The College Party. An offer you can’t refuse!
I hear a lot from students about what their college plans are. There are usually two explanation styles used to express their view, both of which are honest but of different degrees of enthusiasm.
The first method is the “I’m responsible” explanation. Here, students eloquently puff their educational goals and how they value learning in the nurturing environment of college. In their own best way they explain why college is a great place to expand their mind and build a future for themselves. This is usually done in the presence of parents, teachers, administrators, and potential employers and may include some regurgitated lines from an admissions essay.
The second method is the “College party forever” explanation. This is reserved for friends at graduation parties and Facebook to impress how awesome college life is going to be. This is really where all the excitement and enthusiasm for college is revealed. All the new friends, living away from home, setting your own schedule, being able to skip class, the keggers and no cares in the world are just a perfect college experience from their perspective.
Both explanations are valid and true. Students indeed want both, but when education and partying are juxtaposed, student’s prioritize the party first.
Can you blame a Freshman for being excited? The social scene offered by college is a huge upgrade from high school, and the change happens within the blink of an eye. One month, a seventeen year old is the responsibility of the parents. Then they turn eighteen, graduate high school, and the floodgates of life are lifted gushing opportunities upon the student. After a lifetime of being told what to do and how to think they are suddenly given “freedom”, or at least a version of freedom greater than what they are used to. All it takes to gain entrance into this party is get admitted to college and let the journey take its course. It all sounds great, but what student’s easily forget is that learning can be hard work.
While the positive reasons for attending college are evident through higher average salaries and employment after graduation, the reality is that a large portion of individual students do very little learning at all in college. Reports such as Leisure College USA show that total hours spent on schoolwork and studying are down, and Academically Adrift reports that within “two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”
This is precisely where things go wrong. Students go to college with multiple goals and an undeniable attitude that says “I’m entitled to be here, I earned this, let the good times roll!” They want to have an amazing off-the-wall college experience and come out at the end with a guaranteed job from their degree. But that was the college dream of the past and times have changed. Today, a substantial number of students graduate in debt after a mediocre academic career having not developed any real job skills. They were occupied with wants of right now instead of the needs for the future.
When did all this change, what happened?
Anyone who has watched popular media in the past thirty years can easily tell you what has happened. There has been a struggle for the mind-space of college students.
Bluto and Van Wilder vs “Critical” and “Thinking”
You are about to head off to school. A million things are going through your mind. Worrying about new classes, all the new friends, should you join a frat/sorority, research projects and assignments, dealing with your bill and financial aid; the list goes on and on. It is a lot of stress. So take a deep breath and center yourself because it moves real quick. The best thing to do is get a good start on your first week of college and set yourself up for a successful semester.
1. Start making friends early and often: Orientation Day, move in and first day of class are all great days to meet people. Being in a new environment full of people you never met can be a lot to handle, but stay confident and comfortable and you will have no problem getting along. Be the first person to reach out to others and it will be easy to connect.
2. Sit in the front of class: It is your time and money, so get the most out of your education. Sitting in the front will force you to pay attention and learn more. If you are the kind of student that has a hard time paying attention and sits in the back, it is time to turn a new leaf. College gives you the opportunity to become a better student.
3. Meet the administrators: During the first week, college administrators are super busy. However stopping by the financial aid office, counseling offices and student services can at least let you know who is who. Know where the offices are located and what they can do for you. Introduce yourself and get the email address of counselors that can help you. Chances are you will really need their help at some point during the semester.
4. Take a nice walk around campus: Get the lay of the land and figure out where all the buildings are while getting a bit of exercise all at once. This will give you an opportunity to meet new people along the way. Knowing where all the buildings are will also stop you from being late for class.
5. Get out and go!: Get involved, figure out what clubs and organizations you want to join and get active. First week of school always has some great parties so get out there and enjoy it!