Dear Michigan freshmen,
As you enter college, you will learn some very important life lessons, lessons that will stay with you forever. Or not. Because it’s college, and the most important thing you learn might be that college itself is not very important. I learned more from the time a bat got trapped in our attic than I did from History 161. But you don’t know that yet. As far as you know, your entire life has built up to this moment (which will contribute to that “quarter-life crisis” you’ll be having in seven years, which none of us want to hear about.) For now, you’ve moved into whatever Soviet armament plant of a dorm you’ve been assigned to, met your roommate and probably decided that he/she is either your new best friend or your worst enemy, and gone to at least one party at which someone asked you what you got on your SATs, because it’s Michigan and we are terrible people.
A few pieces of advice:
- If you’re at a party, and you think that maybe drinking 1/3rd of a bottle of Bacardi Gold is a good idea, followed by a trip to Bell’s Pizza and a ride home on the Bursley/Baits bus, STOP IMMEDIATELY.
- You think you know exactly what you want to do with your life. You tell people you’re going into the business school or medical school or law school or wallaby entertainment school. But you are wrong, and that’s fine. But don’t start taking eight economics classes your freshman year so that you can go work for some hedge fund in four years despite your complete inability to do basic arithmetic.
- Never, ever, ever say “I don’t think I can be hung over.” The Alcohol Gods are always watching.
- Don’t take a class in 140 Lorch unless it’s Advanced Napping. It’s like a lecture hall and a tomb all in one.
- Cereal is not dinner. It is delicious, but it is not dinner. You might notice that eating cereal for every meal contributes to your inability to stay awake for longer than two hours.
- Someone will tell you to get on as many email lists as possible so that you can go to mass meetings and join organizations and blah blah blah. Don’t do that, because it will be three years after graduation and you’ll STILL be on these fucking email lists.
- At one time, do things with people you would normally not do things with. I joined a conservative newspaper, which got me a fellowship and two jobs and also a minor anxiety problem. But whatever, jobs brah.
- You’re probably a moron. You’re not as much as a moron as people who go to San Juan Electric Banjo State, but you’re still a moron. You read the Economist and the New York Times and the Weekly Standard? I’m sorry, I was busy not giving a fuck about you reading the Economist and the New York Times and the Weekly Standard. Somehow, college has become where you go and engage in a four-year-long debate with random people for reasons no one can explain. Maybe you’re right about some shit, but probably not. So recognize that you don’t know anything, ask a lot of questions, and then shut up.
- People will move in and out of your life at a rate you won’t expect. Friends you had freshman year might be people you barely recognize at graduation. And that’s fine. You are not constitutionally obligated to be friends with anyone. But don’t be an asshole.
- Your GSIs know some stuff, but they are also people in their mid-twenties, and thus are probably also morons. Respect them, but do not deify them. Or develop really, really weird crushes on them and visit them during their office hours a lot, because they’re probably married or something.
- You’re not busy. You think you’re busy, but you still somehow have time to get drunk on a Tuesday night. Your earliest class is at, what, ten? And you’ve got Michigan Time? Shut the fuck up.
- Because it’s Michigan, you will encounter people who are blindingly wealthy and don’t know it. Or maybe you’re blindingly wealthy. Here’s the deal: if you’re rich, just… be rich. It’s fine. But don’t assume other people come from the same socioeconomic background as you, because that’s how incredibly awkward conversations about money happen, and no one wants that.
- Learn a map of the state of Michigan, so that when someone tells you they’re from Bloomfield Hills and says that that’s a “suburb of Detroit,” you can laugh in their face.
- Everyone you meet has a bias. That’s how people work: we come from places and develop thoughts and feelings based on those places. Your liberal political science professor who rambles on about Occupy and that dude who wears boat shoes and talks about Ron Paul are two sides of the same fucking coin. One’s not dramatically superior to the other, because they’re both irritating.
- At some point, Michigan will feel really fucking huge. Then you’ll see that one kid who always wears shorts and sandals, and you’ll think, “How do I always see that one dude? How many people are on this campus, twelve? Jesus.”
- Go outside sometimes. It can be nice. Unless it’s past November, in which for fuck’s sake, stay indoors so you don’t lose any appendages.
- A hipster is someone who likes something for the purpose of appearing to like it. They don’t actually like Rusko or Grizzly Bear or post-punk noisecore, but they want to seem like the kind of person who would. Don’t do that.
- Care about your grades, but at some point, fail something spectacularly. But never do it again.
- You’ve got four years, but you’ve only really got right now. You could get kicked out, or drop out, or become independently wealthy and decide to move to San Francisco and start a sex club. Whatever. Just do you, and do it now.
Good luck, freshmen. And when walking down the sidewalk, DO NOT WALK FIVE ACROSS.