Hello, college students. I was reading over the column I wrote around this time last year, and I apologize to any of you who may have read it (and if you have, and you’re still picking up Submerge on a regular basis, it’s nice to see you again). I didn’t mean to be so grim. I love college. Really. I do. In fact, I love it so much, I just sent the fine people at my student loan consolidator another large chunk of money (for me anyway) to show my appreciation for my eight long years of higher education.
OK, OK. I promise, I’ll stop. Looking back on a time of your life in hindsight gives you perspective, true, but it makes it difficult to remember how you felt when you were actually living through it. When I started college like 50 years ago, I was very excited, and you should be too. It’s a milestone in your life, and hopefully one of many important steps you’ll take toward becoming the person you want to be. See? Positive.
College is fun, also, because you’re meeting new people and stimulating, hopefully, because you’re pursuing subjects that you really want to study. You’re also out from under the suffocating safety of the blanket of your parents’ love—at least some of you are. The rest of you are showing up late to class because your boss kept you late at your shitty part-time day job, traffic on the freeway was a fucking nightmare and then when you finally got to campus, you couldn’t find a goddamn parking spot. You’re one of the many who didn’t go away to school; instead, you live at home, commute to school everyday and college feels more like a snootier extension of high school, with just a lot more reading and writing. Hey, buddy, this one’s for you.
There’s nothing glamorous about commuting to college. I know. I did it for six years. You don’t get to live in the frat or sorority house, you’re not integrated into campus life, you’re not “roughing it” in the dorms, meeting people you’ll always consider as some of the best friends you’ve ever had. They certainly don’t make too many movies about it. Animal House wouldn’t have been nearly as debaucherous if the brothers of Delta Tau Chi had to tiptoe back into their homes at night so that they wouldn’t wake up their mommies.
You’re probably not having that much sex either. Who has the time with all the traveling? Sure, maybe you stuck around to be closer to your girlfriend or boyfriend, but you’re really familiar with that sex by now. Unless you’re cheating (you know who you are, and you should be ashamed of yourselves), you’re not “experimenting” with different partners and “sowing your wild oats.” While you’re reading this, there’s some kid your age in a dorm room having ill-advised intercourse with someone from bio class—maybe even the same someone in bio class you wish you were having ill-advised intercourse with. Life’s a bitch, huh?
But, see, that’s where you’re getting a leg up on those lucky enough to go away to college (you’re also eating and living rent free). You’re learning that getting the things you want in life require a lot of work. Sure, those kids are out of mommy and daddy’s house, but they’re not out of their wallets—and the parents can cut them off for any reason, like bad grades or getting impregnated or impregnating someone from bio class. You’re making your own money. You’re learning how to prioritize, how to multi-task. You’re building the character that will turn you into a headstrong, determined individual. Or, you could turn out like me. Godspeed.