I was recently asked by my old college newspaper to write a column about how seniors should approach the final semester of their utopian college existence. Knowing that I could provide a degree of wisdom possessed only by those who have truly enjoyed a diverse post-collegiate experience, I accepted. Plus, I still get excited about writing an unpaid column for my small college newspaper. Success, clearly, is relative.
Nevertheless, I set out to write the column that the editors wanted: a witty little number, detailing how second semester seniors should spend their remaining time in a drunken crawl, saving every ounce of energy for all the casual sex they’ll be having instead of attending whatever blow-off courses they enrolled in. All of which is, of course, good advice, and as such I dispensed and expounded upon it with much glee:
Procrastination and extensions: Let’s be honest: it’s in the nature of college students to procrastinate. Why should this be any different when it comes to the love life? The scenario’s about the same; just tweaked ever so slightly: your collegiate assignment was to copulate, desecrate and fornicate with every attractive person on your campus. Three and a half years later, all you’ve gotten down on paper is the intro. It’s poorly written, far below what you’re capable of and probably fat. Now you have four months to complete that assignment; I wish you the best of luck. Remember, though: just as how an extension saved your ass countless times in class, a sexual extension can be a godsend (though I doubt god would appreciate his name attached to such a pursuit). Keep in touch with all those missed opportunities. Find out where they live. Visit that city in a nonchalant manner, under the guise of a job interview or drug pick-up. Then, in a reminiscent moment of bliss, burn through all the obscene positions Cosmo has in the July “Cosmo Sutra” or whatever the name is of the nonsense those depressed ladies put together.
Incidentally, don’t be discouraged if you’re in a relationship heading into second semester. No, actually, be discouraged. Somewhere, every male with a girlfriend going into second semester is smacking his head; possibly with a hammer. I know my forehead still aches (just kidding dear, I don’t blame you for ruining my final semester).
Academics: If you’re still scrambling to finish some degrees come second semester, you’re either greatly over- or under- achieving, and thus, nothing that I say here is going to matter. This advice is for the middle ground folks: the one who finished their moderately-difficult social scene or humanities degree during the sophomore year and now have scheduling carte blanche. Should you take blow-off classes? I’m inclined to say no. Face it: you’re going to have to attend once in awhile, so why not choose easy classes that are also interesting. Take that intro astronomy or music theory class. You can still roll truant all you want, but on those occasions that you’re forced into attendance – say, an exam – you’ll at least pick up some interesting tidbit, even if it is just a term in one of your blank multiple-choice questions.
Jobs…are overrated. At least, in some sense. I’ll explain: getting a job for the sake of getting a job is whacksa. You’ll be miserable, you won’t advance your interests at all, and you’ll likely make less money than you could’ve made if you got a bartending gig and kept hunting for your dream job…
…and that’s about where I was when a strange realization hit me: almost nothing has changed since the second semester I was detailing so fondly. Then it all became clear: the difference between the second semester and the real world really doesn’t exist. Everything is simply amplified. You have the same kinds of responsibilities; you just have to be slightly more responsible about them. You spend more money, but you make more money – or you go further into debt. If you were the type that borrowed from your parents in college, you will borrow after college. If you were the self-sufficient type in college, you will borrow after college. Meanwhile, the folks you meet in the bars are hotter and more successful, but you’ll probably go home with ones that are more heinous and depressing than any college fare.
Point is: the real world is only as real as you make it. I’ve managed on my own for six months now – a time frame that far, far exceeds the survival over / under set by oddsmakers in the family – and I’ve got to tell you: it doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything very ‘real.’ But that doesn’t mean I haven’t done some damn cool things. It’s interesting what happens when you don’t approach the real world as some foreboding abyss of responsibility and stifling maturity: you actually enjoy it. Somehow, through a string of projects and jobs that I’ve actually enjoyed, I managed to pay rent and avoid debt. Hell, I even found time to write a pro bono piece for my old stomping ground, State University.
Though, if they wanted to pay me, I wouldn’t complain.