I love wearing a tie.
My sophomore year, I woke up one morning in a fantastic mood. Couldn't tell you why, I was just feeling good. I decided to wear a tie that day. No particular reason, just felt like it. I put on my charcoal suit along with my orange and white paisley tie.
When I walked into my engineering fundamentals class that morning, I was greeted by my friends with, "Hey Nate, are you ready for the exam today?" To which I responded, "The exam is next week."
I was wrong.
Moments later, I was necktie deep in this exam. Of the roughly 40 topics that could've been covered in that class, the exam had maybe seven or eight. I probably had a full understanding of a quarter of that material. Luckily, the questions on that exam fell within that 25 percent.
I beat the class average by a healthy margin, and I cannot help but think it was the suit. I should have failed that exam, leading to a terrible grade in my first engineering class, leading to a probable change in majors. But the luck of that day has carried me through to the point I'm at now – a senior with graduation looming in less than two months.
That day started a tradition for me that is one of my trademark quirks – I wear suits to exams. Even when I was studying abroad, I dressed up for exams. This was particularly hilarious on the MV Explorer – the cruise ship for Semester at Sea – because I wore shorts and a button down with a bow-tie. But for roughly the last four years, every time I have set out two extra pencils, written my name down on the front page and waited for the instruction "Begin," I have been wearing a tie.
Maybe it's good luck. Maybe it's a confidence boost. Maybe it's superstition. Maybe I'm just weird.
A few years ago on my way from Japanese class to an engineering exam, a girl from the former class was busting my chops about wearing a suit to exams. She claimed that it was stupid and a waste of time. Mid explanation, she was interrupted by a friend of mine, "Good Luck on your exam today, Nate!"
I felt the satisfaction of someone else making my point for me better than I ever could.
When I wear a suit, I feel turned up the entire time. Power Suit, Power Tie, Power T. I feel confident because people don't know what I'm up to, and it's funny to watch them try to make a guess, and then find out about my ridiculous tradition.
When you are dressed nicely, it shows that you take whatever you are doing seriously, and that you should be taken seriously. Professors and other students do notice, and I can not imagine a professor preferring the "just rolled out of bed," or "I've been up all night in the library" look.
When I'm trying out a new combination of shirt/suit/tie, I text a girl a picture of it to make sure it looks alright. That always makes them laugh at me, but by-golly I know now not to put a bold striped tie over a plaid shirt. Not to mention I can turn a double-windsor to touch the top of my belt buckle on the first try without a mirror.
I typically get up two to three hours before an exam to have ample time to suit up, which I have realized gives my head time to clear out the cobwebs and tune itself before I go into the exam. This little trick comes highly recommended, because – at least for me – I'm not running at full output for at least a few hours.
So the next time you have an exam, try getting up a little earlier, put on your Sunday best and walk into the exam with your shoulders back and your chin up. Tell everyone you've "got a thing later," and that you're about to beast this exam. You might just do a little better than you expected.
After all, Barney Stinson suits up, and who doesn't love Barney Stinson?
Nate Talbot is a senior in mechanical engineering. He can be reached at email@example.com.