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Thursday, May 23, 2024

It is a familiar sight to anyone who has ever stepped foot in a lecture hall: a sea of faces looking anywhere but the center of the room. Sure, you might have 10 or so students who actually pay heed to the knowledge being imparted by their lecturer, but we’d bet dollars to doughnuts those same students are the kinds of dweebs who still take notes with pen and paper (Just kidding. For those of you that do, we have no doubt you have a bright and financially lucrative future ahead of you — please give us jobs).

Whether it’s iPhones, Androids, laptops or even a Game Boy Advance (yes, this is a thing that has happened), it would seem as though students jump at the first opportunity to screw around, even within the confines of a college class. If we had a nickel for every time one of our staff members saw someone taking a BuzzFeed quiz (ew) in class… we’d have 15 or so nickels.

But, as so many important philosophical inquiries have begun: "What does it mean?"

The question at hand isn’t whether we have a detrimental addiction to our smart devices, since that was conclusively answered the first time someone died texting and driving. No, the question at the heart of the matter is this: As students, how much do we value our college education?

We’ve phrased the question in this manner because it’s obvious to some degree or another (get it?) most students understand the importance of college. Even the ones who go to class and play solitaire respect that their mere attendance will boost their grade. In our estimation, it is the distinction between one’s physical attendance versus their mental attendance that constitutes the bulk of the question.

Showing up to class is not the same as going to class. Showing up to class is taking a seat and dismissing the exciting and riveting world of accounting in order to find out "Which Mumford and Sons Album Are You?" Going to class is sitting down, strapping in and ignoring texts from your significant other in order to scribble down every fact or tangential detail your professor or TA can throw at you. THAT’S learning.

In an editorial a few weeks back, we lamented that it is harder than ever to be a disciplined, attentive college student. We still maintain that assertion, but damn it, we ask you, our fellow students, to at least try. As far as using our devices in class goes, we’ve all done it and we’re all going to do it. But for those chronic offenders, the individuals who are most likely to develop neck problems from staring directly into their crotch so much, you can and ought to do better. Whether you’re here on the dime of the state, federal loans, your own labor or mommy and daddy, college classes are absurdly expensive. Paying attention in class, inane as it often proves to be, represents a smart investment. If beloved sitcom character Dennis Reynolds has taught us anything, it’s that demonstrating value — or at least valuing the right things — is an important first step to living a charmed life.

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