Tackling inevitable problems of freshman year

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August 18, 2011

10:27 PM

This year you should plan on screwing up relatively frequently.
That’s not a bad thing, nor is there anything specific about you individually that makes you more prone to screwing up. It’s just the nature of your freshman year, and you should be prepared for it with the knowledge that you will inevitably screw up with alarming frequency and bush-league quality.
However, there are some ways to avoid some of the more catastrophic screw ups. As someone who has screwed up on a monumental level, allow me to walk you through common freshmen errors and how to work through them.
Skipping Class: It’s just too easy. There are often no tangible or immediate ramifications, and it’s basically the perfect crime. Sometimes it’s a good choice to miss class. Missing one basic lecture in order to prepare for a graded exam later in the day is not always a bad call. However, more often than not the choice to miss class stems from less-academic problems, like being too exhausted to walk to Jones from Monroe, the fact that at 8 a.m. the notion of movement is entirely unacceptable, or the classic, “I am so hungover, if I were to step into the sunlight I would literally die.”
Unfortunately, after some arithmetic involving tuition and credit hours, you will come to realize that each class session is actually worth several hundred dollars, and that it’s generally poor form to be that guy in the class. As such, here are some strategies to minimize your number of missed classes:
1. Don’t do the thing that made you miss class. Whether it’s going through Reddit until 4 a.m. or enjoying Thirsty Thursday, try to call it a night before it gets too late. Exert more self-control and discipline. (I do not recommend this strategy. This strategy is, as would be expected, incredibly difficult.)
2. Plan your schedule realistically. I don’t schedule classes before 9 a.m. anymore, and I don’t schedule math courses until 11 at the earliest. I also don’t take any classes on Friday. I bought a coffee pot that starts brewing automatically when I want to wake up. I’ve made my schedule work with my (awful, lazy, degenerate) habits, and you can too. (This strategy is much easier, and generally more effective.)
Roommate Problems: Roommate problems almost always stem from a lack of communication. While there are other factors — Target has tackled these really comprehensively in their recent Back to School commercials, so I’ll take them as written ­­— an absence of communication exacerbates all of the smaller issues that otherwise wouldn’t matter. For instance, sometimes one roommate doesn’t know that he has vile and disgusting hygiene. While this may be a difficult topic to broach, communicating your concerns honestly and verbally can actually do wonders in improving the dynamic of your relationship. By being direct and forward, you can convey the importance of attending to your concerns (vile and disgusting behavior) without being passive aggressive, silent or nagging. To borrow a moral from Behind Closed Doors, communication is key.
Being Really Wasted: You will probably do several dumb things when you are wasted. This is to be expected. As long as you don’t get caught or hospitalized, you did pretty well for yourself. If you’re new to this, here are several tips and tricks for the new drunk on the go:
1. Don’t mess with the locals. The Vegas mantra certainly applies to the City of Williamsburg. Students are tolerated in this town. We have a former student on the city council. As opposed to open antagonism, the city now has merely a grudging distaste for us. This took a lot of work, so please don’t screw it up for us by being the next guy to get tased in front of the Green Leafe. Also, the people who work at Wawa are saints: They sell you caffeine, alcohol and sandwiches, so don’t be awful to them.
2. If you’re drinking, travel in packs, and look out for each other. This minimizes the chance of someone violating tip No.1, makes everyone involved slightly safer, and lowers the risk of someone getting too drunk and, say, urinating on someone else’s Macbook Air.
3. Try to know, or at least ascertain, your limits. Vomiting in the hall is best done discretely, or it will become very expensive. This is where teamwork comes in handy as well. If your friends failed to keep track of what you’ve been putting in your body, they should be the ones to drag you back home. If you thought AlcoholEdu was boring the first time around, it only gets worse the second time.

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