75 Things Every College Student in Greensboro Should Know
If I knew then what I know now’….
Every fall in Greensboro, NC a swarming mass of collegians descend on the city, here to study at the five institutions of higher learning in town ‘— Bennett College, Greensboro College, Guilford College, NC A&T and UNCG, filling classrooms and dorms and cheap apartments and adding mightily to our per annum consumption of beer.
These 35,000 or so young Americans change the demographic of Greensboro by injecting the prevailing mood with youthful angst and optimism, and their presence in town reminds many of us of our own days at university or college.
We asked the extended staff at YES! Weekly to get back in that frame of mind for this week’s cover story, a compilation of advice from graduates of schools both local and distant, intended for freshmen and other new students but also with some sage bits of wisdom for the ones who have been studying here for years.
Some of them are funny. Some of them are painfully truthful. And all of them should make you think.
And that’s probably the best piece of advice we can give to any college student: Think, with a capital ‘T.’ You’re here to learn to use your brain. If you also learn to do an inverted funnel in the process’…, well, that’s the way it goes.
You should’ve listened to your mama: (practical advice)
1. When doing your laundry, separate the whites from the colors. Carefully.
Believe it or not, it is possible to turn your entire wardrobe pink with the inclusion of one brand new pair of red socks in the warm cycle.
2. Try not to get too many parking tickets.
You will indeed accrue many of them during the course of your education, but mind the rules and you’ll keep them to a minimum. Baity says that double parking and switching on the hazards definitely does not work. ‘“You just attract attention to yourself.’”
3. Greensboro is a small town. Remember that.
Do you know who Kevin Bacon is? Doesn’t matter ‘— just remember that everybody knows everybody around here and word gets around fast, especially if you show your ass, literally or figuratively. ‘“I don’t care what Reno says,’” Baity asserts. ‘“This is the biggest little city in the world.’”
4. Sometimes it is who you know.
Meet as many people as you can, from all walks of life and all strata of society (not just your fellow collegians). The groundwork for internships and summer jobs is laid not on campus, but out and about town.
5. Think before you ink.
We know that you’re desperate to declare your individuality and that you’re absolutely dying to get that butterfly (or rose or tribal band or eagle or whatever) tattoo on the small of your back (or perhaps your ‘guns’), but give it a full day of thought before going under the needle (that’s right, they use needles). And you have such nice skin.
6. Find the good bathroom.
In hidden corners and forgotten buildings on every campus in town are clean, quiet bathrooms, largely forgotten by anyone but faculty with gastrointestinal problems and the janitors who clean them. Seek out these secret gardens and take pleasure in their solstice, but for God’s sake keep your mouth shut about it when you find one.
7. Watch your ass.
Even though this is a fairly remote outpost of the cold, cruel world, bad things happen sometimes. Get some pepper spray. Learn some self-defense. Don’t walk around alone at night and keep your eyes open at all times. We’re talking to you, ladies, but victimization happens to guys all the time, too.
8. Be out there.
Go on outings; try a new religious service; make friends with someone you’d have never met if you weren’t here. That’s part of what college is all about.
9. Make like ET and phone home once in a while.
You’ll be surprised at how nice it is to hear from your parents when you don’t have to live with them anymore.
10. Question all authority.
Even the wisdom you see here on these pages.
11. Have a good time, dear.
You’re gonna have such an awesome time. And that’s part of the deal, too.
Hoofin’ it: (transportation)
12. Bikers, get in touch with your routes.
The best way to pedal from Guilford College to downtown is not down Friendly Avenue. Take Spring Garden ‘— you’ll get to pass through the UNCG campus on your way. Maybe see some new co-eds.
13. Freshman, don’t bring a car.
You will meet more people by bumming rides. But have a little class ‘— kick in a few bucks for gas.
14. Don’t drink and drive.
Ever. At all. Get a cab or hike your sorry, drunken ass home on foot.
15. Bulletin boards are the new hitchhiking.
You can probably find someone with a car who lives near your hometown and can give you a lift. See #11 for proper carpool etiquette.
The virtues of vice
16. Fake IDs are illegal.
Seriously. Some kind of document fraud. You should not get one, even if it’s through an entrepreneurial undergrad with better computer equipment than the DMV. But if you must get one, then don’t skimp ‘— make sure it’s a good one.
17. Alcohol is not a long-term investment.
Eight-dollar martinis are not good for the college budget. Know where the cheap spots are. Seven days a week, any given bar is hosting a drink special. Mug nights, shot specials, and 99-cent margaritas are more your speed.
18. You don’t have to drink to have fun.
Don’t laugh. Give your tender young liver a break with a trip to a coffee house, ice cream shop or bowling alley.
19. Don’t start smoking.
You’ve made it this far without smoking ‘— don’t ruin the streak. One poor decision on a college weekend and 20 years later you sound like Harvey Fierstein. Even Clarey says he wishes he had never started smoking, no matter how cool it makes him look.
20. Don’t leave your drink unattended.
People slip things in drinks, and not necessarily the kinds of things you want, either. It happens more than you’d think, to girls and guys.
21. Tip your bartender.
Don’t go crazy, but a dollar every round or two will keep the bartender interested in your business. Liquor drinkers may notice a direct correlation between the size of their tips and the ability of their cocktail to peel paint.
22. Know your limits.
Sure, drinking is fun, but there’s nothing pleasant about getting your stomach pumped or cleaning up puke in your dorm room with a hangover. Also, every year in the United States about 1700 college students die drinking-related deaths. Don’t be that guy. Or girl.
23. Don’t be stupid
Stay away from heroin. Crack too. And any narcotics meant for pets. They are not only taxing on your body, but also your wallet and your fragile young psyche.
Something to chew on:
24. Try the local pie.
We have Domino’s and Papa John’s in every college neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the local product. Expatriates from the Northeast quickly discover New York Pizza on Tate Street for a slice of home.
25. Eat on the clock.
Restaurant and grocery store jobs are prized gigs for college kids, mainly because that’s where the food is. Discounts and free meals abound. And don’t actually eat while you’re on the clock ‘— people get fired for that.
26. You’re gonna get fat.
The Freshman 15 is not a myth; it is a very real phenomenon that, chances are, will prevent you from wearing your booty jeans from high school until you start going to the gym some time in your junior year.
On the cheap:
27. Take advantage of charity.
You’re poor; you’re hungry. You, my friend, are a charity case. St. Mary’s House on Walker Avenue serves up hot meals at least one or two nights a week. Food Not Bombs currently serves on Thursdays, and the church itself provides a meal on Wednesdays. Donations are welcomed by the groups serving, and if you don’t mind sitting next to a homeless man talking to himself, it’s better than McDonald’s.
28. It’s not ‘used’ ‘— it’s vintage’… retro, even.
Recycle wardrobes by buying your clothes at thrift stores. Your parents will hate it.
29. Soak up the free knowledge.
There are lectures every semester on every campus that are free or very cheap. Go. You’ll never have another chance like this again, and you might actually learn something. In the last few years we’ve had visits from speakers as diverse as Cornell West, professor of African-American studies at Princeton, and anal sex guru Tristan Taormino. Odds are you’ll find something that turns you on.
30. Use free Wi-Fi.
Center City Park, in the heart of Downtown, has a free wireless signal. No porn, but it’ll get you out of the house.
31. Stay home once in a while.
Life will go on without you, and it’ll be there when you get back.
Lay of the land
32. Raw info.
Greensboro is a city of about 225,000 and about 35,000 college students. Just over half the population is white, about 37 percent black, and there are growing Hispanic and Asian communities. The city has a nice balance of urban style
and rural feel. The beach is about three hours away. So are the mountains.
Known for its textile industry, Greensboro is reportedly the city to thank for bleached denim. In 1969, Cone Mills introduced ‘“pinto wash denim.’” According to internet lore at least, a rising flood soaked rolls of fabric in Greensboro plants and warehouses. Rather than throw out the material workers ran the fabric through a chemical solution, which left it with a ‘“faded and mottled appearance.’” Where would the ’80s have been without us?
34. It is a city of triumph.
Four noble and heroic young men started a revolution by sitting down. On Feb. 1, 1960, at the Woolworth’s sandwich counter, four A&T students started the wave of sit-ins that spurred the civil rights movement into a new era.
35. It is a city of tragedy.
Although civil rights found a niche here, not everyone was on board. On Nov. 3, 1979, five people were killed during a shootout between a group of communists, a band of neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. The event inspired the first truth and reconciliation commission begun on US soil, a process which we are now undergoing.
36. More History.
The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a pivotal conflict in the American Revolutionary War, was fought right here. And for a short period of time, Greensboro was home to Malcolm X University.
Bennett College is one of two historically black women’s colleges left in the country.
38. The ACC (that’s the Atlantic Coast Conference, for all you neophytes out there).
If you’re new to ACC country, then you won’t believe how big college basketball is here. Couples plan their pregnancies aaround the ACC tournament and March Madness. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, don’t fret: just pick a team and stick with it. Clarey says Wake Forest is the team for the discriminating fan. Overman, a Dookie, disagrees.
39. Green space.
A vast network of greenways and trails networks the city and will eventually be connected into a loop. Maps are available at ci.greensboro.nc.us/leisure/trails/contents/htm.
40. Forgotten heroes.
Greensboro has one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Montagnards, the Vietnamese nationals who fought alongside US troops in the Vietnam War.
41. Original ballers.
Greensboro once hosted a Negro League team, the Goshen Redwings, and another team, the Patriots, in the first half of the century. They played at Cone Park, which is now the Oaks Motel on Summit Avenue.
42. Good friends.
Although this area is part of the Bible belt, Greensboro was a Quaker settlement back in the day. Jewish civic and business leaders also figure prominently in the city’s history.
43. Our place in rock and roll
Emmylou Harrris, Bruce Springsteen and REM all played gigs to small audiences in bars right here in town.
44. And our place in the history of nudity.
Our man Overman claims to have invented streaking on the campus of Western Carolina University in 1974.
Your crazy roommate
45. Best friends.
Your roommate doesn’t necessarily have to be your best friend. If you become best friends after freshman year, get other roomies ‘— sometimes friendships don’t survive in close quarters.
46. Late-night munchies.
Believe it or not, there are places you can call from your dorm room and they’ll bring food, whatever you want, right to your door. It’s an awesome model of supply and demand, dude. Collect menus and keep them in a folder. And don’t forget where you put the folder.
47. Door policy.
When you’re in your room, keep your door wide open ‘— drop-ins are a great part of dorm living. If you step out, even for a minute to use the can, lock it up tight.
48. To that end’…
write your name in indelible marker on everything you own, even your drawers. Take inventory often and keep your eye on your stuff, especially when the most expensive things you own are also the smallest.
What the heart wants
49. The ugly truth.
Boys lie. Girls too.
50. Wrap that rascal
Most colleges give their students free condoms. If you’re sexually active, take advantage of this. The moment will be fleeting, but babies and VD aren’t.
51. The double standard.
Freshwomen get a lot of dates. Freshmen do not. It’s one of the immutable laws of the universe.
52. Be pre-emptive.
Break up with your high school girlfriend or boyfriend before you get to school. Long-distance relationships don’t work. Trust us.
53. Don’t rut where you eat.
Don’t date someone who lives on your hall. It’s kind of like dating your sister or brother.
54. Don’t be a ho.
Remember, Greensboro is a small town and the community of college students is even smaller. If you habitually have late-night three-ways in dorm rooms and the back seats of cars, word will get out.
55. Be a GDI (God Damn Independent).
The colleges in town are not overly Greek and, unlike some schools in the South, you don’t need to join a fraternity or sorority to have a social life. If you want to go Greek, check out all your options before committing.
Your piggy bank
56. Get a helping hand.
There are more ways to pay for college now than there ever were. CFNC.org lists hundreds of scholarships and grants based on all kinds of criteria. Check it out ‘— you may have some money waiting.
57. Get a job.
Nobody expects much from you in the workplace, you’re just a college kid. So punch in, hang out, make friends and get a check for doing it. And you’ll learn the value of work ‘— even if it’s BS work ‘— that will last your whole life.
58. Credit cards are evil.
You will be offered numerous opportunities for credit. Don’t be flattered, and don’t sign up for them. Debt is a serious problem among Americans; it will last longer than the items you buy. Also your parents will be ‘“extremely disappointed in your lack of good judgment,’” a direct quote from Cartwright’s mother.
59. Keep your mouth shut’…
…if you have a credit card tab running behind the bar. The beer bill gets out of hand fast, almost as fast as you discover how many friends you really have.
60. Blood for money.
Bio Life Plasma Services (2101-A Pattterson St.;
336.315.5245) pays for donations, though they won’t say how much over the phone.
61. Slacker tax.
Many schools now implement a ‘slacker tax’ for students who hang around longer than the proscribed four or five years, raising their tuition in increments in relation to their fear of the outside world.
62. He’s not Mr. Roper.
Sometimes landlords take advantage of college students. Know your rights (fairhousinglaw.org). Get references from a prospective landlord before renting and then get the deal in writing. And hold on to your copy.
63. Listen to college radio.
Get the 411 on campus happenings, hear rising local music stars and support your fellow students by listening in on the FM dial. A&T has 90.1, UNCG has 103.1 and Guilford College has 90.9, our favorite.
64. Paris in the springtime?
Tons of majors offer opportunities for studying abroad; make those credit hours apply to more than your GPA. How about a once-in-a-lifetime experience? It beats conjugating verbs in a classroom ‘— Miguel (or Francoise or Hansel) could be teaching you a few adjectives of his own in the Catalina sunset.
65. Go to class.
You’re paying for it ‘— you might want to get your money’s worth. And like Woody Allen says, 90 percent of everything is just showing up. A lot of the info on tests is given out in class. Being there is half the battle ‘— you might not even have to read the textbook if your listening skills are good. Some profs even give attendance grades ‘— that’s how Clarey failed remedial composition. Sneaky bastards.
66. Skip class.
Not to get anyone in serious trouble, but life experiences sometimes outweigh book smarts. A group of friends going up to the mountains for a camping trip? Think of it as flora and fauna field research.
67. Open the canon.
Read all the great books. Get to understand the great ideas. Know the great people throughout history, science and literature. And talk about them in class ‘— Green says that’s a good way to impress women.
68. Lose your ethnocentricity.
Go to a black church or a white country club. Cultivate a taste for sushi. Learn some phrases in Spanish or, better yet, learn to salsa.
69. Become politicized.
Learn the players and then feed the fire in your belly, whether it be for social justice, more tax breaks, foreign policy, student government or whatever. Our nation relies on an educated and active populace to keep the government in line.
70. Finish up.
Unless you have NBA or NFL prospects, get your degree. Semesters off are a slippery slope and the woods are full of people who half-assed it. Plus, when you discover the demands of the job market, you’ll be glad you’ve got that piece of paper.
71. Manage your time.
Pulling all-nighters for term papers will wreak havoc on your social and educational lives. One semester of procrastination is usually enough stress for one person. Get a PDA or a day-planner ‘— and fill it up. It’s a good habit you’ll keep for the rest of your working life.
72. The company you keep.
Find out who the smart people in your classes are and study with them. You’ll get better grades and studying in groups helps you to learn to work as a member of a team.
73. Summertime and the livin’ is easy.
Most professors won’t admit this, but summer classes are easier. And cheaper. A cautionary tale from Cartwright: taking a summer class for a sequence can sometimes leave you ill-prepared for the next one during a ‘real’ semester.
74. Scuba and basket weaving.
Stack your semester with a couple cakewalk classes. Every school has them and your advisor will know which ones they are. An ‘A’ or two will do wonders for your grade point average.
75. Get an internship’…
or two or three or four. Internships may be a bit degrading to someone like yourself who surely knows all there is to know, but they are the fast track to gaining experience in your field and possible gateways to employment after graduation.