Giving meaning to recycled advice.
By: Jamie Hudalla | Freelancer
Here I am: a worldly, wisdom-laden senior writing to you so that you can successfully soak up your college experience. If you thought getting through that first sentence was hard, good luck with the next four years. If sarcasm daunts you, good luck with the remainder of this column.
Though I would score low on the sentimental scale, I’ve reflected on the last three years and wondered how they slipped by without my appreciation. I’m going to unpack the things you should pay attention to, so you don’t have to write a column senior year about how you wished you learned them sooner.
If you’re a freshman, prepare to understand one-third of this. If you’re a senior, put on your rose-colored glasses and reminisce with me. If you’re anything in between, you’re metaphorically the middle child and don’t matter.
Here’s my declassified school survival guide:
- Get involved.
Care about the conversations in your community. Have opinions. Create dialogue. It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, what your parents told you, or where you came from – as long as you care. When you’re asked hard questions, think about them instead of ignoring the discomfort they cause. That way, when someone asks you whether a double cheeseburger is one or two burgers, you already have a 10-page argument outlined in MLA format with evidence backing up your points.
- Step outside your comfort zone.
Get uncomfortable. You can’t grow inside a comfort zone. Join an improv group, study abroad on a psychology trip even if you’re a math major, take an urban hip-hop class, try Spanish 202UZ even though you should have tested into 100-level, fly down Seminary Hill on a Dining Center tray, even write for the student newspaper (shameless plug). Just don’t get up on stage at the freshman karaoke bash and dance to Single Ladies.
- Your education is in your own hands.
Sure, you have to take generals and prerequisites, but you control what you take away from class. Fall in love with learning. If you’re here for a four-year degree to get a job, then reconfigure your definition of education. Ask questions. Otherwise you’ll think Lunds and Byerlys is a bank until junior year.
- Get to know your professors.
Some professors could be teaching theology at Harvard or researching neuroscience at John Hopkins University, yet they choose to be here. They have a lot of connections, but more importantly, they’re cooler than you. They like underground experimental alternative bands and speak Elvish. They have offices stocked with volumes of Johnson’s original dictionary, and minds stocked with life advice. Spend time with them.
- Go to bed, freshmen.
Nothing good happens after midnight, but memorable things do. Use the unsavory hours to eat fried pickles at Perkins and watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy in 2.5 lounge and explore the rumored underground tunnels. Stay up late, because senior year you’ll be knocking yourself out with NyQuil by 10:00 p.m.
- Break the rules sometimes.
This is the beginning of innovation. Don’t do it for the shock-factor, but for a good reason. End a list at number six instead of five or 10. Make it sound intentional, rather than revealing you’re only 21 and your reservoir of knowledge dries up after 500 words.
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