Last Saturday, July 3, the OJTCareers team conducted a seminar for the graduating IT students from Manila Central University. For most of us who had to discuss several topics in front of the students, it was a first. But I won’t talk about the seminar. I want to talk about the students. But what I learned about the students aren’t exactly new. It was amusing to find out actually that a college class still has all the stereotypes that we had in our class when I was in college, and most probably what my brother and parents had in their class when they were in college.
First off, there’s always going to be the student who always pays attention and is ready with all the questions. He (or she) is always interested to find out more about what you’re trying to tell them, always looking for a confirmation on what he knows. He’s the one you somehow always end up having an eye contact with, because he’s the most attentive in the class. He nods at you in agreement at what you’re saying, and raises his hand when you ask if anybody still has a question in mind.
There are also the class clowns. These people usually sit in the back row, always keeping their heads together, making little jokes about the discussion, teasing whoever is reciting, and always laughing at each other in good nature when one of them is called to recite. When you call on them to recite, they bow and scratch their heads because they’re embarrassed to be caught off guard, but will still smile at you and exert honest effort in answering the question, all the while enduring the jeers from their seatmates.
The silent ones, for some reason, also always sit next to each other, although they don’t usually talk with each other during the discussion, or raise their hands to recite. Their main goal is to listen and to take down as much information they can get from the discussion. They usually have their heads rested on their hands, sometimes even covering their mouth with their handkerchiefs—as if you will release all Satan’s minions if you merely see them with their mouths open or talking with their seatmate. When you call on them to recite, they hesitate to stand up, and when they do, they will keep close to their chair—as if it’s their safe place.
The popular popular ones, they sit in the middle. They don’t care where they sit because they know that they will attract attention, whether because they are too noisy, or are active in the discussion. They answer confidently when called upon, unaffected by some of their classmates teasing.
Heartthrobs, there can be several and of different types. The most common is the one included in the group of class clowns. It’s probably the reason why he became heartthrob in the first place. Anyone who has a good-natured sense of humor looks more attractive than those who don’t. Those unfairly handsome boys who don’t have a sense of humor are usually shy and are alone. It’s probably because other guys are intimidated at how handsome he is (whether they admit it or not) and they don’t want to be labeled as just the funny sidekicks next to him. When it comes to recitations, the former are similar to how class clowns recite, and the latter belong to the shy ones.
When it comes to girls who are heartthrobs—or at least those who are considered to be attractive by the majority in their class—it’s true when they say that birds of the same feather flock together. Usually, these girls are into their looks too much that they start to look alike. Yes, they’re attractive, but when they are too aware of that fact, it doesn’t matter anymore because you can tell that they’re too aware and it starts to get corny. When they recite, they do it matter-of-factly, even if their answer is wrong. Their classmates who find them attractive will think their blunder is cute, and those who don’t find them attractive will think they don’t have anything else going for them aside from looks.
The resident couple. Every class has one. They always sit next to each other. They are usually good at a lot of things together. It’s like they tag-team every task and project and come out successfully. Everyone knows them, most of the people like them.
And for the rest of the people in the class? They are those who don’t fall in just one stereotype. Instead, they are the ones who notice all the other stereotypes and try not to be in one. It’s probably a stereotype of its own—those who don’t fit in any box. It’s not necessarily a bad category. Just another stereotype.
Bottom line is that we have indeed been where these students are. And the ones before us have been where we are now. It somehow makes you think. Even if you’ve made different decisions,—in college, for instance—no matter how much you’ve said that you were unique, that who you are is based on what you want and not anyone else’s—we can’t help but see all these stereotypes and the patterns.
We’re all hurtling down the same path, I think. There are billions of people all over the world. There are about 91 million people in the Philippines alone. We can’t all be originals. But the least we can do is try to be like someone who had been great. If we follow the footsteps of someone lame, it’s not worth it. It’s really not worth it at all.