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30 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do by the Time They Turn 18

When you turn 18, that usually means you’re about to graduate. You’re about to be released into the world, unshackled at last. But you don’t make it to the end of the labyrinthine chaos bog also known as high school without learning a thing or two, and I’m not talking about the fact that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell or something about polynomials. 

No, I’m talking about the skills you acquire without even realizing it, the know-how you’ve gathered by accident, the aptitude you possess simply by virtue of being a student. Here are 30 things you should definitely know how to do if you ever attended high school and lived to tell the tale:

1. Pretend you’re taking extremely detailed notes so the teacher doesn’t call on you.

2. Calculate how badly you can do on the final exam and still pass.

3. Make meaningful eye contact with your friend across the classroom when the teacher says you can pick your partners.

4. Look JUST enthusiastic enough that the gym teacher thinks you’re participating.

5. Quell the rising panic and existential ennui you’ll only ever feel when you encounter a multiple-choice question that contains both “All of the above” and “None of the above” as potential answers.

6. Explain to your teacher how to disable YouTube autoplay.

7. Suppress your fight or fight response when someone asks “Hey, did you finish the homework?” and you didn’t even know there was homework.

8. Ask to go to the bathroom in a way that doesn’t suggest it’s actually code for DO DRUGS or SET SOMETHING ON FIRE, which is apparently what your teacher assumes you’ll be doing.

9. Find the homework on Yahoo Answers.

10. Fill your taco at lunch with the correct ratio of “mystery meat” to “ingredients you recognize as legitimate foodstuffs.”

11. Change the date on your homework so it looks like you started it days before you actually did.

12. Chew your gum inconspicuously enough so that people won’t notice and ask if they can have a piece.

13. Stare daggers at the kid who’s grading your assignment and raises his hand to ask the teacher if your answer is “close enough.”

14. Find a pencil in the anarchic mess of loose junk that has coalesced in the bottom of your backpack.

15. Heighten your senses when someone’s posing a whispered question to the teacher during an exam.

16. Gather your pencils, textbooks, and other supplies at the end of class as unobtrusively as possible. (Failure to do so will result in the teacher saying things like “The bell doesn’t dismiss you, I dismiss you.”)

17. Make eye contact with the teacher in a way that is earnest and engaged rather than confused and frightened. (They can sense fear, they thrive on it, and they will call on you.)

18. Write an essay the night before it’s due about a book you barely understood.

19. Calculate the amount of sleep you will get if you fall asleep right this second.

20. Text your group members “Hey, did you finish your part of the project?” in a way that is friendly and direct without being patronizing. Otherwise, they will leave you on read and let the whole project collapse out of pure, unbridled spite.

21. Set five different alarms every morning with messages that range in urgency from “Wake up” to “THE BUS IS COMING, FORGET ABOUT BREAKFAST, JUST PUT ON SOME PANTS.”

22. Ask increasingly complicated questions at the end of class so the teacher forgets to collect the homework.

23. Shun the kid who raises his hand to say, “Didn’t we have homework?”

24. Bypass the school’s Internet filters so you can surreptitiously look things up on Urban Dictionary and act like you already knew what they meant.

25. Walk into class a few seconds late like you were doing something extremely important and cool.

26. Waste time switching between social media apps on your phone at 10 PM on a Sunday night, blithely ignoring your responsibilities.

27. When the teacher asks if you understand what they just explained to you, nod vigorously in a way that is also believable.

28. Ask your teacher if they’ve finished grading the midterms yet in a way that won’t cause them to murder you on the spot.

29. Juggle school, homework, friends, family, band, honor society, sports, and maybe a significant other or a part-time job.

30. Answer the question “How’s school going?” with coherent sentences rather than just a haunted, faraway scream as your eyes go black and your dreams turn to ash.