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You're Going to College!

A primer on the next four-ish years from someone who has been there.

As many students begin college for the first time this year, I find myself reflecting upon my own college experience and some things I wish I had known when embarking upon my own college journey. Therefore, I have assembled some Dos and Don'ts based on my own experiences into a handy clip 'n' save format below. (Parents ... you're welcome.)

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Do: Stack the beds in your dorm room to create more floor space and make it easier to live in close proximity with another person.

Don't: Push two high-backed desks along the length of the bunk bed, creating a single entry/exit point for the bottom bunk through one small opening at the foot of the bed. Further, do not refer to this as the "passion pit." Especially in front of your mother on parents' weekend.

Do: Take a variety of courses in areas that interest you. Many (all) of these will probably not fall within your major.

Don't: Be lulled into thinking that every college class will be awesome because your first collegiate class is Psych 101 and your professor is a hippie throwback who plays Crosby, Stills and Nash during his multimedia presentation.

Do: Study hard and get good grades. Not because it ultimately matters in life, but because you will have a sense of accomplishment in doing something well. And you might actually learn in the process.

Don't: Vow to never again make the honor roll simply because the last time you did, your middle name "Virginia" was truncated unfortunately to fit within the margins.

Do: Get invited to other people's parties and formal events. This will satisfy your need to reflect on photos of yourself sporting hideous of-the-era dresses and hairstyles 20 years later.

Don't: Join a sorority. Unless you relish the idea of spending more tearful hours than have been expended discussing Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debating the merits of whether khaki or black shorts should be worn with purple rush T-shirts.

Do: Make lots of new friends. Some of these people will be friends for life. And not only because they still have possession of the negatives from your weekend in Amsterdam.

Don't: Make out with lots of new friends. Save that for your 20s — which you will later come to know as your "decade of regret."

Do: Spend a semester abroad. The world is a big, exciting place and you will likely never again have so much freedom and so little responsibility while living in another country.

Don't: Flaunt your provinciality by asking a distinguished British gentleman if he can tell you how to get to the "Totten-HAM subway station" so he can then reply politely, "Well, I can direct you to the Tott-num tube."

Do: Be thankful social media did not exist when you were in college. (Sorry, suckers — you're on your own here.)

Have a great four-ish years and remember: Any bad choices you make now provide excellent fodder for a future humor column.

lisa miller August 29, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Do be kind to your mother when she drops you off on move-in day. Don't look at the tears brimming in her eyes and say "Rip it off like a band aid, mom". Neither of those is funny. MY BABY LEFT ME!!
Kathleen Canedo August 29, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Oh, Lisa -- I'm so sorry. I'm sure he's missing you just as much as you're missing him. (Wow. Almost got through that with a straight face...) And by the way...I cried this morning after dropping my baby off at what-has-been-her-school for the past three years.
WForty August 29, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Don't: Paint an overused stereotype of sorority and fraternity life with a broad brush just because you had (or heard about) a bad experience at a greek organization at your school.
Kim August 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM
To all the parents who are going through the same thing as Lisa: Of course you will miss your child, but enjoy your time with younger children still at home and, if your nest is now empty, use your new free time to reconnect with friends and your spouse! Do some things you haven't been able to do for 18 years - like take a vacation without kids! You've got a lot of living to do!
lisa miller August 29, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I'm fine...I don't need him...all I need is this Thermos.
Kathleen Canedo August 29, 2012 at 03:19 PM
WForty - I'm actually using a specific example of something that happened in MY sorority. Not saying it happened in every one -- but that exact incident happened in mine. (And by the way, the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Tri Sig decided upon khaki. And we had a very successful rush. So who am I to say it was not worth it...?)
Jeannine Miller August 29, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Hey, WForty, in this time of heavy political banter, I say we lighten up when it comes to humor columns.
dilettante07 August 29, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I was going to say the same thing as WForty. My sorority was very clear on which shorts to wear (acid washed denim, obviously), so I'm insulted that you think we're all so fashion stunted. Our debates centered on loftier things like how to write a rush song to the tune of "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast. Ah, the sisterhood.
dilettante07 August 29, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Don't forget the paddle game!
Jen Baggette Cosgrove August 29, 2012 at 06:36 PM
"TottenHAM subway station" is an easy mistake to make. Especially if you think you're in NYC. In your (our defense), we were overserved beer and underserved ketchup.
Eileen Koefoot August 30, 2012 at 11:55 AM
I think if you can sit through the most ridiculous of sorority meetings to make decisions of marginal importance, then you will be MOST ready to become a parent in suburbia. Goodness knows, I have sat through debates where I long to stand up and say, "really?"

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