Tidbits of advice from a seasoned, post-secondary fuck up.
1. There is great value in taking a year off. Go to Australia, travel around Mexico in a winnebago, wait tables for a year for shit money and even shittier customers – it may help you to appreciate your education more when/if you do decide to go back. Which tends to come in handy right around the time you’re thinking of jumping ship. You change a LOT from when you graduate high school to when you’re into full blown adulthood. You may think that A$AP Rocky is the best thing to happen since the invention of the wheel, but trust me, in 5-7 years that matching A$AP tattoo, isn’t. Take some time if you are unsure, dropping acid and banging terrible people, is your way of finding out who you are! Relish, my child.
2. Don’t take something for the SAKE of taking something. I really wanted to be college educated. Unfortunately, I struggled with finding something that really struck a chord with me. So, I opted for the 2-year diploma, noncommittal, chose something cause it sounded like it would make me the LEAST miserable out of all the options. About 4 months into my first year, I lost all interest. (As with most things) I spent a lot of time at the bar, drunkenly blabbering to my school colleagues that I was a piece of shit and that this was a horrible decision. Chose something like you’d choose a tattoo, keeping the image on your mirror for 6 months and getting it if you still like it after that period. Don’t drink a box of chardon-yay and stumble to that guy that does tattoos out of his basement. Right?
3. If at ALL possible – pay for it yourself. I took out a monster student loan – the size of Greece – on two different occasions, at two different institutions. Having a student loan enabled me to focus entirely on going to class (i.e., not getting a job and perfecting being a piece of human garbage) and having beer money to spend instead of studying for exams. It gave me a really charming sense of self-entitlement. I didn’t force myself to go, and do it well when I did go, cause it wasn’t my money paying for it. And NOW here we are, shit economy, no job in my field and I’m riddled with a student loan that will take me 9 years to pay off at around $300 a month. Much bitter. Such wow.
4. If you choose to go to University – get involved. I know what you’re thinking. Ew! Gross! People! But, often people in large lecture halls are, cold, heartless bitches. Making friends is hard under the best of circumstances, what with your weird personality and your obsessive hand washing disorder. It’s even harder when there are 200 people in one place, all trying to make sure they don’t off themselves under the pressure. Join a club or some shit. Sit at the bar on campus. If you manage to make a friend whom you mutually bonded over Neopets with, amazing. Because going it alone can be rough. Those people will probably be very helpful for you in the end, as they are in the same leaky boat as you. Luckily for me, a few years after my foray into university, I went to college, where it’s the same 20 people in all of your classes. That turned out to be immensely helpful cause I can’t make friends, to save my life.
5. Universities aren’t job factories anymore. You get that right? Don’t go in there thinkin’ your king turd of turd island, and you can fuck around and it doesn’t matter because in the end you’ll get a job. Wrong. Education is a gamble. For example, a liberal arts degree has immense value in critical thinking, writing creatively, reading comprehension and theoretical problem solving (calm down, it’s not a comprehensive list) and a 2-year technical diploma has immense value in working hands on, in the field and writing technically. You get it. It doesn’t matter what you take, it’s still a gamble. When you come out, you’ll still be lacking in some skills. Depending on where you live you might find the chances are better for you in some fields over another, but it’s still not a guarantee. Be smart. But, rest easy in knowing that even if you graduate, and don’t work in your field, your education has worth. You probably know a thing or two, can hold a conversation about something other than what you did on Friday, maybe you can even draft some kind of communication and hopefully aren’t completely dense. Yay you!
6. Develop good note taking habits. God I wish I could underline this one like, 1000 times. Your shitty notes in incomprehensible letters, half symbols, half numbers, half doodles of dongs are a complete waste of your time if you can’t go back and re-read them. Hand cramps from too many nights of master-bating and chronic WoW playing? Get a laptop! You’re already in debt, pony up a few hundred bucks for a P.O.S laptop.
7. Have realistic expectations. Choosing a major is hard, if you can’t figure it out, try general studies for a year. Remember that when you do chose your major, the reality of life is that you need money to survive. Some people don’t need a ton of it, some people need to wipe their asses with $100 bills. Whatever the case, remember that there is a fine balance between following your passion and following the money. If you are committed to a life in the arts – awesome! Be conscious that it can be a hard life, and that a lot of people struggle, but if you’re prepared, chase that golden pony! If you’re there for the money – awesome! However, recognize that there will probably be a few times you seriously question why you ever went into a money making-based program. What’s all that money going to be worth, REALLY, if you’re stuck in a garbage job, with a soul-sucking, condescending boss that’s probably younger than you that insists on wearing a terrible tie everyday? Talk to people who have graduated in your program of interest. That’ll help you to better understand what you are signing up for, and what’s in store.
8. Have fun, for fuck sakes. While it’s good to be realistic, no sense in giving yourself heart disease over a pop quiz. You have an entire life of being over worked and under paid to look forward to. Nows the time to have your big lesbian experience, to beer bong boxed wine and to have a three some with some lovely folks you met at the train station. Don’t forget to experience it all – the window to act like a jackass gets smaller and smaller as your approach your date of graduation. Don’t squander it. You do you gurrrrr.