Class stories an unwelcome filler

There is a serious problem that has been plaguing college campuses around the nation for years. After spending four years here at Oswego State, I have noticed that it’s something that we students have to fix if we want to retain our sanity.

The problem? Those people in class who feel the need to share their hilarious and interesting stories with a class of 50 strangers. Sure, it’s interesting that your sister’s friend once saw Will Smith in person, but you’re holding up the class.

Want to avoid being this guy or girl? Before you raise your hand to give your input, ask yourself a few simple questions.

First, ask yourself, ‘Is what I’m saying relevant to the topic being discussed?’ If you answer yes to this question, your story lives a little longer. If not, you should consider saving your input for another time.

This tip doesn’t just apply to the classroom, either. Have you ever sat in a meeting that just dragged on and on because of time unnecessarily spent on a point? The trick is to weigh the usefulness of what’s on your mind against how much time it will set everyone back. It’s a skill that must be practiced to be perfected, but if everyone in the room had that skill, we’d all be that much happier.

Next, you should ask, ‘Does my story add anything useful to the conversation?’ This is a crucial step. If the answer is no, you should probably just bite the bullet and hold your tongue. After all, we’re here to learn. If your input is really just an unrelated story, think of all the tuition dollars you’re costing your poor classmates. Perhaps one option is to write down all of those things you want to say and then try to get your collection published when you graduate.

The third question is actually a simple observation. Ask yourself, ‘Does everyone in the room groan when I raise my hand?’ If the answer is yes, make no mistake: When you think you’re talking, you’re really just spewing annoying noises.

To clarify, I have no problem with people who raise their hands to ask questions about what is being discussed. I think that everyone in the room has the same right to make sure they understand the material. While these might sometimes be the same people who waste everyone’s time, that doesn’t nullify their right to ask relevant questions. But the second you start telling the class a story about your puppy, you’ll have lost all my sympathy.