It’s time for the second and final installment of the “How to <3 College” advice column. I know, the suspense has been building, so let’s just get this done.
5. Class: The biggest adjustment from high school to college is probably the fact that class is basically optional. The first thing you have to do when you start your classes is assess whether or not you actually have to go to each specific class. You pretty much know you don’t have to go if the class is a gen-ed, if the professor teaches from the book and/or if it’s in a large lecture hall with 200 other people. If you do skip, will you be able to get by without reading the chapter? And if not, is skipping really worth forcing yourself through pages and pages of that book you spent $300 on? (Speaking of – text books are usually a huge waste of money). My advice is: if it’s not raining, snowing, or bitterly cold, go to class. I, personally, found it a lot more bearable to sit through class than to read the book, and you will feel better about your life if you actually get up and go do something. Also, if you didn’t drink coffee before, you are going to have to start now. After a couple weeks you will find that a 10 a.m. class is an early-morning class, professors are boring, and you can’t run on 4 hours of sleep and a hangover alone – so get used to drinking coffee.
6. Spring Break: You can’t go off into the real world without at least one spring break under your belt. It will be like a black hole in your time line of life events if you don’t. “So where were you the week of March 10 2015?” “I don’t know, home with my parents, I guess.” LAME. The way to successfully execute spring break is to relocate your college campus to a tropical location. Chances are your spring break will fall on the same week as a handful of other schools’ and you will all end up at the same cheap resort resulting in: college on an island. Spring break is a judgment-free zone. You have a week-pass to do whatever you want and no one will judge you because you’ve been gorging yourself on watered-down rum for 5 straight days, so you are obviously not thinking clearly. You always know who didn’t go on spring break by their lack of tan when you get back to school. It was a very painful time in my life going back to campus after spring break just as sickly-white as I left it (minus a few tanning bed sessions) freshman through junior year. But as I found out senior year, there’s nothing more redeeming than being a bronzed goddess among pasty freshman.
7. Graduation: There is nothing more depressing than the impending doom that is graduation. Second semester senior year is a double-edged sword. The more time passes, the warmer it gets, and the closer you get to the end of the year, the more fun you have – but in the back of your mind you know the dreaded graduation day is closing in on you. By this time in your college career, you’ve gained enough life experience to know it’s never going to get any better, so being forced to leave is your biggest nightmare. Graduation day isn’t actually so bad because it’s kind of exciting and you get to wear a dress, take lots of photos, drink champagne, and get presents and praise. It’s once the ceremony and the family dinner is over that it hits you – the only part of college that isn’t over is the huge debt you’ve accumulated and have no way of paying off because you’re jobless since your unpaid internship gave you a pat on the back and said “good luck” and you blew all your savings on boxed wine and Dubra. The proper way to handle this is to go wild graduation night and party like it’s your last night as a college student – because it is – but know that the good life isn’t really over. Sure, now that you’ve graduated you’re going to have more responsibilities and life won’t be a walk through campus (literally) but as long as you keep in touch with your friends and don’t turn lame, you still have eight years until you turn 30, so life’s not over yet.
8. You won’t “find yourself” in college: Just so you’re prepared for post-graduation limbo, I’ll let you in on a secret – college is not a soul-searching experience. All the hype of going off to college, leaving the nest and growing up has led us to believe that college is the time when we go from stupid teenagers to self-realized adults. False. College is basically just high school’s way more awesome older sibling. You still live off your parents, your “job” is an unpaid internship and, therefore, a joke, all you do is party, you go home 3 months out of the year for summer vacation and you don’t even have to go to class if you don’t feel like it. So basically all the things that make college amazing are also all the things that make college just a four-year pit stop on your way to growing up. Of course, you have to make some life decisions like (hopefully) choosing a career path unless you want to be a super super senior, but mostly you just coast through life. Once you graduate and leave the bubble, that’s when it all comes crashing down on you. Suddenly you feel pressure to be a real person. It was fine to sit around being a waste of life before because you were “in school,” but now when people ask you what you do, you feel kind of stupid saying “I live at home and do nothing.” In a matter of weeks, you’re grown up, you need a job, you can’t wait to move out, and you find yourself questioning every little detail of your life. My advice for dealing with this: You’re going to have to wait on that because I’m still there.