G = ec²

G = ec² (Graduation = effort x cognitive calisthenics)

If Einstein were to read my equation, he may not be impressed. However, about 40 years ago, I impressed myself by applying this equation to my most dreaded of college subjects…math.Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out

I entered Illinois State University in the Fall of 1977 as a Piano Performance major. I had dreams of becoming a concert pianist. When juries, which are the equivalent of final examinations, came around at the end of my freshman year, I realized that my dream was most likely not going to come true. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the talent, I simply didn’t want to put in the time and effort in the practice room. I was more interested in hanging out with my friends, playing Frisbee in the quad and generally having a good time.

So, I made the decision to quit Piano Performance and seek out a major that I could complete in the shortest time possible. A Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics was the choice. It required the least number of credit hours to graduate. However, it also required a lot of math: algebra, calculus, business math, accounting and statistics. Algebra came first. I flunked out my first semester and got a D my second semester. I signed up for a third try, determined to make a C in order to pass and move on. However, my instructor informed me that two attempts was the limit and that I would not be allowed to take the class a third time. I asked him what I was to do since I needed algebra in order to move on to all of the other required math courses. He told me I would need to speak with the Dean.

My visit with the Dean was quick and to the point. My only choice was to take a 5 credit hour trigonometry class which met at 8:00 AM Monday through Friday. My only thought was:  “How in the world am I going to pass a 5 hour trig class when I can’t get through a 3 hour algebra class?” But, it was exactly the knock on the noggin I needed. If I wanted to graduate, I was going to have to put in the effort and utilize my brain power, double time!

The moral of the story? I passed with the highest grade in the class. I even ended up tutoring some fellow students. The confidence gained in my trig class allowed me to breeze through the rest of my required math courses and graduate on time…with a B.S. in Economics.

Contributed by: Teresa “Tess” Blatti | Online Advisor

[Image credit: NPR]

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