Beer Cans or Better Grades?

Imagine a hazy, smoke clouded room. Keystone cans littering the floor and a kid passed out with sharpied penises on his face. None of us are strangers to this sort of scene; we’ve either seen it in a movie or witnessed it in real life (apologies to those penis-faced individuals out there). This is what college is advertised to be, especially according to Asher Roth’s declaration of his love for college. Remember? “Man I love college. And I love drinking. And I love women. Man I love college.”

Many freshmen come into college excited for a new start, but are giddily unaware of what the university experience really holds in store for them. So, what is college all about? Most of us work our whole lives to get to this point in our academic career, driving to get an elevated GPA in high school every year and taking every ACT Prep test imaginable. But once you’re finally here you kind of think, “Well, what the hell am I supposed to do now?”

We all know how the first week of class goes: attend every class, gather syllabi, and dutifully write down every homework assignment into your planner (which eventually gets “lost” underneath your bed). Then, slowly, after the rush of a new semester begins to subside you begin hitting the snooze button and taking just “one more shot” at the Buck on a Wednesday night. Many people begin to feel guilty about letting themselves go during the school year, harping on themselves for skipping class and confessing to the priest that the recent Saturday was the last they will ever be fraternizing with Mary Jane. We all need to give ourselves a break and take a piece of the “cool your jets cake” staring you in the face on the counter. College is basically the only time we have to mess up and still receive $200.00 after we pass go.

This is the last time in our lives that we are still given a little leeway when we mess up. We are not really adults, but we also aren’t children and we are supposed to be responsible all at the same time. For most of us we are fortunate enough to still have our parents just within reach if we ever feel like we have done detrimental damage to our pending futures. And others who aren’t so fortunate still get cut a break usually because mostly everyone has been in our situation. We all have just enough money to pay rent and eat ramen for the week because it only costs a quarter.

A lot of students just wish this time away daydreaming about their futures, which hold five-six figure paychecks, green lawns and careers with insurance benefits. Just stop! Mess up, make mistakes, drink a little too much, sleep on floors and skip school once in a while. These are the best years of our lives and what stories will we have to tell our children if we never step outside the boundaries?

Despite everything that your high school teachers and parents tell you as you venture off into the (semi) real world—ignore it. Take that impromptu trip to California, fail a class and hook up an IV drip laced with caffeine to get through a night of cramming before finals.

This is what college is about… as Tom Petty says, “You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due on Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ’til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does…”

 Previously published in The Branding Iron

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