ask if their dog is feeling better, or if they got one of the elusive elliptical machines at the gym between classes, or how that dinner with their SO's parents went. For the people I don't know well enough to ask something relevant, here are some of my go-to subjects. As a bonus, they help me get to know people so I can ask better questions next time:

- How was your weekend? Do anything fun?
- Whatcha having for lunch? I need some new ideas.
- Have you seen XYZ movie? I can't decide if it's worth the ten bucks... (and then commiserate over movie prices, if you don't hate the negative stuff as much as I seem to)
- Awesome scarf/shirt/shoes/bag/whatever, where'd you get it?
- Are you guys dressing up for Halloween?
- Got any big plans for the weekend?

If you can, keep conversations centered around stuff that's not school-related. If somebody brings up how well you're doing, tell them you worked really hard and then change the subject. I've found that a rueful tone, like maybe you're not sure whether all that work was really worth the grade, goes over well. Give a little sigh, if you've got a theatrical streak. It doesn't have to have any connotation that the other person should have worked harder. And yeah, like others have said, offer to form a study group if you'd actually be willing to follow through on it.
posted by vytae at 3:02 PM on October 29, 2009


Hmmm. I seem to have a different take on this from everyone else who's answered.

My first reaction to reading your question is that the other students are asking for your help in studying: they're failing, you're succeeding, they are awkwardly asking for tips from you.

Are you willing to form a study group or something like that? If so, that might help. Of course you don't have to do this if you don't want to.
posted by medusa at 3:34 PM on October 29, 2009


Thanks, all, for the multitude of great responses and ideas and hint and tips for handling this. I'm feeling much better just knowing that I'm not being socially awkward here, specifically, and that other people are experiencing the same thing or have in the past. I've started using some of the responses already - and I have to say that it really feels GOOD to not break into a cold sweat on hearing the words, "I heard you did really well, huh?"

Thank you all, again.
posted by VioletU at 6:04 PM on November 3, 2009


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