i.e. Mrs. Victoria Landers' way of saying, "I haven't taught you how to do this, and even if I did, you wouldn't understand it. But anyways, here you go!" Attempting the "old college try" always results in uncontrolled rage and frustration rather than learning. This condition is only augmented by trying to find help in the textbook, "Calculus: Graphical, Numerical, Algebraic," possibly the epitome of a horrible textbook.
Disgruntled student: "FUCK YOU MRS. LANDERS. I haven't learned shit all semester, and doubt I'm going to start learning by giving it the old college try like your whore ass tells me to." (Flips the bird)
Dad: It's when you gather your friends, buy some cheap beer, order a pizza, and forget about tomorrow.
Mom: That is NOT what it means.
Dad: Where did you go to college?
Babe Ruth (_Babe Ruth's Own Book of Baseball_, 1928) defined "giving it the old college try" as "playing to the grandstand or making strenuous effort to field a ball that obviously cannot be handled."
The term was quickly applied to any effort with limited chances of success.
From _The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary_ (1999) by Paul Dickson.