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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Incoming Freshman: The Checklist to As and Honors

You are about to embark on an life-altering adventure at Kick-Ass-And-Take-Names State, the number #1 higher education institution for your potential career in Microbiotech-Entrepreneurial Law with minors in Post-modern art and Chinese philosophy. (I am only half-kidding.) You arrive as a hot co-ed or Geek Squad president of your ultra-cool high school with all-state accolades in football, bungee jumping, and Douchocity. To say you need help with college does not calculate in your 2350-having SAT score head.
But you would be wrong!

So, here's a few things to do before you go to I'll-be-making-$100,000-cos-I'm-smart university:
1)  Buy your books early and read 20% of their contents. The first suggestion, you can usually find out what they are via online setups at universities, or via the local bookstore(s). Make sure you get the right edition, right author, right title -- ISBNs usually help here  -- or you better know Kierkegaard inside and out. Go to Alibris, Amazon, or whatever cool outlet actually gets them to you reliably and CHEAP! Second, read! It is important to take the 3 weeks before class to get cracking on the books - skim 4 or 5 chapters and read shit that seems important. Take notes too - that too takes practice.  Try it out - like being a virgin all over again!

Goal: Save possibly $100-200 on your weekend-before-class, book-buying peers, be ahead in class from day one, and actually learn a habit that will carry you well onto Grad School: read up over the summer.

2) House me. If you are well off -- and most of you are not (loans don't count) -- but...if mommy and daddy are, and you have 2 or 3 real friends, who seem capable of responsibility (meaning: they won't flunk out after a year or flake out either), maybe buying a stake in a condo or cheap house can work wonders. Think about it: your buddies pay your parents rent - at a better rate, than a DORM - and that goes into your stay at the university for 4-5 years. Now, it means too flipping the house, 4-5 years down the road. But if the 'rents know finance, and can rely on you (and their assessments of your friends too), it could be a good deal. It also means you have to maintain the place. No 10 keg parties with ganja odoring around like a Pink Floyd pig at their once-wild light show concerts is permitted. (See Left) Sure, party, but be a neighbor too. Mow the lawn. Actually take out your own trash. Vacuum.  Maybe indoor painting or some shit when your not getting high or drunk, like a responsible adult does.

3) Begin to tell the truth. College is about exploring the depths of your passions...bla bla bla. Look, you should like what you are majoring in, but bullshitting your resume (and yourself) around town is not going to work for too long. Oh, and fess up to your past - you were not the darling you thought you were, nor the stud of the high school. Be real -- and learn some humility. The sooner you learn how not to lie to everybody (and yourself), the happier you will be. Girlfriends. Boyfriends. Yep, they count. Might be exes, but 'ems the breaks. Professors: NO excuses! They are not going to buy your lack of completion of assignments because you were really too busying trying to see if you could jam your social calendar in between psychology and calculus assigments.

4) Time Management. You get a schedule of classes, the marching orders for all your days. Problem is, you basically find out you got a lot of weird gaps and little motivation to do a routine outside of it. Break this. Wake up same time 5 out of 7 days - Monday thru Friday. (See, I'm fun!) Set your life around the earliest class, find a routine that involves books, a quiet place, and preferably, a same-sex study buddy that studies. (Or: if you are liberated from the dorm closet, an opposite sex stud bud.)  After you learn how to put this 3-week routine - the time to learn a good habit - you will have learn how to gain time, get shit done, possibly to the improvement of your other activities. (Exercise anyone???)

5) Organizations. Join only stuff you will do. Resume builders are not joining every club or interest you may have. One club only. (At least until junior year.) Greek organizations - oh, that's not giving, that socializing - so unless they are tied to schoolwork, forget them too. (GDI speaking here. But they have a purpose; but not recommended.)

6) Organizing and Budgets. Yep, you are an adult - 18 and Life to Go. Best get a money program to keep track of your finances and put all your life important stuff in the latest wiz-bang technology. Actually, find a way to be both tech-friendly and paper-useful together. That way, things will not end in tragedy when you drop the cell in the toilet, or your laptop is bound for Guadalajara menos tu.

Secondly, you need a way to keep all the important papers and the other junk you will collect (like beer cups for Schooner night) organized. Start early. Make logical files and consolidate mercilessly, both in paper and on your computer. Do you laundry -- unless mom is a crier for dirty underwear -- and donate shit that does not fit, a.k.a. the Freshman 15. Make a pact to not end up on a episode of Hoarders. The earlier you learn habits that stop chaos in your life, the better off you will be - might even be financially better off than mom and dad.

7) Fun is not a beer and boyfriend/girlfriend. Look: having a good relationship is easier once you know what you want. The author here knew not what he wanted until he was 25, 26...and that changed too, funny how that does. So at 18, you are likely as fickle as a reality TV star that is picking through 25 potential mates in the hopes some magical karmic fate strikes while a camera rolls and the money is good. Shit, you can have a few nice times without a SO. And beer: well you'll drink. Hopefully, not to excess (ha ha) but keep in mind that most of the people, like 98%, you hang with in this activity will not be around in any meaningful way after college.

So that's my advice.



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