This story was published in 2006 for FastWeb, an online education resource and scholarship search engine.
It’s hot. Even though I’m a writer and I believe a good writer should be able to describe anything, there doesn’t seem to be an accurate way to record the feelings of a t-shirt sticking to the small of your back, slimy lines of sweat sliding down your neck, the grit of dirty feet from wearing sandals. It’s just hot — an unexpected July heat in the middle of April.
I’m sweating for other reasons too. I’m waiting to hear from graduate schools! Still. I am still waiting to hear from graduate schools! As a quasi-reasonable pseudo-adult, I’m trying to combat the feelings of bitterness and anxiety that only further elevate my temperature. It isn’t working. My worst fears frolic through my mind like girls around a Maypole. This negative thinking has done two things for me: I’ve become compulsive about straightening doormats, and I’ve started to examine some things that I regret from my college career. Here, for your benefit, is a Top 5 List of Things Never to do in College, some of which I’ve experienced, and some of which I haven’t.
1. NEVER lie to your professors
I consider myself a moral person. An upstanding citizen. A bastion of peace on Earth and good will to men. And I confess – there have been times when a teensy lie could have helped me out of a scrape. Things like saying I lost my homework when I actually hadn’t done it or saying my roommate locked me out of my dorm room so I couldn’t pick up my assignments. Blaming technology is a new favorite fib and the worst part is, it’s plausible. Most professors need a translator to understand anything with a keypad, but don’t be tempted to use this to your advantage. The points you’ll lose for turning in something late or of poor quality don’t compare to getting expelled or failing the class because you panicked and told a whopper.
2. NEVER pull an all-nighter
Never ever. Staying up all night severely affects your immune system, your ability to concentrate, your patience and your sense of perspective. Molehills loom large. You’ve got a coffee IV drip. That kid just sneezed and you are about to Beat. Him. Up. It’s hard to get the prescribed 8 hours a night during college, but procrastinating leads to exhaustion. Coping with life is hard enough without a syncopated heartbeat and bloodshot eyes. Avoid this at all costs.
3. NEVER go against your gut
The first days of classes are great because you don’t have any homework. But don’t waste that time – go to class and thoroughly suss out the professor or TA. If it feels too challenging in the beginning or you don’t get good vibes from the person in charge, bail pronto. There’s too little time in four years for a semester of awful education.
4. NEVER miss a payment on your rent/insurance/credit card
This is one of the hardest rules to follow because the effects of it won’t be felt for years to come. Going crazy with the plastic is so tempting when you’re surrounded by boutiques, bars and eateries. Restrain yourself and be accurate with your deadlines. Whenever I’m about to put off sending in a check, I remind myself to pay soon so it’ll pay off later. (Dorky yet effective.)
5. NEVER take things too lightly or too seriously
Be balanced in your decision making and remember that the rest of your life is stretching out ahead of you. Some things will stay with you and some things will go away. Use your wits to tell you which is which. It’s only college … but college only happens once.