Well, here we are up to our knee socks and hipster moustaches into Connect’s College Student Issue!
I remember college. I had plenty of issues. Longest five years of my life.
My higher education adventure took place at a massive Southwestern state university, famous for its basketball program and astrophysics research. As I am not very tall nor do I enjoy anything smelling of calculus, I had some trouble finding myself amongst my school’s 40,000 students and 300 majors.
My freshman year I switched from Philosophy to Psychology and back again after realizing that some of the lab experiments might involve touching mice.
I spent the next semester on the long green lawn in front of the student union arguing the principles of Kant and Nietzsche with the hackysack–kicking hippies. Fed up with my own pretentious nonsense, I joined a sorority and concentrated on anthropology. Two months later I ditched that for Baudelaire and French literature, skipping my final to follow the Grateful Dead.
From there I dabbled in environmental biology (calculus AND mice), linguistics (I got scared when the Army tried to recruit me) and geology (turns out, rocks make boring lab partners.)
Finally, I discovered a major that accommodated my passing interest in just about everything. The Creative Writing department took me in, patted me on the head and let me write my way into a Bachelors’ degree.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago. Then again, my senior thesis was printed on that stupid perforated dot matrix paper that never tore quite right so it looked like a Ritalin–addled ferret tried to make a nest with it by the time I handed it in. So, yeah, maybe it’s been a minute.
Though I haven’t lived in a dorm or drank anything out of a keg or had any big papers due lately (well, the dorm part applies, anyway), there are some truisms about college life that remain timeless:
Attend class like it’s your job. Just because you’re not going to get detention for skipping your 8am doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences, like missing out on the notes for the midterm or the professor’s kickass story about the time he ate a yak in the Himalayas. It’s hard to learn anything if you don’t actually show up, no matter how good your roommate’s notes are. Even if you just sit there drooling, little wisps of knowledge will enter your brain by osmosis. (I learned that in biology.)
Party like your grandma’s watching. You may have already noticed that Savannah is a drinkin’ town. But not for you. Temperance is your key to academic success as well as staying out of the way of the local po–po, who are just itching to diversify the downtown drunk tank’s population of friendly prostitutes and passed-out tourists with your collegiate ass. Even if you are over 21, spending your evenings over $2 PBRs won’t help your GPA or your liver. On the subject of illegal drugs, no matter what the hackysack hippies tell you, acid does not make you smarter.
Get savvy about your money. Most of us pay for college through a combination of the generosity of our families, interest–bearing student loans, financial aid and tedious part–time jobs, yet it’s still never quite enough to cover it all. You may be tempted to accept an offer from one of those pretty shiny credit cards for academic necessities such as velvet wallpaper for your dorm room or The Collected Works of Charles Bukowski, but don’t do it. Unless you know deep down in your bones that you are responsible enough to pay it off every single month. In which case you should probably be writing a college advice column.
Take care of your body. Your mother isn’t here, so it’s up to you to eat your vegetables and get enough sleep. Sustaining oneself on microwave ramen and bags of jet–puffed marshmallows can lead to a sudden expanse of midsection, so though you may believe you’re allergic to exercise, make an attempt. Savannah State English professor Dr. Chad Faries has issued a challenge to the faculty of all our local universities to pair up with a student and run the Rock N’ Roll Marathon in November (SSU student Jadon Forbes may or may not know that he’ll be chasing Dr. Faries along those 26 miles.) I’m not saying you need to go that far. Just take the stairs and eat an apple once in a while.
You do not need to choose what you’re going to do for the rest of your life this very minute. Pursue what interests you and life will take care of itself. Trust me, most of us are still wondering what we want to be when we grow up. Unless you have been visited by angels telling you that your life’s calling is to cure cancer or knit the world’s largest yarn bomb, your future is a mystery. You’re here to tackle big thoughts and learn new skills and not waste too much time and money. Sure, you’ll eventually have to declare a major in something, but the unfortunate odds are you won’t find a job in that field anyway. Then again, weirder things have happened, such as a finding a newspaper job with health insurance.
Though if I had to do it all over again, I might suck up the calculus and go for the astrophysics degree.