Monday, March 05, 2012

Tips for those starting collage

Congratulations on getting through high school. I know, you may feel like all you did was put up with 12 years of having to show up and be bored. But about 1/3rd of all Americans drop out before they get this far. So you're doing better than you might think.

If you're off to college now there's a few tips you might need.

1) Most four year programs include three semesters of general education requirements. You're told they're necessary to make you a more rounded person. They're really there because your professors find that a ridiculous number of your classmates don't remember their high school classes. They passed the classes, but didn't learn much other than how to spit back data and pass a class.
These classes can be, and often are, used to let you slack off for the first year and a half of college. To give you time to figure out what you want to use your college years for. To change your major a time or two if you like. But if you already know what you want to major in then these general education requirements can be used to make college easier. Start with classes needed for your major and drop in one or two general education classes. This way you have a few easier classes mixed in with the harder classes. I mean, if you take all the general ed classes up front then later semesters are all the harder classes necessary for your major. If you mix them together the general ed classes give you some cushion so you can focus more on the hard classes.

2) A lot of people going off to college have no idea how to do their own laundry. Their parents have always washed their clothes for them. What's to know? Throw the dirty clothes in, add detergent, push the button, try to remember to come back in an hour to move the laundry to the drier. So long as you read the instructions on the detergent bottles guys are likely to be all set. Ladies, your clothes seem to have a self destruct feature. Be sure to read that little white label sewn into the seam and sort your clothes. Guys, should do that, too, but if you don't have a full load of jeans or shirts they're forgiving enough to allow you to mix them together. Once you're dealing with the sort of shirts that deserve a tie you want to get more picky.
Where I've seen most people stumble is with the drier. The drier has something called a lint filter. As bits of fuzz come off your clothes they want to blow out the vent in the side of the building. A filter is there to catch the lint and just let the hot air out. Otherwise the lint builds up in the hose leading outside and becomes a fire hazard. If the lint filter gets filled there's nowhere for the hot, wet air to go. Instead, the clothes stay wet. Find that lint filter and clean it. You may still need to run the drier twice to get your clothes dry, but twice is better than the six times you'll need if you don't clean that filter.

3) Legal or not, you're likely going to want to start drinking and drinking heavily. There's very little I could say to discourage this, so I'm just going to leave you with a warning. Alcohol numbs the brain. Beyond being buzzed, beyond being tipsy, beyond being drunk, there's a point where the alcohol numbs the brain stem to the point where it stops working. Without the brain stem you stop breathing and die. So drink, by all means. But don't be stupid about it.

3.1) Hangovers have two elements that make them miserable. One is dehydration. The other is withdrawal symptoms.
Dehydration can be helped by drinking water with your beers and more the next day.
The withdrawal symptoms are caused because your body got somewhat addicted and wants more. Some will advocate a bit of the hair of the dog that bit you (i.e. drink more alcohol). Another solution is orange juice or some other citrus drink. Some the alcohol has likely gotten into your fatty tissues. Citrus will help flush it back out. It may not get rid of the hangover, but it should take the edge off. Similarly, drinks with orange juice in them will help keep the alcohol out of the fat and in the blood stream prolonging the effect of the alcohol so you don't have to drink as much.

3.2) If you're drinking something other than beer, pay attention to what you're drinking and how it's made. You want to know what the different drinks are and how to make them.
It doesn't matter what field you're studying to work in, there are good times and there are bad. The economy goes up and the economy goes down. Jobs get exported and sometimes imported again. But there's always a demand for alcohol. Often the worse things are the more bartenders are needed. I swear the top two careers in Washington, DC are lawyers and bartenders.
So learn to mix drinks. That way you'll have a second option if you ever get laid off or downsized or rightsized or whatever the CEOs are calling it these days. Among the suit and tie crowd, knowing how to mix drinks from the boss's liquor cabinet may even help convince them to keep you.

4) Get involved with some campus organization. I know, you don't have the time. You have classes and homework and drinking to do. But, honestly, your most useful skills won't be gained in class. Doctors, lawyers, these people need to learn things. Most of the rest of you just need the degrees. Get in with the activities council or student government or Young Whatevers of America or something. The skills you develop with these groups will serve you better than what you learn in class.
I want to put special emphasis on the Student Activities Council or whatever your school calls them. They're the ones that spend entertainment budget on movies, talks, bands, casino nights, and whatnot. I learned some interesting things in classes, by almost all of my marketable skills came from planning and advertising events. And your chances of meeting famous people go way up.
I know, I
I never figured out what the Student Government did other than run campaigns for Student Government.

5) Go to class. Seriously, if you're gonna blow that kind of money on college the least you can do is show up. You'll be amazed at how much of your grade is just showing up. If you're in college they figure it's because you're there to learn something. While there are exceptions, the books are nearly worthless. What you need to learn is said in class. Pay attention and take notes. In many cases you'll never look at your notes, but they help you pay attention and get that stuff stuck in your head. There's less homework, but more of the homework you're given has to be done at home.

6) That big project needs to be started when it's assigned. Sure, you have six weeks. You might only need a week. If so make sure it's the first week and not the last.

7) Get some slippers. Or flip flops. Anything so you don't have to go out in the hall barefoot. First week of class, that carpet looks great, doesn't it? Very soon, and seemingly overnight, it's gonna change color. It's gonna change to something darker and unhealthy looking. Depending on how paranoid you are, you might want to wear those flip flops right into the shower. Look at the other people sharing a floor with you. Would you want your feet touching what their feet have touched?

8) Don't wash anything in the water fountain. There's always gonna be that one asshole who eats Ramen, washes his bowl in the water fountain, and leaves the noodles sitting there. It's disgusting and makes the water fountain pretty much off limits for everyone else. If you do in-dorm cooking use the bathroom sinks to wash the dishes. Oh, believe me, after you try the dining hall food you're gonna want to find other places to eat.

8.1) Keep Tums or some other upset stomach treatment handy. You may need to start thinking of them as after dinner mints.

9) If your roommate dies you won't get an automatic A. That's just a myth.

10) Naps are your friends. Classes don't last all day. You get breaks between classes. If it's not too far, go back to your room and get a nap. You were probably up late last night and classes started earlier than you would have liked. Set your alarm and get a nap.

10.1) Weekends are for catching up on your sleep. If you get out of bed before noon you have failed. Be a sleep camel. Store it up so you have it during the week.

11) Someone is likely going to write on that dry erase board on your door with a magic marker. Write over their marks with a dry erase pen and quickly wipe it off. That should get the magic marker off.

12) While you may not want to pile your classes too close together, you'll want to see about taking lots of Tuesday-Thursday classes or Monday-Wednesday instead of M-W-F. Or take your M-W-F classes in the morning. The less you have to do on Friday the longer your weekend. A heavily loaded Tu-Th schedule can allow you a part time job the rest of the week.

13) If you need to get a job, look at jobs at local hotels. See if you can work the night shift at the check-in counter. If gives you plenty of time to get your reading and other homework done.

Readers, what can you add?

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