My cousin Tracy is about to start school, so I thought I would share with her some of my wisdom of what to look forward to, and what to look out for as she embarks on her way to higher education.
Sadly, the next 4 years of your life will be over before you even know it. And without your knowing it, these are about to be the greatest four years of your life. After you graduate, you will never again have as much fun in as short a time as you will while at College. And sadly, you will not appreciate it until long after it’s gone.
For the rest of your life after you graduate, every really funny and interesting story you tell will start with the words, “This one time, in College…”
So, in the hopes of helping you get the most out of your college experience, here’s what I learned after my four years. Of course, I started college in 1988, not long after you were born, but I have a funny feeling that things haven’t changed much.
Your room is your home, in more ways that one. Since your old room will probably be rented out while you are gone, you have no place else to go. You will of course want to decorate the Dorm room to make it more personal, but if there is anything that you keep in your room that is expensive, fragile, or incredibly meaningful; throw it in the garbage now. It will not survive your freshman year. And it will make you very upset when it is gone. Over the course of your first semester you will be so excited by the prospect of being on your own and independent that you will probably not lock your door much, and you will have no less than 300 people visiting you in your room each day. At some point, someone will knock something over, or start tossing a ball around, or just up and steal your stuff. By the time you learn to lock your stuff up and not let stupid people in your room, you will have already graduated about 3 years earlier. So in the meantime, keep the expensive stuff at home. At least when it gets broken, thrown out, or stolen there, you can whine and someone in your family may actually turn it into a cash gift.
Decorate tastefully, and remember that anything that you glue to the wall, paint on the wall, or that damages the wall when you remove it, you will be charged for. And the school charges a lot. Also note that anything that your dorm-mates glue, paint or attach to your wall, you will also be charged for. And I assure you, someone, sometime, will paint something on or glue something to your wall. So I advise sneaking into their unlocked rooms; stealing their expensive, personal items; breaking their fragile stuff; painting their walls; and then gluing their meaningful crap to the ceiling. Get them before they have a chance to get you! That’ll teach them!
Ten years after I graduated from College, I still saw about 10 of my friends that I had made there. I only saw 1 friend from High School anymore, and none from my life before that. The friends you make at College are the ones that you will most likely carry with you through the rest of your life. And about 5 years after graduating you will find that you almost never make new friends. You peak on your friend making abilities over the next four years, and lose the ability to make more for some reason, so be sure to choose wisely. Not to say that everyone you meet at College will be your bestest friend forever, in fact, half the people you meet your freshman year, you will never see again. Most of them will flunk out, and others will transfer to other schools, and still others will just avoid you at all costs if they see you on campus for the next four years. I know I would.
Don’t believe me? Get a list of names of everyone in your Dorm. Second semester see how many are still left. And then when you come back for your sophomore year, try and track down the survivors. You’ll be shocked to see who doesn’t return.
Also remember, the friends you make at College will also stab you in the back no less than 15 times over the next four years. Why? Why not. It’s college. People do stupid things. But you will forgive them, and they will still be your friend for many years to come.
You’re too young to drink! Of course, that won’t stop you. And I’m not going to pretend you’re not going to drink, but I will give you the best part of 15 years of drinking experience.
Drinking is supposed to be fun. The drinks are supposed to taste good, and it’s more fun to have a steady buzz over the course of the night than to shotgun as many drinks as possible in under a minute and then pass out in a puddle of your own sick.
Never drink out of an unlabelled bottle. People make their own drinks all the time, but most of the time it’s only being made to get you f’d up, and they taste like crap. See Parties below.
Don’t do shots. Shots are also a waste of time. Too much alcohol, too fast, and tastes like crap. Again, just to get you f’d up.
Mixed drinks can be yummy if made by a professional bartender who knows what they are doing. You won’t be finding any of those for a while. The moron who thinks he is improving the drink by pouring in double the amount of Vodka that is supposed to be in the drink, is really just trying to get you drunk as quickly as possible. Avoid him at all costs.
Beer is your best friend. Stick with it, and you will have a lot less problems. Be sure to only drink beer from a bottle or can that you open yourself. Sadly, there are a lot of sick people in the world, and there is a chance someone will put something naughty in your drink, so to be safe, don’t let your drink out of your sight, and make sure your drinks are opened by you.
The chances of you getting into a bar anytime soon are so slim, there’s no point in talking about it.
When I was in school, a lot of my friends smoked pot, a few dropped acid, and occasionally there was some coke going around. Of course, unlike all those after school specials, no one ever shared. I always found it odd that every movie and TV show had people offering drugs to all their friends. In my day, your drugs were your drugs. If someone wanted some, too bad. The only way to get someone to share was to go with them to the bad neighborhoods to buy it with them.
Well, actually, they did share, but only with girls, not with other guys.
Due to the crazy amount of freedom in College, a lot of people would literally just sit in their Dorm room and smoke up all day long. Out of 40 people who were on my floor my first semester, only 30 came back after winter break, and only 15 made it to sophomore year. Why? Because sitting around getting high is not a class.
Whatever you want to do in moderation is your own business, but once it becomes a habit, you’re screwed. And by the time you realize it’s become a problem, you will have already flunked out and be living at home again.
If you thought there was drama and backstabbing and soap opera style hi-jinx in High School, wait until you see what goes on in College. Everyone will be dating everyone else, or screwing around, and everything in between. You will get your heart broken a bunch of times, and want to kill someone at least once a month. Don’t do it.
No matter how “forever” you think the relationship you are in will be, it won’t last. I only know one person who actually ended up marrying his College girlfriend. Of course, they cheated on each other A LOT before graduation, and probably even more after. But, hey, that’s what college is all about. So don’t take it to heart. One thing to remember is that College guys often forget to tell their girlfriends that they’ve broken up with them. They just assume that you’ll figure it out when you see them with their new girlfriends. It’s a guy thing.
And of course, when you do break-up “officially” with someone, it will be totally mutual. Or at least that’s what you’ll tell people. He’ll tell everyone you’re a psycho. Again, it’s a guy thing.
You won’t find any of those until you’re about 30. In the meantime, you’re stuck with boys. Boys are stupid. Incredibly stupid. They have only one agenda. Sex. That’s it. They are rude, inconsiderate, and… well… stupid. You will assume you can change him, and straighten him out and turn him into a normal guy, but you are wrong. If anything, you will lay down the groundwork, and get him to start acting more human, and then you’ll break up and some other girl will reap the benefit of all your hard work.
Get used to it.
Before you become some drunk College guys last resort, here’s what you need to know about College sex. EVERYONE will know EVERYONE you sleep with. No matter how much he promises to keep his mouth shut, he will kiss and tell. Plus, the walls in those Dorm rooms are pretty thin.
Please don’t have sex while your roommate is in the room. Nothing is more annoying than trying to sleep while that is going on in the top bunk. And it’s in very bad taste. Or so I've heard.
Protection. Very important. Buy a stun gun. Stun anyone who touches you. You are protected.
Here is a short list of the lies you will invariably hear over the course of your four years, and on into the rest of your life:
“I want to express my love for you physically”
“A guy can die from blue balls”
“Just the tip”
“I promise I’ll pull out”
“I just want to feel you”
“I’ll put it in for a second”
I think you get the hint. Boys will try desperately, and you will hear these lines often. It’s all lies. These are standard lines used to coerce a girl into going all the way. If you fall for it, you’re dumber than I thought.
You may think I’m joking, but the first time you hear one of those lines, you’ll think of me, and then probably never have sex again.
Condoms. A must. There is no sex without a condom. Forget about disease for a moment (though there is a very good chance of catching something in college), there is a great chance of getting pregnant. My senior year my school made the news when a girl tried to flush her newly born baby down the toilet. I knew her, and had no idea she was pregnant. But she was. It does happen. And of course, College boys have no control, so without a condom, there’s a HUGE chance of getting pregnant.
Of course, boys will try to talk you out of making them wear one. You will hear all sorts of excuses:
“It takes away all the feeling”
Something about a raincoat at the beach or something.
The truth is, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. Especially for the amount of security it gives you, it’s more than worth it. And remind them, that without a condom, all they get to feel is their hand.
Another trick they will try is saying they want to start without a condom, but that they’ll stop and put one on in a minute. Truth is, it’s not going to last a minute, and he knows it. All lies.
Unless you want to be a teenage mom, don’t let that thing near you unless it’s wrapped in rubber.
My one regret about College is that I didn’t take enough pictures. Back then, we didn’t have digital cameras, so taking pictures was expensive, and complicated. But now, it’s easy, so be sure to take pictures constantly, and don’t delete them! No matter how much that person pisses you off later!
And of course, don’t let any guy take naughty pics of you, unless you want them on the internet.
If you have one, everyone is your best friend. And they will all want you to drive them here, and drop them off there, and pick them up this. Tell them to go to hell. Don’t drive no one, no where. If you do, pretend your car is a Nightclub Taxi. Charge $5 to get in the door, $2.50 for the first mile, and $1 each mile after that. Otherwise, you will spend all your time chauffeuring people around. When you tell people “no”, they will whine and say things like, “If I had a car, I would drive you wherever you wanted to go”. This is a lie. They would leave you standing on the side of the road in the freezing rain and laugh at you if they could. Then they would splash you with that ice water puddle. Screw it; charge them $10 at the door!
If you don’t have a car, you’re screwed. Make friends with someone who has a car, and make them drive you everywhere you need to go. If they complain, remind them that if you had a car, you would drive them anywhere they needed to go. If you look sincere enough, they should fall for it, and drive you anywhere you want.
Once upon a time, there were no laws regarding smoking, so anyone could buy them, and you could smoke them anywhere. Nowadays, things have changed, and smoking in the dorms will be a nightmare, and there will always be someone with asthma whining about the smell and bitching that you’re killing them.
Since you have no money, the thought of wasting what money you don’t have to buy cigarettes seems insane. Once upon a time, they were $1.50 per pack, so it wasn’t so bad. But with the way the prices have sky rocketed, even I quit. So don’t smoke.
If you don’t have one, you are pretty much screwed. Though, when I was in College, I didn’t see my first computer until my senior year, and that was an Apple IIe. With its black and white screen, it was little more than a big typewriter. Also, back in those days there was no such thing as an “internet”, so we actually had to go out to study, or research, or look for pornography. Oh, the horror of the olden days!!
Each class will tell you what chapter of the book you are covering that day in class, and what you will be covering in the next class. The simplest way to keep up with what is going on is, after class, read the current day’s chapter, and then the next chapter. This will review what went on in class that day, and will give you a basic understanding of what is going on next week. Keep this up, and even pop quizzes will be no problem for you.
Of course, you will have many friends telling you to forget studying and just cram for tests. Let THEM do that. Don’t let them bring you down.
Papers are a pain. With the Internet, you can probably buy most papers, though it’s easy to get caught. You will also be tempted to pay someone to do your papers for you, but what a huge mistake that is! The last thing you want is some moron writing something that you will be graded on. More often than not, you would have gotten a better grade if you had written “I like poop-sickles” 2,000 times and handed it in, rather than having some psycho write a paper for you.
Also remember that papers can’t be written in your freaky, chopped up English thing you text your friends with. AFAIK, u cnt hnd n a papr ritn n txt. So you will have to learn English and proper grammar.
If you’ve been reading the chapters as you go, tests, quizzes, midterms and finals won’t be too much trouble. If not, expect to do a lot of late night cramming, and then you’ll still do lousy. You’ll flunk out, move back home, and have to live with your whole family abusing you as the “Dropout” for the rest of your life. That alone should be incentive enough to study.
Text books are expensive. And I saw a lot of morons returning brand new textbooks at the end of the year that were still in the shrink-wrap and thinking it was cool. They spent $100 on a book, didn’t read it, and then sold it back to the school for $10. Basically, it was a $90 rental.
Don’t be that guy.
Buy used books whenever you can to save yourself some money. You can still sell it back for the same $10.
Being hip, or cool, or with it, or whatever is very important. Most people will try to seem cool by lying their asses off. How? By making up stories of things they’ll claim to have done, or simply pretending to like things that they really have no idea about.
Since it’s College, many people will try to pass themselves off as being smarter than they are. Don’t be one of them. If someone mentions a musician, or an artist, or a filmmaker that you’ve never heard of, don’t lie and say, “Oh, I love his work.” If you get busted (and sooner or later you will), it will make you look pretty stupid. You’re much better off saying that you’ve never heard of it, write the name down, and then check it out later. See if you do like his work, and if not, tell them why.
I’ve found that half the people who drop names and talk about the essences of artists and what not, actually haven’t any idea what they are talking about. They are usually just repeating what someone else said, and trying to make themselves sound smart. Don’t be like them. Be yourself. If you like something or don’t like something, try to know why, and no one can ever fault you for it. Your opinion is yours and yours alone.
Your student advisor will most likely never, ever remember your name, but he or she will be in charge of setting up your classes, and helping you with an internship, and all sorts of silly things. It’s supposed to be this great help to have someone advise you, but since they are also advising 20 other students, they usually will not remember you. So be sure to go to their office with a list of the classes you want already in hand, because most classes will not let you in without your advisors approval. And get in to see them early before the good classes fill up.
Nothing before 10am. That’s a rule. Unlike High School, College classes run on a schedule that splits them up over the course of the week. So a class will either be a short, 1 hour class held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or a long 1 and a half hour class held Tuesday and Thursday. So, the goal is to get most of your classes on the TT, and very few classes on the MWF. If you do have to have classes on the MWF, be sure they start after 11am, and end before 2. You’ll thank me for that later.
Also, try to keep the gap between classes on the same day to under 1 hour. If you have more than an hour between classes, you’ll be tempted to go back to your room and take a nap, and then you’ll never make it back to class.
You can also take night classes, but you’ll never go to them. Same goes for weekend classes.
One of the nice things about College is that you can take certain classes Pass Fail. That means that you don’t get a grade, you only get told that you pass, or you fail. Sometimes that can help your GPA, and sometimes it can hurt it. You’ll have to figure that out on your own.
Be sure to get stay after class once in a while and talk to the Professor if you can. So long as they know your name, there’s a much better chance of getting a good grade. If they have no idea who you are, then they can only grade you on your grades, and that’s no fun. Of course that only really helps if you have a personality. So if you manage to find a personality, talk to your professors. It can’t hurt.
Electives are classes that are not in your major, but that you can take for fun, to actually learn something (yeah, right!), or to get an easy A. Be sure to pick your electives carefully, some of them may seem easy, but are actually really difficult.
Food is very important. And for the first time in your life, no one is looking over your shoulder to tell you when and what to eat. Which is why there is something called “The Freshman 15”. It may sound like a joke, but almost every freshman gains 15 pounds when they get to College. Deal with it.
Some schools have a Deli or Grocery store on campus that you can use your Meal card in. In case your school does not have a Meal card, you’re kind of screwed. If they do, you can stock up in simple foods so you don’t have to always be going to the Commons to eat.
Generally, Microwave ovens aren’t allowed in the Dorm rooms, because the schools assume you are so stupid that you will somehow find a way to fit your head into the Microwave, close the door, and hit the “Start” button. Since there really are no room searches (in theory), you could have one in the room that was covered with a decorative towel of some sort, and no one would ever know. But you didn’t hear that from me.
You don’t have any. Tough luck. Need money? Get a job!
Sleep is good. You will soon begin to learn a skill that retired people have perfected. It’s called napping. Naps are good. The afternoon nap is one of the greatest pleasures you will ever know. And once you graduate and get a real job, you will never get one again (unless you become a Kindergarten teacher), until you retire.
One thing that will ultimately happen to you is that you will begin to oversleep. No one is there to wake you up; no one will be there to yell at you; no one really cares if you go to class or not. You are free to do what you want. And what you will want is to sleep. Sleepy sleepy. But the more you sleep, the less classes you get to, and the sooner you are kicked out of school and then have to get a real job and wake up early. It sucks, but you have to wake up in the morning.
One thing I do NOT miss about College is the showers. Before heading off to school, buy yourself some cheap flip-flops and wear these to walk to the shower, and IN the shower. NEVER be barefoot anywhere in the Dorm bathroom. Why? Fungus. Everyone I knew in College, who did not wear slippers in the shower, got a nasty fungus. Also remember that there is no lock on the bathroom door, or on the shower curtains. Men are perverts and at some point, some guy will raid the ladies shower. It’s childish, it’s stupid. But I know it will happen, because I did it a few times in my day, and things haven’t changed that much!
You’ll probably have a lot of roommates over the four years you’re away, and finding one that you don’t want to hold down and shave off all their hair is tough. A lot of the time, when you have a problem with an annoying roommate, the real trouble is you.
Basically, you’re going to have someone in your space 24 hours a day. They will use your stuff, get their stuff mixed with your stuff, and complain when you touch their stuff. You’ll love them, you’ll hate them, and you have no choice but to have one. But if they commit suicide, you get a 4.0 GPA for that year. So have them sign a suicide pact on day one, then push them off a cliff.
Being on your own, even on a college campus is dangerous. I tend to think that a college campus is more dangerous than the projects in East New York. There are rapes, assaults, thefts, and everything in between. There are simple, common sense ways to stay safe.
Lock your freaking door!
Lock your freaking window!
Don’t go wandering around campus late at night alone.
Never trust anyone with a penis.
Kick first, ask questions later.
Dorm pranks suck. Especially when they are against you. In my day, we only pranked the most annoying, nerdy, band geek girls, so you are in trouble. Expect to be pranked daily.
One of the most common things that went on in my school was some moron pulling the fire alarm. This would happen almost nightly. Sometimes, more than once per night.
The only good thing about a late night fire alarm is that you get to see who is coming out of whose room.
If you are on the first floor, and have an electric blanket, plug it in and toss it out the window. Now you have someplace warm to hang out while waiting to be let back in. On a cold night, you will have a lot of friends wanting to sit with you.
Some basic rules of parties: Simply, a party is a way of getting a lot of people into a very small place so they can easily and definitively destroy all your stuff. NEVER have a party in your room. There’s no point. You can just as easily coerce people into having the party in their room. Then you can trash all their stuff, and go back to your room and sleep in a nice, puke free bed. You’ll thank me for that bit of advice.
Also, if your school has a “Quiet” Dorm, get in there as soon as possible!! It may seem like that’s where all the nerds want to stay, but there is nothing better in life than going to someone else’s Dorm, trashing it, leaving while the music is blasting and the cops are just showing up, and going back to your nice, quiet Dorm room and sleeping in peace.
Since you are technically at College to learn, try to only be out partying on the main College party nights. And those are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All the other nights you should be in your room studying. Yeah, right.
Since parties are expensive to throw, many party folk will try to find ways to cut corners. One way is to serve the cheapest beer on Earth. There are beers you will drink in College that you will never hear of again, except when someone is discussing the worst things they’ve ever drank in College. Some of the beers you will get to know well may include:
They all suck, but they also cost less per case than most other beers charge for a 6 pack.
Another way to save money at a party is to offer “Punch”. Basically, you’ll see a big garbage can full of a red or blue liquid. What is it? Basically, it’s Grain Alcohol mixed with Kool Aid. Under no circumstances should you EVER drink this crap. Grain Alcohol, when poured into a cars gas tank, will cause the car to start. You don’t want to drink this stuff. Also, anyone can put anything into this mix. Another good indicator of how dangerous this stuff is can be found by checking the party hosts. If the folks throwing the party are drinking beer, then there is something bad in the punch. A basic rule of Dorm parties, if a girl has had 3 glasses of punch, she’s not going home alone. Don’t drink this stuff, EVER.
Never call your Fraternity a Frat, because you would never call your Country a…. well, that’s a joke for another time.
Hazing is still very common, and when you join a Sorority, they will abuse the hell out of you. Once you cross over into the Sorority, you will have friends for life, whether you want them or not. Be sure to choose your Sorority well.
I personally suggest you do join one, because no College experience is complete without it. Just be sure to wait until your sophomore year, and again, choose wisely.
Oddly enough, your four years at College will really not teach you very much. In fact, the day you graduate, you will forget everything you learned. College really isn’t about teaching you book stuff; it’s about teaching you independence and responsibility. This is the most on your own you have ever been so far, and how you handle this new found freedom says a lot about you as a person. Some people excel, and others fall on their faces.
This is the time that you will start to learn who you really are. Up until now, you’ve been more of a product of your family and friends, and less a product of the person you really are inside. Now, cut off from your family and your old friends, and in the midst of a group of people who don’t know who you were before you started at this school, you can finally start being comfortable in your own skin. And once that happens, the “Real” you will finally begin to emerge.
That is truly the main point of College. Not to input all this information into your brain, but to draw out from you what no one else has seen yet. The person you don’t even know you are yet.
If you want the best College experiences, than just be yourself. Some people may not like it, but others will. And it honestly doesn’t matter, because being yourself will make YOU happy, once you learn HOW to be yourself.
One of the hardest things to do is to let go of all the fear that you have learned is associated with being different. But being different is what makes you unique, so let your freak flag fly!
Upon graduation, it will be time to get out into the real world and start “Real Life”. Most likely you will move back home first before getting a job and then later moving out.
One thing you will notice when you get home is that from Freshman Orientation to Graduation day, you are the exact same person you always were, unchanged one bit by your College experience. But that somehow the rest of your family has matured by leaps and bounds while you were gone. It will be a shocking revelation, but you will get used to it.
If done correctly, College will teach you all the important things that you will need to know to get through the rest of your life. Aside from learning how to scrounge for food, tap a keg, and twist a piece of paper tightly around a pile of oregano, you will learn how to take care of yourself, and be responsible for your own destiny. And there is no better lesson that can be learned in life.
Well, this is the most basic list of things to look out for while in College. You are about to embark on an adventure that will cover the best four years of your life. Never again will life be this simple, this fun, or this full of potential.
I envy you; I fear for you, I’ll see you in four years. Don’t bug me until you graduate. And no, you can’t borrow any money.