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The Types of Pseudo-Intellectuals You'll Meet in College

Are you thinking of going to college? Have you already gone and been traumatized by the annoying know-it-alls you have found there who follow you around talking too much about just about everything you don't give a damn about?

Well, not me. I've learned to avoid those types by developing the ability over time to quickly identify them and steer clear. For those of you who have had less time to hone these skills, here I present a field guide of sorts for the budding college student, so that you may spare yourself from coming into contact with these mildly irritating species of pseudo-intellectual.

(I've included some illustrations and diagrams to help you further in spotting them. If they're too small, you can click to see them in original size.)

A horribly-drawn cartoon example of what I mean.

A horribly-drawn cartoon example of what I mean.

The Scholar Who Tries too Hard

This is the guy who knows how to play school pretty well, but he has let his success in academia get to his head a little and he's forgotten the fact that school is just a buffer from the cruel real world and that, when you get right down to it, nobody who wants to pay you anything cares if you managed to wade through James Joyce's major works or if you can recite The Divine Comedy backwards and forwards.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with being bookish--only in being flamingly pompous about it to people who don't want to hear you rant about things in an effort to prove how intelligent you are. Most people don't want to hear someone explain Kafka to them for the sole purpose of proving that he understands the incomprehensible--that's why they fall asleep in class when even the professionals try to lecture them.

Unless, of course, one's intention is to become an English professor. Then any pompousness is more than justified.

Yes, that's an iPod in his other hand.

Yes, that's an iPod in his other hand.

Artsy Fartsy non-Conformist Conformist

This type is usually concerned with the visual arts, but not necessarily, and can be taken with literature (poetry in particular) or music, as well. The universal thing this kind has in common, though, is a tendency to fancy themselves "creative" and, more importantly, more creative than most others. They display this creativity and individuality by wearing shirts that say snarky things and by blindly following the latest self-improvement fads.

The native habitat of this kind of individual may be found at any Apple Store, Starbucks, or the New Age section of a Barnes and Noble.

Occasionally prone to passing out bumper stickers for their favorite politician of the moment, but not prone to passing out pamphlets like their more religious counterparts.

Occasionally prone to passing out bumper stickers for their favorite politician of the moment, but not prone to passing out pamphlets like their more religious counterparts.

The Activist

This kind of pseudo-intellectual is easily-identifiable by the overwhelming tendency to strongly believe that he/she is right about everything. Now, thinking that one is right about everything isn't unusual or unexpected of a person, but these sorts of pseudo-intellectuals are special in that they feel the need to express and force those opinions upon everyone they come in contact with.

Everything the activist says, does, or buys has to be some kind of political statement, and they'll be the firsts to loudly proclaim that they're boycotting some store or other, or that they no longer buy some brand of clothes because the combines used to harvest the cotton to make them cruelly run over too many field mice in the process.

An "activist" may be a so-called leftist or a so-called conservative; it doesn't matter. They tend to leans more towards politics than any specific philosophy and almost universally believe that being "well-informed" (i.e. watching the 12 o'clock news which is produced with the very average intelligence of the masses in mind) makes a person "smart" and that people who are less informed or don't care are like the average "dumb American." These people also like to talk about how this or that country is better than the one in which they currently live, but you'll rarely see them do the obvious thing and just move there and shut up about it.

In case you didn't realize, the leprechaun is sliding down his speech bubble like a hill. Just through I'd clear that up.

In case you didn't realize, the leprechaun is sliding down his speech bubble like a hill. Just through I'd clear that up.

The Romantic Drug Addict

A user of more "romantic" drugs, like cannabis or any number of hallucinogens that may have been popular with hippies, who believes he is enlightened and intellectual because he has chosen these over the more common and less romantic mind-altering substances like alcohol. They will often be Buddhist, or some sort of religion not shared by their parents. This sort of individual will occasionally believe he has happened upon some great wisdom, but because he is never sober, he doesn't realize that his babblings while he was high actually make no sense.

There's some overlap with the Artsy Fartsy non-Conformist Conformist.

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Hopefully, now you know how to spot these and steer clear. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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Mara Alexander from Los Angeles, California on March 15, 2015:

Interesting. I'm a Freshman in college, and haven't run into any of the extreme ones yet, and I live in the dorms

I think we're all too new at this to even pay attention to the personalities of others. Maybe next year :)

Olivia Pellerito on October 21, 2014:

This is great! And it certainly applies to more than just college. I can think of a number of people from high school and some of my previous jobs I've had that are like that.

Jorge Vamos (author) on October 10, 2014:


Stop being a judgmental douche.

Kong on August 24, 2014:


You dropped out because you didn't like some classmates? Wow, quite the rational action...

cestmonvie on August 01, 2011:

Thank you for making my day. Im a college dropout because of these people. I actually have a name for each cartoon (people who said things scarily similar) but il be nice ^_^ Also know that there is another group, the grad student teacher who cant decide to be your friend or teacher. They end up disliking the whole class because the students are not likely to pick friend.

attemptedhumour from Australia on February 27, 2011:

Try going to a University party, as i did and being asked what you were studying and answering, truthfully. Vehicle bodybuilding and experiencing that stunned silence. Just one group in that room beginning with W. cheers

XactScienZ from UTAH on February 27, 2011:

Ha Ha ha so true. Love it!

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