11 Things to Do When You Feel an Assignment Is Beneath You

I don’t give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am – I really do – but people never notice it. People never notice anything.
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
There will be times in your education when, for whatever reasons, an instructor will ask you to complete an assignment that you feel is be-fricking-neath your abilities. Maybe you completed a similar task before in a previous class, maybe you are in a section where your abilities eclipse those of your classmates, or maybe a higher authority is requiring the instructor to administer the pointless project. Regardless, here are some recommendations for constructively dealing with the situation.
  1. Even if you feel the assignment is vapid, try giving it 110%. Establish your ethos with the instructor by blowing the task out of the water with your abilities. Maybe the instructor will then offer you some accommodations.
  2. Gain more from the experience by doubling your input. Read a plethora of additional sources.
  3. Or, double your output. Produce more than what is required. Explain, expound, expand until you exhale everything in you.
  4. Try working against the grain. Select a viewpoint or topic that challenges the assignment without transgressing too much—don’t get yourself kicked out of the class.
  5. Insert your own personal challenges, such as using obscure rhetorical devices (e.g., asyndeton, congery, tmesis, etc.), employing a set number of GRE vocabulary words (like maybe 5) throughout the assignment, or embed your own acrostic message into your text (Try not to be too cheeky!).
  6. Since the assignment is industrial and rote, focus on creating beauty. Make your execution elegant as a black sequined evening gown by using sensory description and figurative language.
  7. Try to help someone who is struggling with the assignment. Cultivate your altruism.
  8. If you can, finish early and work on the next task. Be expedient without being impetuous and move on to next week’s assignment. Or…
  9. Complete the assignment twice if you are so brilliant, Mr. or Ms. Goodwill Hunting. Run two laps instead of one.
  10. Alternatively, autopilot mode might be an option. Go through the motions while your astral projection is elsewhere exploring Plato’s world of form.
  11. Lastly, jump through the hoop, move on, don’t make a stink, don’t be a blowhard, don’t distinguish yourself, do what is required, get the grade, pass the course.
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Note: this post was inspired by a recent conversation with my oldest son who commented that some of the assignments for his class at the local technical college were a little easy for him. For more about obscure rhetorical devices, read this article. And, for more about common GRE vocabulary, read this article.

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