Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Advice to College Freshmen

Throughout my three and a half years of college, I've learned a lot. No, not that kind of learning, silly. I go to a liberal arts college. I've learned a lot about college. If nothing else comes from my college experience besides a degree that won't get me a job, I can at least spread my wisdom on to future generations.

When I started college, I felt I was not prepared. I'd heard stories and gotten advice from people but it did not help at all. Now, I know why it did not help. Because they were lying. Everyone, except me, is going to lie to you about college. Why? They can not find a job that requires their degree and start applying to various service positions . They do not want to compete with you for the job so they send you to college for four years with fairy tales that they have created in the hours of free time they have between writing cover letters and going to job interviews.

I promise I'm not lying to you. I want to help you. I know what you're thinking- "But you admittedly fail at life. Why should I listen to you?" Because the best advice on how to succeed comes from a failure. Ask someone who is successful how they did it. They'll say something like "I prayed and trusted in God" or "With lots of support from my family" or "I was lucky" or "lots of hard work and determination." I call bologna on all these responses. I've failed and can tell you how not to fail. And if you don't fail, then you succeed. It's sound logic. You're welcome.

Myth: It's all right to be undecided about your major when you are a freshman.

Truth: Choose your major by the end of the first semester of freshman year at the latest.

They are going to tell you that it's natural to remain undecided in your freshman year. Um, no. First day of classes, every other freshman you meet will tell you their chosen major, minor and/or double major, and where they are going to go to grad school in four years. You're still trying to decide whether chicken or beef is your favorite flavor of ramen.

If you don't choose your major by the end of fall semester freshman year, you are so totally screwed. There is always going to be a course you should have taken but didn't that was only offered your first semester or you won't be able to get enough credits in your major/minor or something. It's a known fact that the only thing that all the offices and departments in colleges communicate about is how to screw over students.

Myth: Never put a paper off until the night before it is due.

Truth: Always put a paper off until the night/morning before it is due.

Professors will tell you that there is no way to finish this paper the night before. It is not possible. You will fail. People have tried and they have failed. Except, people have tried and they've done just fine. You see, most students believe that this is a warning from the professor. It's not. It's a challenge. It's impossible to finish this paper the night before and get a good grade? I'll show you, Professor. Just think how impressed they will be that you were able to write something that brilliant in one night. They will have new found respect for you. They will want you to give them advice about writing papers. Also, you get to use the old "I have to write this 10 page paper that's due tomorrow" as an excuse to get out of floor meetings or hanging out with the crazy person down the hall or talking to your parents on the phone.

To be fair, the maximum you can do the night before is 10-12 pages. Possibly 15 pages if you're really good and don't require sleep.

Myth: Real college students drink every night especially on the nights before big papers are due (see above).

Truth: There will be little to no time to drink. Also, Thirsty Thursdays are for douchebags.

Real college students do not drink every night unless they are alcoholics. Lots of college students drink over the weekend. A good number drink on Thursday nights. We call those people douchebags. Well, not everyone who drinks on Thursday is a douche but most are. The people who still have classes on Friday but drink on Thursday night anyway are total douches. The people who have parties on Thursday nights because they don't have class on Friday but fail to take into consideration that other people on the floor might have class and not want drunk people being all kinds of obnoxious right outside their door are complete douchebags. The people who when drunk on any night of the week decide that the funnest thing in the whole world would be to set off a fire extinguisher or punch holes in the walls are equal parts complete douchebag and total asshat. Do not be these people.

Myth: High school sucked and college will be so much better.

Truth: High school sucked, college is more of the same suckiness and chances are real life is not better.

This myth will not die. First, we're told that high school is the best time of your life. Half way through high school, they finally let us in on the joke that that was a lie. But don't worry. College is really the best time of your life. We are total suckers for believing their lies again.

I enjoyed high school but would not say it was the best time of my life. At least, I hope that was not the best time of my life. There was a lot of unnecessary drama among my group of friends. People needed to mature and the consensus seemed to be that people would stop being immature once they entered college. False. People who were immature in high school stay immature in college. It's also likely that they will have access to alcohol (see above).

Immaturity + alcohol = unnecessary drama

College is like high school but worse because you are paying lots of money to be there. Also, your stupidity is documented on Facebook. But I guess that point is moot because everyone is on Facebook and networks don't matter anymore. I think most people stopped posting drunk pictures from frat parties when their grandma friended them on Facebook.

Myth: You will learn so much from hearing other students' opinions.

Truth: Most people's opinions are wrong and you will learn nothing from them

Just because someone is in college does not mean they are smart or enlightened. But because they are in college, they believe that everything they say is brilliant. Anyone who thinks they are saying something that is brilliant is not saying anything that is worth hearing. They will think that what you have to say is stupid and that you are the most ignorant person in the world. You will not care at all. You just want to take a nap. You have three options to get out of this situation: 1) Debate them. Eventually one of you will run out of things to say. Or someone else will join the debate and you can leave while they are distracted. 2) Nod your head as though you agree and leave while they are patting themselves on the back for converting you over to their side. 3) Punch them in the face. Wait a moment as everyone around you applauds. Then leave.

Myth: All your college/ university cares about is giving you a good education.

Truth: All they want is your money and will sacrifice your education to get it.

When you go for a campus visit or when you go to orientation, everyone who gets paid by the university will tell you how education is the most important thing and everyone there is there to make sure that you get the best education. They may even throw around phrases like "affordable education." They know that this is what your parents want to hear. They know that this is what the Tracy Flicks of the world want to hear. The thing is, it's not true.

Your university worships money. Sure, they will give you an education in exchange for thousands of dollars. If this were a MasterCard commercial, they would say that a good education is priceless. But colleges and universities around the world have managed to put large price tags on education. It's a clever scheme. Make you think that an education is so invaluable then they offer to give you an education and charge obscene amounts of money.

If you do not pay the obscene amounts of money, they get very angry. They won't let you register for classes. They will withhold your grades. They will start charging you late fees because the best way to get a poor person to pay their already late bill is to charge them more. If you can, pay your tuition on line because the internet is nicer than the people who work in your university's office. They just don't seem to understand that some people just don't have the money especially in these difficult economic times. Fast food places had recession deals on their food long before my college even acknowledged that there was a recession.

Myth: You will gain the Freshman 15.

Truth: You are more likely to lose 10-15 pounds.

Everyone talks about the Freshman 15. Because obviously the first thing you want to do when getting to college is eat nothing but junk food. Well, yes, you will eat junk food and probably more than you would eat at home. But junk food can get to be expensive. You know what's cheap. Ramen. Also, as a freshman, you will eat most of your meals in the dining hall. The food will not be that good but the upperclassmen will insist that it is better than what it used to be. Chances are that you won't overeat.

You may think that you will exercise to make sure that you don't gain weight. This will not happen. You will take a nap instead. Never fear, you will spend a large part of the first semester running around campus trying to figure out where you are. That counts as exercise, right? You will also take the stairs often because you don't have time to wait for the elevator since you forgot to set an alarm to wake you up from your nap. You'll be 10 pounds lighter just in time to gain it all back over Christmas break.

Myth: Finals week is so stressful.

Truth: Finals week is when you will finally have time to go to the movies and play video games.

Yes, you will have spent large portions of your weekends playing video games but finals week is when you finally can beat those video games. You only need to go to each class only once that week if you have to go at all. You might have to sacrifice a night or two of finals week to write a paper or two or three. But the rest of the time is fair game to do whatever. No more required reading. You can read your comics for hours if you want. You can have a dance party. You can take a nap.

Other helpful hints:

Do not take a nap in your dorm room.

The dorms are the worst place to take a nap. It will be too noisy. You may still want to take a nap there because that is where your bed is. However, if you want a quiet place to nap, go to the library. Now, I know that the library is not always the quietest place but there is always a quiet corner somewhere. Look for the section with the oldest and biggest books. That is the quietest corner. You will be able to identify it by all the people taking naps there.

Do not confront your roommate if you are having a problem with them.

It is likely that you are living in a closet sized room with this person. Problems with them will occur. It will be their fault. If you bring it up, they will probably just get angrier because they think since it is their room too, they should be able to do whatever they like even if it is incredibly annoying. Instead, have a passive aggressive fight with them. If they want the window open, close it. If they want to listen to music without head phones, play your music louder. The only exception to this rule is if your roommate eats your Girl Scout cookies. The relationship between a person and their Girl Scout cookies is sacred. If someone violates this relationship, that person is responsible for what happens to them.

Buy lots of underwear.

Most colleges send you a recommended list of supplies that you will need when living in a dorm. Ignore this list. All you really need besides things you already own is lots more underwear. When you get to school, you will discover that you own lots of shirts. You will also discover that you do not care about wearing the same pants 7 times before washing them. How often you have to do laundry depends upon how many pairs of underwear you own. The best time to do laundry is Friday night. Sure, you might want to have fun on a Friday, but you won't have to wait for a washer or dryer and no one will take your clothes out because you didn't come back the second the timer went off. Sacrifice a Friday every once in a while. If you have lots of underwear, you might only have to do laundry once a semester.

Congratulations on your acceptance to college. Good luck. It will be the best time of your life.


  1. This is probably one of your best posts and I totally wish someone would have given me this four years ago. But myth number 3 isn't entirely true. I wrote my first freshman seminar paper half cut and I got an A. Although it was for PKT and he probably graded them under the influence. The douchebag part is true though. And on the contrary, I have learned a lot from other students' opinions. I have learned that the world is full of ignorant assholes and I am lucky to at least know my head from my ass on a good day. And passive aggressive is always the way to go.

  2. You are not a douche and/or asshat if drinking on Thursdays is part of your movie night drinking game. That is the only exception to this rule. Also, in addition to comics and video games during finals week, it is one of the best times to re-read the DC Encyclopedia and memorize characters' heights and weights because you do not know the next time you will have access to said encyclopedia.