Another Helping of Collegiate Advice


Published: August 28, 2008

It is the best four years of any adolescent’s life. College is all about meeting new people, experiencing different things and getting to eat ice cream for dinner. Leaving home, or at least breaking out of a comfort zone, is an exhilarating adventure. Everything seems new and any incoming freshman has a million questions. Don’t worry, there are plenty of people willing to help freshmen out. Anyone who has experienced college firsthand, or even saw “Animal House,” will be more than willing to share stories and dole out advice. Just remember that this myriad of advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Although listening to an uncle reminisce about one totally rad time in 1989 when his frat buddies streaked through the main quad of his school’s campus may be amusing and disturbing, it may not be relevant to your current situation.

At some point during senior year in high school, it is likely that someone will pass down some version of a freshmen how-to book.  From the sincere “Chicken Soup for the College Soul” to the hysterical “The CollegeHumor’s Guide to College: Selling Your Kidneys for Beer Money, Sleeping With Your Professors, Majoring in Communications and Other Really Good Ideas,” there is quite a range of potential attitudes about entering college. While it is convenient to have the advice and stories of individuals neatly compartmentalized into chapters, is it really possible for those experiences to apply universally?

The weeks leading to the start of college are unbelievably long, yet incredibly short. Nostalgia and anxiety fight to be the strongest emotion. However, the welcome-to-college books don’t necessarily acknowledge that reading about the experiences of others is dramatically different than going through it yourself. Friending future roommates on Facebook does not guarantee that they will be in your wedding party. Obsessively planning all eight academic semesters now does not mean that the classes will be available. That doesn’t mean four perfect scholastic years are impossible, or that there won’t be truly genuine college moments. There will be three a.m. grilled cheese runs, and during midterm week, almost everyone lives in hoodie sweatshirts and looks slightly homeless.

When it comes down to it, take in all of the advice, but filter it. College guides have hundreds of pages of advice, but you won’t build a collegiate life around one particular event or awful roommate, as these books may suggest. Hindsight is biased. Your sister may still be best friends with her first roommate now, but Sis may have once tried to get a room transfer because she couldn’t stand her roomie’s love of country music. The next couple of weeks may be rocky, or they could be amazing. Even if you are not a freshman, each year is completely different and unexpected. The college chapter, as with any part of life, will probably read differently down the road than it felt while you were writing it. Ten years from now, you’ll have fond memories, while the less than perfect moments will have faded away. No matter what, there is always an adventure to be had on a college campus, especially one in the heart of New York City. Make your experience one that you will want to share with some other rising freshman.