Even if you goofed off all semester …

It’s not too late to take your fate by the balls and somehow salvage the rest of the year.

by John Hoff

This is the golden hour of the semester, when some smartly applied effort can change your destiny. Or, if you prefer, you can ignore opportunity and crash in flames, black skid marks ending in the wreckage of your grade point average.

Really, it’s your choice. Consider all the evidence that this is the golden hour to take fate by the balls, as follows:

Beat the rush to summer jobs. If you make a few efforts this week, even something as minor as e-mailing out some resumes, you can avoid the panic of the stampeding herd sure to come at the end of the semester. You might be able pick a plum instead of a lemon. Lots of great jobs can be found in the Daily’s classifieds ads.

Unload the last three months of your year-long lease, or pick up a sweet sublet. Really, there ought to be a damned law requiring college students to be offered semesterlong leases, at least in areas near campus. But the fact is, a lot of students have to deal with a lease they won’t need during the summer. This presents an opportunity for students who actually take summer classes. Where do you unload your lease or snap up a great crib at a substantial discount? Of course it’s the Daily classifieds. Act now and avoid the rush.

It’s not too late to read the text for your classes. Even if you’ve goofed off all semester, you still can salvage the situation if you apply yourself right now. You could be overwhelmed if you try this in the last two weeks, but at this moment you can pace yourself and avoid desperate, sleep-deprived cramming. When you’re all done with finals, it’s time to party Ö but not before then.

Sometimes I find Present Self negotiating with Future Self. I promise myself something really special in the future for all the hard work I’m doing right now. At the moment I have my heart set on an entire lobster at Village Wok, and to hell with the cost. But there will be no reward like that until I cross the semester finish line, sweating and heaving. I might also point out that Village Wok has wonderful vegetarian offerings.

Watch your classmates suffering in academic purgatory. Just to avoid the stress of deadlines, I’m usually the first one to turn in a term paper. It’s not because of industriousness, but rather to avoid the pressurized eyeball-popping, heart-clutching feeling of an impending deadline with no hope of extension. But it’s not enough to enjoy the sweet relief of turning in a huge project days early, reveling like a nerd in the appreciation on my professor’s face. No, I like to walk around and watch my classmates, thinking, “Suffer, suffer, like the savior.”

Don’t even think I’m kidding about this. Long ago, a friend of mine who worked at a summer camp for Ö um Ö special people Ö could imitate the voices and mannerisms of the different campers. Her imitation of one camper was so funny and devastating that for years we would say in a maniacal high-pitched voice, “Suffer, suffer, LIKE THE SAVIOR! Ah ha ha ha!” I can’t stop these words from bouncing around in my head when I do my ritualistic post-term-paper victory laps through the computer labs and library study spaces.

You probably will want to keep thoughts like this to yourself as you walk around contrasting your delicious freedom with your classmates’ desperate stress.

The tax man cometh. April 15 is just around the corner. If you think the lines are bad now, just wait until next week. Get ‘er done, and then you can fill out your FAFSA.

Optimum weenie tweakage. Now is the season when closely matching resume-packing weenies run for student government, often on a platform of accusing others of being unoriginal, resume-packing weenies. Right now their platforms are subject to a bit of flexibility as students raise issues, but in a short while they will dig in to their positions.

Now is the time to tweak their platforms in a particular direction by raising issues like bike theft sting operations, parking meters that will take something besides quarters, or whatever your passion might be.

Perpetuate the human species. You’ve probably met somebody beautiful and special during the academic year, and you’re wondering if you should make your move. Summer will mean a drastic realignment of schedules and living arrangements. Your lives might come out of alignment, and your best chance will be lost forever. On the other hand, if you strike out, there’s a good chance you won’t have to cross paths so often for the very same reason. In any case, now is the optimum time to make a date Ö for the end of the semester. But you might end up, good heavens, studying together. What a delightful mix of business and pleasure, stress and relief.

An ad in the Daily classifieds directed at that special someone certainly wouldn’t be a first.

What the hell are you doing here? You got to the end of the column. You must be one of the smarter, harder-working people. Let me ask you: Why are you at the University in the first place? Because you plan to play a role in the fate of the world itself, right? Being faithful to your studies can be a long, lonely road. But even when you are cracking books at midnight while classmates drink and socialize, you are not alone. If there are angels, they look down and take heart in your faithfulness, and tell themselves the world soon will be in good hands. Great will be your reward for hard work in this golden hour.

The race is still running, but the finish line is in sight. The best opportunity of the semester is here right now and will not come again. Now is the time to pour on the effort, and snatch end-of-the-semester victory.

John Hoff welcomes comments at [email protected]