Were You Born A Classhole? (Or Did You Work At It Your Whole Life?)

Please! Call on me!  Hmmmmmmmm!At BU, they’re called classholes. At many other schools, gunners. Still others have no title but are reserved a snide look and a withheld invitation to any social invitation outside of the law school.

Want a visualization? Think about varying degrees of Dwight K. Schrute.

I don’t know when or how it started, but these brown-nosing, overachieving, socially inept book worms have an undeserved bad reputation in law school.

Classholes are easily recognizable after about a month of class – before that, it’s just the social order of your law school section settling out. There are varying standards for identifying your section’s classhole, but here is a non-exclusive list of identifying traits, listed in increasing levels of intensity:

  • Volunteering to answer questions in more than one class per day on a regular basis, or more than twice in the same week. For most classes, participation doesn’t count towards your grade, so why bother?
  • Opening your textbook in class and “incidentally” showing off your ability to use four different colored highlighters while reading to your peers.
  • Running up to a professor after class to ask questions. This is the exact reason why most faculty members give their office hours, email address, and phone number to their students – so that a reasonable discourse can occur in a more comfortable place than a classroom and not while he/she feels drained right after giving a 90 minute lecture.
  • Once called on, beginning a response with “Well, I feel that…” No one in your class cares what you think about efficient breach unless they ask you. That’s why they’re paying $36,000 a year to listen to a professor give educated opinions instead of a half-baked philosophy you put together while watching Law and Order.

The other important given rule is that if you cannot identify the biggest classhole in your class in six weeks, it’s you. Either that, or you’re in some sort of Twilight Zone School of Law (note: not an accredited institution).

As you may have inferred, classholes are generally looked down upon in the law school social caste system. The term is muttered with more than just disdain; there is often a genuine disgust when a classhole’s behavior is brought up in a conversation. Eyes are rolled when the professors (often reluctantly) call on classholes, and the attention span of an entire classroom is killed in a single bound. It’s almost a contest to identify the most classholes the quickest and to single them out the fastest.

On that note, though, it seems like a good part of the indignation and disgust is rooted in good old fashioned envy. There’s a reason classholes keep doing what they are doing – it works. Sure, there are probably more efficient ways of studying and getting good grades, but most of the classholes (not all, mind you) have grades that match their effort and get jobs, even in this market, that reflect their academics success.

As for me, my grades are good, but not classhole-level good. Maybe my new year’s resolutions will include a pledge to start bolting towards the lecture podium.