Sunday, August 21, 2005

Surviving College:

11 Survival Tips for Getting through Higher Education

Okay...students are moving into town this weekend. Friday, while escaping campus, I'm pretty sure I ran over about five students. Luckily, given the amount of Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostal, callogen, hair plugs, and silicone in my wheel wells, I think I took out a few parents as well...

In the words of Triumph the Insult Dog, "I kid, I kid!" No incoming freshmen or their parents were actually harmed in the composing of this blog post.

I have a few words of advice for new students. Yeah, I know. It's unsolicited. And I'm also now an old man of 27. But prior to entering my current field, I was a professional student for parts of 8 years in California, Louisiana, and Colorado.

I've spent a few Saturday nights at Isla Vista near UC-Santa Barbara, where at least three genres of porn were invented during various house parties. I've celebrated All Hallow's Eve at the biggest college Halloween party in the nation while at LSU -- six blocks' worth of drunken orgy, complete with crossdressing women disguised as Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.

At the University of Northern Colorado, I ate my fair share of "special" mushroom and onion pizzas, offered to go down of a female police officer while intoxicated, and threw up more good booze than most people ever drink -- if they're smart.

My Cal Poly friends and I even managed to pull off the "Rat Pack 12-Gauge" successfully -- a local tradition where a group of guys decked out like Sinatra and Dean Martin hit up 12 bars in 6 hours, and have one hour to (a) have two shots of Scotch and two beers, (b) get two different girls' phone numbers of two different ethnicities/national origins in each bar, and (c) not get arrested for public intoxication or starting a brawl (I actually found a notebook with my "digits" last night while cleaning - I got the phone numbers of a Pakistani girl, an Israeli, a Palestinian, a French girl, about 5 Chicanas, and the remainder from Pacific Rim or other Central American countries. )

That's a bit of my "student life" vita; the rest is either too embarrassing or too stupid to even post. Now, as a professional, I'm quite content to go to a watering hole and sip down two or three drinks maybe twice a month.


1. Turn the damned collars down.
You look stupid. People who grew up in the Eighties have been trying to block this trend from their minds since 1991. Reagan is dead, kids. And, no, I don't give a shit if Kanye West is doing it, either.

2. Diversify, diversify, diversify!
Following trends is not what going to college should be about. Its about getting damned near educated. If you spend two hours in front of a mirror in the morning trying to look pretty and no time studying, you'll end up flunking out and looking good doing it. Shop at Goodwill. Wear whatcha like. Adopt a cause or three. Get smart, be unique, and then you'll be a trend-setter.

3. Ladies, average guys dig superficial stuff. Good guys love creativity and imagination-- "Tomboys" are so much more sensual than"Barbie Dolls".
When I was a big, bad-ass upperclassman at Poly, I knew a couple of guys who were always dating these "barbie" type girls...young, self-absorbed, and ignorant but always dressed in the latest fashionable college-girl outfits. I even fell for it once or twice myself when I was a broadcaster/student.

Girls like that are only good for one thing, and, no, its not the sex. Superficial women/men tend to be just expensive jewelry. As a guy matures, things like conversation and good companionship become more important. My friend John (not his real name) actually dumped his undergrad sweetheart when he met wonderfully real woman at the Getty Museum in LA. They had a five hour conversation over baseball, Jack London, sculpture, and landscape architecture -- last time I ran into him two, this 26-year old was madly in love with a woman who I've never seen without a Dodgers cap or in anything more designer than Levis. John's a landscape architect; "Sally"'s a carpenter and aspiring artist.

4. Guys, flip-flops and expecting to get laid all the time doth not a good guy make. Never say you love a girl unless you mean it. And don't talk about how damned hot a girl is all the time. "You're like so fucking hot" is nowhere near as important a compliment as "I'm glad I got to meet you. You seem like such a cool person." Keep your dick in your pants long enough to get to know somebody and to respect them as a person.

If you are going to make a pass at someone, please don't be oversexual about it. Flirting is an artform, and requires some level of sophistication. Women tend to quickly figure out that your typical backwards-ballcap-and-flip-flops student usually cannot back up their sexual bravado with performance.

5. Get the Fuck over Yourself. The world's a harsh place, either toughen up or quit wasting our natural resources. Turn off the the whiny emo shit, get some sunlight, and quit shoving a toothbrush down your throat to maintain a Holocaust Survivor figure (and, yup, everyone in your dorm knows about it.) In the real world, nobody wants to hear bad poetry about you getting stood up on Prom Night, or how hard life was on the ol' Cul de Sac. Take out the remainder of your high school angst in a positive manner -- learn to paint, explore your artistic side, write (and submit to journals), take a sculpture class. Human beings have been tormented with various ills since we learned to walk upright. Everybody has complaints about their lives - shut up and do something about it.

6. Ummm...that guy/girl you met at the bar/party who keeps getting text messages while you're making out in the's probably the high school sweetheart or the significant other. Trust me. Those "boyfriend finds out and gets pissed" moments are not fun. Been there too many times.

7. That really cute girl who seems depressed, obsessed with death, and looks a bit like Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands? Yeah...she's probably got a whole shit load of baggage attached. Been there, done that. Actually, its Gucci baggage these types of girls tend to carry around with them. I've been involved with too many of these, as a friend of mine calls them, "suicide chicks." I don't want to sound like I'm calling them bad folks, but the issues involved tend to make people self-destructive or homicidal. Often, they need professional help that you cannot provide and its near impossible for someone to face any serious depression or other mental woe while in a relationship. Be their friend if you want, but never be their lover. It will get ugly.

8. That really cute guy who dresses like a Cure groupie but was secretly a high school jock...he's in his "rebel without a clue" phase. Get back to him by his senior year...if he's not writing bad poetry about his ex and half-suicidal, then he's probably safe to date. Lots of college students experience their first breath of freedom during their first year. No parental control, yet not quite completely free. As that freedom grows, there's this natural urge to rebel -- against something. If that "something" grows into something more internal than a couple of Interpol records and a few tats, then the student has begun the path towards finding their path. If not, if the whole rebellion becomes nothing more than dark window dressing and brooding facial expressions, then the guy still has some growing up to do.

9. Don't be stupid and drink jungle juice or anything from unsealed containers at a party. Especially if you're a female. Nobody wants to see ya get roofied. Always have someone you trust with you at parties, and, I know this probably sucks, but make free booze is not worth the risk of sexual assault. Guys, take heed, too. I've had a least one friend I know of who was slipped GHB by a girl at a party. If he hadn't had good friends watching out form him -- notably the radical Feministas who were our mutual friends -- he would've been a sexual assault statistic. Guys do get sexually assaulted and this is the most common method.

10. Feel free to experiment, but, as with all experiments, make sure that the scientist (you) is still in charge. I know you're probably going to smoke pot. You're going to probably go a little further, maybe drop some acid, experiment with prescription drug/booze combos, try some psychedlic fungi, maybe even taste a little white powder. But know when you're getting out of control. Keep your priorities, always, in perspective. Eyes on the prize, always. And make sure you know - and I mean really KNOW - the ramifications of your choices. You can't circumvent proper drug screenings by employers - Golden Seal doesn't work and use of follicle testing (a fool-proof detection method that cannot be masked) is on the rise.

The asking "are you a Narc?" lithmus test is an urban legend. Every cop knows about 4/20 and even old ladies can pick out a stoner. Meth and heroin use is as stupid as smoking crack. Your friends will narc you out if facing jail time and/or expulsion from school. Smoking pot is as dangerous as smoking tobacco and marijuana loses its medicinal properties when used in relatively large doses. And, odds are, the cops do know who your dealer is and there may be a rather large file with photographs of you sitting in a police file cabinet somewhere if you've ever done a deal in the open.

11. Most Importantly, Don't Be the Brainless Zombies Eveyone Expects You to Be. Fight the Power and Be Yourself. Don't worry about keeping up with the Joneses, your high school buddies, or your college friends. The world's looking for leaders, not followers. If you're at university to party your ass off and aren't willing to work, then go flip some goddamned burgers and save Mom and Dad's money. If you can't work hard AND party hard simultaneously, you're not ready for the university experience. Join the Army, see the world, then come back and give it a shot in a few years. Nobody's ever ready to become an adult -- tough shit. High school's over.

It's time to go hardcore on this Higher Education game.

Much love,
The Zenfo Pro

John Belushi Shouldn't Be A College Role Model