I’m going to fill you in on a little secret: Mistakes are as inevitable as long lines at the Gelman Library Starbucks.
Fortunately, I’m here to recount my worst mistakes, in hopes that they will not be repeated. While at first you may be embarrassed by your mistakes, their inescapability will grow on you, and one day you may even publish them in a Hatchet column.
I made my first mistake before I even stepped onto campus. The week before I left Southborough, Mass., I decided not to break up with my high school boyfriend. Like so many other young couples, we thought our relationship could survive college. But here’s the thing: before we go to college, we’ve met maybe a fraction of the people that we ever will in our lives. Part of college is simply seeing what else is out there, and it doesn’t help to have someone 1,000 miles away blurring your vision. Breaking up may seem impossible, but to capture all that college throws your way, you’re going to want to be available.
Now that you’re single, it’s time to focus on class. You’ve likely already heard the basic academic advice, like getting the general requirements done early, avoiding 8 a.m. classes and buying your books online. But having the right courses, schedule and books won’t matter if you end up with a dud of a professor.
Don’t get me wrong, the professors at GW are usually amazing, but every once in a while, your brilliant professor has to go across the globe for research, so you get another random professor at the last minute. Enter my freshman year statistics professor, who mumbled inaudibly. Sometimes you’d catch a snip about solar panels or baby diapers – things you believed had nothing to do with statistics – but most of the time you had no idea how to answer any of the questions. Come midterm, everyone in the class had C’s.
At this point, things might seem hopeless. But you should know that it is never too late, and the University does care. My entire class e-mailed the head of the department, and two days later we had a new professor. By December the drawings on the white board were clearer and actually resembled pie charts.
If classes are the main reason you go to college, then drinking and partying are close seconds. I am not about to tell you that drinking and partying are mistakes, but I do want to warn you – drinking Everclear is. Especially when mixed with Hawaiian Punch after eating at Johnny Rockets. Everclear is 95-percent alcohol – in other words, you might as well be drinking rubbing alcohol. Never has one kind of alcohol destroyed so many bathroom appliances and trash cans. Drink anything and everything else – responsibly of course – just not Everclear.
The people who will most appreciate your Everclear boycott are your roommates. However, roommates come with their own set of problems.
With roommates, it’s important to make your case early, whether you are a freshman or an upperclassman. If there is an underlying problem, tell them; it’s your room too. If you don’t reach a compromise, issues escalate. This was the case with my freshman roommate, whom I let walk all over me just to seem nice.
Other than that, college is pretty straightforward – not to mention awesome. The hardest part is getting used to mistakes and accepting that they are going to happen. The saying is that college prepares you for life, but that really means that college is for making mistakes, so that you don’t screw up as badly when it’s over. So go ahead, mess up – just not as much as I did.
Kelsey Rohwer, a junior majoring in journalism, is a Hatchet columnist.
This article appeared in the August 25, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.