Here you are. You’ve gotten through the first half of the semester with no worries because, hey, you’ll have all second half of the semester to worry. But it’s the week of the midterm, and you know you need to turn things around.
There are several things you could do here, and keep in mind, these are all last-ditch efforts. The following strategies only apply to those of us who were too busy ice skating, twirling batons or making donuts to pay attention to every little detail in the PowerPoints.
The first option is an old staple. Start cramming in study sessions trying to catch up on two months worth of information, then inevitably accept your failure and hope for a C. We’ve all been there, and sometimes it works.
Remember, C’s get degrees.
If last-minute cramming isn’t your style, you could do nothing, then hope and pray you miraculously wake up tomorrow morning an omniscient, all-knowing superbeing.
If none of those float your boat, you could go with my personal favorite: brown-nosing.
Now I’m not talking about buying your professor an apple and complementing their shoes. No. I’m talking about world-class schmoozing.
Ideally, this process would have started at the very beginning of the semester. But in light of the current situation, we have to make up for lost time.
You have one simple goal.
First, make the professor think you are prepared. Get a question ready. One from a study guide, something from one of the PowerPoints or even something from the syllabus about the midterm.
The question can’t be too broad, like asking to explain an entire concept. They’ll forget you asked. It has to be specific enough to be memorable. Your goal is to get them to think “wow, that kid really looked over the material.”
Be observant. Go into their office to ask the question you’ve expertly crafted. The moment you walk in the office, start paying attention. Look for pictures of kids or pets. Ask about said kids or pets.
Compliment them. Don’t make it a huge deal, just something quick.
Then ask your question.
After that, hope they remember when they’re grading and choose to have mercy on you.
If you have a little more time — maybe a class or two before your exam — start getting to know your professor. After all, professors are people too.
Ask them what they’re doing for spring break or how their semester is going. The standard stuff. It doesn’t really matter what the question is. What matters is your response.
Be genuinely interested. Your professors are used to listening to students complain about grades and due dates all day, so give them a chance to talk about themselves. It’ll go a long way.
While listening to their response try to pick up on something they seem particularly excited about. And bring it up every time you see them.
It may feel like you’re beating a dead horse, but think about it. After days full of hearing complaints, your professors will love to take a minute to talk about their favorite hobby.
Even if you do all of these perfectly, it does not assure a good midterm grade. But it will make your professor more likely to work with you some when you get back from spring break.
Additionally, getting to know your professors is a plus in its own right. Don’t have anyone to grab dinner with in the caf? Now you do.
And think about this one. Most music business professors know industry professionals who know the famous musicians. That’s just simple degrees of separation, folks.
Let’s be real, it’s the professor who controls your grade. And wouldn’t you be more willing to bump someone’s grade up a few points if you thought they were a pal?
Now of course this isn’t the definitive guide to getting an A without any work. This is still work. And there are plenty of other tactics. You’ll learn and get better the more you try. And perfectly you’ll start doing it without thinking about it. As long as you remember the basics, you’ll be set for life.