Valuable lessons can be learned at school

CRESCO - Hello readers! This is your sports editor, Nate, typing furiously from the legendary Times Plain Dealer office on North Elm Street in Cresco. Hope everyone is having a great day!
It’s hard to believe we are in November already and the fall sports seasons are over. Although there are technically a few more weeks of fall left, old man winter has already poked his head into fall with some snow and cold weather last week.
Fall has always been the favorite season for my wife, Sara, and me. The leaves changing colors and the crisp, cool air after a long, hot summer are always welcome. We also like fall because it gives us a chance to visit our college alma maters during homecoming weekend in October. I, of course, am a proud Duhawk (Loras College Class of 1994) while Sara is a Norse (Luther College Class of 2000). 
During the first weekend of October, we had a chance to visit both colleges during their homecoming weekends; first going to Dubuque on Saturday to visit Loras and my dad, who lives near Dubuque; and then going to Luther on Sunday.
During our visit to Loras, we walked around campus for about an hour. Sara’s favorite part was visiting the new four-story library, which was built about 10 years after I graduated. The former library, which was there when I was a student, is still  on campus, but it almost looks like a phone booth compared to the new library.
We also found the classroom in the basement of Keane Hall, where I took a political science class my freshman year during the fall of 1990. There is nothing particularly special about the classroom. However, one specific assignment I had in this class has evolved into Troy family legend over the years. If you’ll indulge me for a few minutes, I’ll explain.
First, I need to tell you that the professor of this class had a middle eastern accent because he wasn’t from the United States. I’m not sure what country he was from.
Anyway, a few weeks into the semester, following his lecture, he assigned the class to write a term paper about the political climate in Russia, due in early November. He told us the paper should be four-to-five pages in length. However, what I heard, because of his accent, was ‘forty-five pages.’ 
Now, keep in mind, I’m 18-years-old at the time and just getting my feet wet in college. When the professor mentioned the length of the paper, no one else in class batted an eye or said one word about it. My first thought was, “Holy fudge!” (Only fudge wasn’t the real word I was thinking about). But when no one else complained, I thought, “Well, maybe this is normal in college.” Plus, he did give us about eight weeks to complete the paper, which seemed like enough time.
Another thing to consider about this time period (1990) is that Loras College had all of 12 computers in a small room in the basement of one of the dorms, which required people to sign up several days in advance to reserve time to use a computer. Plus, there was NO Internet on the campus.
Luckily for me, my parents had bought me an electric typewriter before I started the semester, so I had that going for me. 
However, to do the research, I had to spend hours in the old library on campus, looking for magazine stories or books on the subject of Russian politics. After writing rough drafts in notebooks, I started typing the paper - page by agonizingly slow page.
By late October, I had typed about 30 pages. However, I was getting close to the deadline and I wasn’t sure if I could come up with 15 more pages of material.
So, I sheepishly called the professor and asked if I could meet with him to talk about the term paper. I went to his office and told him I didn’t think I could get to 45 pages.
When he heard this, he said, “No, I meant four-to-five pages. How many pages have you written so far?” I told him I had written about 30 pages and he said, “Stop, now!! Don’t write any more pages, please!!”
Needless to say, I felt kind of stupid at the time but I was also relieved that I didn’t have to work on that darn paper anymore. One sidenote: I got a ‘B’ on that term paper, mainly because I think the professor didn’t want to read 30 pages worth of B.S.
I guess the one lesson I learned from all of this is that it’s all right to ask questions in school. Even if you think it might be a dumb question, ask it anyway.
My family and Sara have heard this story many times over the past 33 years and it usually makes them laugh. But that’s OK. I can laugh about it now, too.

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