Congratulations!

You have entered the world of college and are now tackling the hardest subject in the book!

Yes, reader, I said it. The hardest subject in the book.

*Dramatic music in the background, growing in volume*

COLLEGE ALGEBRA!

There.

I even underlined it. Beat that.

OK, so my sister and I, crazy genii that we are, (Yes, the plural form of genius is indeed genii. Look it up, I dare you.), decided to tell you how to approach College Algebra wisely and scientifically with real-life results and real-deal tests and experiments so read closely.

1: You start out by choosing which group you are in. You are in either of these or you're in denial.

a)You look at a mixture of letters and numbers in delight and decide you'll decipher it later. Bess in your study group needs help with a situation at work and you know just the right answer to that question so you try to help her and end up talking to the entire study group. Oh wait, this is a study group? You're serious? Nobody told me!

b)You stare at the book trying to figure out why the put the alphabet into the mix when you were just getting the concept of "Imaginary numbers" and ignore your study group partners who are talking about their latest job related issue- whatever those are. You're just trying to get your numbers and letters separated to understand this new code they flung at you.

2: Now choose the personality closest to you.

a)You prefer to talk to people and hear the equations on the board out loud. Forget reading it.

b)You would like to focus if SOMEBODY would stop yakking in your ear, thank you very much!

Congratulations, you are a motor-mouth that needs a tutor!

Congratulations, you are a stick-in-the-mud that needs a tutor!

But don't despair, there is more. You can bring back your reputation. (Maybe. Some of you are hopeless. And if you just got mad you might want to walk away now because you are about to get PO'd.)

So, here's what you do. You take the first test and practice your hardest over the weekend using your handy-dandy sister who took different notes then yours.

Now you compare the notes.

And guess what. . .

Test day rolls around.

You take the test.

You get through with a second to spare and wipe your forehead in relief.

You go home and forget all about what you just learned and move one. Then the next week, you get back the test results.

And you're wrong. You ask to see what your sister got and SURPRISE!

You're both wrong. In fact, you both got the exact same problems wrong, only in different steps and stages.

At this step it is best to throw up your white flag of surrender and trudge over to the tutor sheepishly. He'll say one word and understanding will fill you. (Honestly, it's a miracle. Just one sentence can change the entire picture. This is the reason College Algebra is the hardest class in the book.)

Now you go back, look over your homework in surprise and. . .

No, you didn't win the lottery. No you aren't right.

Yes, indeedy. Hate to tell you this, college student, but you have to do the entire mess over again.

Yup.

All over.

From the beginning.

The stuff's due the next day!

So you crack your knuckles and it's crunch time.

At the end of the night you stumble towards your bed, close your eyes, sigh in relief, and then the alarm goes off.

Oh, well.

There's always another day of more homework ahead. No biggy.

This is the life of a college student. Get used to it or die trying. In the end you'll be glad you did it and forget most of it, (Unless you're a brainiac and then the question really is, why are you wasting your time reading this when you could be checking out the latest edition of a Pythagorean Triangle poster on Ebay?)

Enough said.

A disclaimer: The information is factual. Only two people were harmed in the making of this essay. And all that was harmed was their intellect.

I should know.

When my sister and I were learning how to read, we were both given the same book and used the same teachers. (Mum and Dad, should you ask.)

I was shown the letter "A".

"This is A." My mum said, pointing.

I looked at it, memorized it. "OK. What's next? B. Hm. I see. That's B. As in Bird. Great. Anything else?"

Yet show the same letter to my sister and her response was, "What does 'A' taste like? What does it mean? How does this affect my life? Why does it affect my life? What color is it? Can I get a bucket of A? Then why does it matter that I learn what 'A' if it is a symbol?"

I took A, B, C, D, E, F, ect, ect, at face value. They were letters and letters were the sounds we made. Got it, great. What's next?

Wonderful!

My sister, not so much. "A? Is it a relative of B? So is C their son or daughter?" She was a philosopher from diaper days. Hasn't changed much, she's just not wearing diapers. She's hilarious though, when she's not analyzing your latest style of clothing so that she can improve it better. . .

"Numbers, huh? Aw, they're pretty! What, they aren't decorations? So they are useful in life? They mean something? They DO?! How?" This is her response to math.

Skip ahead to college days, yes, farther, farther, FARTHER, STOP!

Yes, this classroom. At the end of the hall. Yeah.

You see the two similar-in-appearance siblings bent over the same copy of the same book?

Good. Now you see the one who's scrunching up her eyebrows and chewing on her pencil as the professor is writing on the board? That's my sister. She's trying to figure out what to do.

Now you see the other one, bent over the book? That's me.

This is what my sister's thoughts are: "What is he saying? What does he really mean?"

These are my thoughts: "Wait a second, how did letters get into this? Letters are sounds we make, while numbers are symbols that represent amounts. And they've been mixed?!"

But don't worry. With the right tutor, this will all make sense. Eventually.

And if it doesn't. . . Welcome to the club.