The emphasis on going to college and becoming an expert in some field of work has dramatically increased within the past couple of decades and has become a standard pinnacle for teenagers to reach. When my senior year of high school started, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I casually filled out a few applications, not really sure why I wanted to go to college besides the fact that I felt obligated to do so. As the school year progressed and I began spending way too much time with my family to appease my duties as a bird about to leave the nest, my father began whipping out the college stories.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, college stories are typically told by fathers, and are nostalgic accounts of freedom, booze, sex and irresponsibility on the road. Now, not only do these tales provide bonding moments for you and your old man, but they also show you a light at the end of the tunnel. For years you have been subjected to idiotic rules, immature classmates, teachers that could subdue a red bull buzz, and classes that don’t have any correlation with your interests. College becomes a beacon of hope for those wanting to chase their passions, a place to start over fresh.
So here we are: it’s August and your parents have just sobbed over your shoulder and driven off thousands of miles back home. Freshmen year has begun, and within the first week, college is everything you dreamed it would be. Everyone around you is naked, high, reckless, and just as excited as you are to taste sweet freedom. Your classes start first semester and they are all easy prerequisites that you occasionally go to yet have little difficulty passing.
Any weekend you’re not blackout drunk at the club with your pals, you’re crashing a frat party and taking body shots off girls you never had a chance with in high school. You’re dorm is your oasis where you get to play PS3 until 3 a.m. and still have time to get a banana split at the dining hall before bed. For the first time in your life, there is no one to tell you what to do or how to act, and you finally feel like an adult.
Here we are the beginning of sophomore year: you just spent the summer studying abroad in Paris and you’re stoked to go back to school. Your college pals will all be waiting at your new apartment with a beer in hand, and now that your prerequisites are done you can finally jump into your major and see the path to your future unfold. The first month or so, life is still bitchin’. You and your friends throw regular parties at the apartment, you’re going to classes that interest you… and then you check your bank account.
You are running out of money, and because your parents can barely afford to send you to school to begin with, you’re going to have to get a job to pay for rent and the busted car you’ve been driving around. Maybe a few weeks go by and you get lucky with the Chili’s down the street and all of the sudden you’re working 15 hours a week. Initially, you feel even more independent because you have a job and you are taking care of yourself financially for the first time.
As second semester begins, you start to realize you’re still running low on money. None of your family or teachers in high school warned you how difficult it would be affording groceries and weed simultaneously. Since you were able to handle a job and school first semester, you offer to pick up a few more hours at work. Now you’re working twenty hours a week and taking five classes; then you notice something else has changed: you’re classes are becoming intense.
Not only do all of your classes take attendance now, but they also have a shit-ton of every kind of assignment due each week. Your friends ask you to hang out that Friday night and you’re relieved to have some chill time in your hectic schedule, until you realize that with your work hours in the mix, Friday night is the only time you have to write that fifteen page essay you put-off for three weeks. You realize for the first time that if you want to graduate college and pay for yourself to eat two meals a day, you have to substitute fun for responsibility.
After an exhausting day at work and school, where you did meaningless, monotonous work that doesn’t represent who you are or what you want out of life, you come home and your apartment is fucking trashed. Your roommate has left dishes in the sink and beer cans around the living room once again, and you begin to notice a building resentment towards him. While you’re busting your ass trying to make something of yourself, your friend from freshmen year is in some bullshit major like basket weaving and gets to do whatever the fuck he wants.
In fact, you begin to notice something different in all of your college friends. All the people you partied with freshmen year are either so busy they never have time for you, or they’re still the same person and because you’re focusing on your studies you no longer have much in common with them. This is the first time in your life you realize that most people suck.
Finally, second semester is coming to an end. You have exams still, but you’ve saved up a ton of money from working your ass off all year and you can’t wait to blow it with your friends from back home this summer. You start planning the infamous college road trip… but none of your friends are available. They all have paid summer-long internships and wont be home. This is the part where you start to question everything. “Did all of my dad’s crazy stories come from freshmen year alone? Is the best part of my life over already? Why is it that with every lecture I feel more and more like I’m not guaranteed a job in this field like I thought I would be?”
The answer to that is you’re not, and your father just had it better than you. My father, who is now 52, was going to college over thirty years ago. So what’s changed since the 70’s and 80’s? The economy sucks ass, the job market sucks ass, and suddenly everyone and their mom has a college degree. Back in the day it was the lucky few, the go-getters that went to college. In today’s society, if you want to make anything of yourself there’s no option but to have a degree whether you can afford it or not.
When college didn’t cost an arm and a leg, people had time to stay young and get the best out of their college experience. Nowadays, you just don’t have the time or the money. So when junior year rolls around and your old man would’ve been drinking a glass of vodka with his homework, don’t be surprised if you’re up drinking tea. The unfortunate façade of college is covering up the fact that the “college experience” has become just as realistic as being an adult on your own. Pretty soon, you realize that college has just as many idiotic rules, boring teachers, pointless classes and people that suck as high school.
Now don’t get me wrong, college will be the best time of your life, but like I always say: be realistic. And if you still want that crazy 80’s college life, my best advice is to pick a shit major and stay single. The majority of all college functions and activities revolve around meeting people to fuck, so be open to fuck them. If you want to be successful however, be ready to work. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from college it’s that shit stops falling in your lap eventually, so just be prepared to chase after it. Don’t worry, I’m certain that one day we’ll all look back and only remember the vodka.
Keenan | Elite.