Welcome to college: Trust nothing, no one

by Chris Lowrance

There’s a tight, gut-wrenching ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach that can only mean one thing. Summer’s done. It’s mid-August. Back-to-school time.

But not for me. My body seems to have missed the memo, but for the first time ever I’m not buying books, dickering over my schedule, or bemoaning how I once again completely forgot about the tax-free weekend. It’s over, I’ve got my BFA, and I’m never setting foot in another classroom until my mid-life crisis drives me to get a master.

So, seeing as this is the first issue of YES! Weekly you incoming college freshman will ever see, I wanted to do two things.

First, apologize in advance.

Second, don the right level of arrogance and condescension necessary to give you “advice.” Because, you know, I did such a great job and all. Here goes.

Do not trust the school. This includes anyone working for the school, representing the school or attending the school. This includes anyone you met at orientation. This includes advisors, administrators and alumni. This includes me. Do not trust us. We will mislead you.

We will lie to you about class requirements. We will tell you to take classes you don’t need and avoid classes you do need. We will use the adjective “strongly recommended,” which means “not mandatory, but we don’t want you knowing that.” We will cause you to graduate late. We will waste your money. Some of us do this because we are malicious, but most of us are just tools or morons.

So, trust me when I say don’t trust me. Trust only yourself. Read and reread the requirements for your degree, double check your schedule, do what you need to do and what you want to do, and ignore the rest.

If you are 18, you are an adult. Even if you weren’t, the school is not your mom. Remember this, because the school is going to tell you otherwise. They will infringe on your rights if you allow them to, so do not. They will claim this is to protect you – it is not. You or your parents are paying the school a lot of money to let you live there, educate you and give you a degree proving you have successfully completed your courses. This is a business transaction, just like buying groceries, and if you don’t expect the bagger at Food Lion to make moral judgements about your life, don’t let the school.

Now that I’ve told you the school is nothing but a business, let me contradict that by adding it’s also your community. Get involved. When you meet an interesting person, talk to them. Join a student organization that cares about something you do. Be open to new ideas and experiences, because they’re about to bombard you harder than a night club in Tel Aviv.

See my inappropriate political joke right there? That’s a new experience for you.

Pay attention to college media, including your student newspaper, literary magazine and radio station. Hold them to a certain level of professionalism and accountability, but keep in mind they’re college students just like you. They probably also have a better idea about college media than you do. If you really don’t like what they’re doing and are still convinced you can do better, join them.

The same does not apply to student government. Give them hell – this is your only chance before they graduate law school, run for public office, win and promptly ruin your life. Of course, you could join student government, and that’s okay too, I guess.

If you must drink before you are 21, don’t get drunk. Never do anything harder than Red Bull outside the company of good, trusted friends.

If you are raped, report it immediately so we can fry the bum on a stick.

Respect other people’s right not to hear you in the next room after 11:00 p.m. Don’t be a jerk.

And never, ever trust the school.

The comment on this column, email Chris Lowrance at