This week, I’m starting my fifth year of college. Some would say this makes me wise in the ways of university life – a saucy veteran student if you will. Others (my parents) wonder what’s taking so long. Why am I still lingering in the back of classrooms and the front of free hot dog lines in front of the Joe while my hairline fades and I inch closer to the day I’m kicked off my parents’ insurance? Maybe I just like to take my time or maybe I forget to do my homework too many times. Maybe I’m just a natural lingerer.
Whatever the reason for my still being here, I find myself in a position of elderly wisdom. I’ve been around the block. As I dive gracefully and geriatricly into the 17th grade, advanced in age and experience, I feel an obligation to pass on what I have learned during my time at the University of Nevada to the younger students. I feel a bit like Matthew McConaughey a.k.a. Wooderson in Dazed and Confused. I won’t buy you beer, but I occasionally have a dirty ‘stache and can linger with fire and fury the world has never seen.
For those who are starting their first year or even those who embark on one last go round before graduation, I hope I can advise you on ways to make your experience a little better at school and out in our eccentric community. Take a break from your mobile smart phone machines (unless you’re reading this on our user-friendly mobile site nevadasagebrush.com) and your fidget spinners and you might learn something.
A disclaimer from the start: you’ve been to your first few classes already, and – to your surprise, I’m sure – the first thing you did was ice-breakers. If at this point, you decide that college probably isn’t worth the time and money, I respect that decision. However, if you decide to stick it out, I promise the ice-breakers will only happen twice a year, and the 15 weeks of the semester after the initial get-to-know-each-other week will be better. Unfortunately, the ice-breakers don’t go away when you’re a senior, so suck it up. Seven more to go (or more if you happen to be a fellow lingerer).
Getting an education is the reason you’re here. Getting an education doesn’t only mean passing your classes, it means getting smarter. A college degree won’t set you apart anymore because thankfully we live in a country that values accessible and affordable higher education. A lot of people our age are getting the same degrees as we are. However, applying yourself meaningfully will set you apart. Whether you know your major and have a goal after graduation or not, any class can be worth the time and energy you put into it.
Skip the online class discussions if you want because they’re lame, but make the sickest hovercraft in your engineering class, and write English papers that you enjoy. High school might have drilled into you that boring papers get A’s, and usually they do. But nobody likes boring papers! Those websites with every biology quiz question ever asked are pretty convenient, but only seek “outside help” when absolutely necessary. The work will get tedious, especially for math and science majors, but remember why you’re here. Get smarter.
Also, please pay attention in your Core Humanities classes. A single hour class session could change your mind about being a white supremacist.
Most students need to work these days either because they pay their own way through school or need extra money to fund diverse lifestyles. Some want to work just to stay busy. If money is the main motivation for employment jobs in the service industry are ideal. I have long envied my friends with wads of cash from tips filling their pockets and purses. Waiter/waitress and bartending jobs seem to be plentiful in the area. Check Craigslist.
If you want a job for reasons other than money like to avoid your cat or pad your resume, campus jobs are the way to go. They don’t pay much but they’re flexible with your school schedule and there’s a chance you never have to leave the campus area.
When it comes to funding your life outside of school, take advantage of the absurdly affordable city you live in. Housing prices may be going up and snooty restaurants may be taking over Midtown with their $12 grilled cheeses and $6 Miller High Lifes, but Reno is still the cheapest place to live west of the Mississippi. If you possess acceptable legal identification (legitimate or illegitimate), hang out at the casinos. The food is cheap, the beer is cheap and the people watching has no equal.
Classic how-to guides for college freshmen (which this will surely be upon publication) hype up the social aspects of university life. You’ll meet lifelong friends, stories you’ll tell your children, sexual encounters are plentiful and memorable, etc. Some of these things are true for some people while they aren’t for many others. Don’t feel pressured to live up to the hype. Don’t force it. Join clubs that seem interesting, join Greek life if you’re into that and get a job at Bibo if you consider yourself in the upper echelon of high-brow hipsters. Or, do anything else that will make you happy. There’s no right way to be social. In summary, get good grades, enjoy your new freedom, go out if you feel like, eat, check out the Gold Dust West for breakfast, don’t be a Nazi and listen to the new Fleet Foxes album, and all of your wildest college dreams will come true.