A lot of people go to college for seven years.

Caleb Raubenolt

Doctors do it. Dentists do it. Lawyers do it.

Magazine journalism majors don’t do it. The same can be said for college students pursuing degrees in media arts and animation, graphic design or art education.

It wouldn’t take me more than four years, five years tops, to graduate college.

That’s what I thought back in 2003. The days of my final year at Hillsdale High concluded with our senior farewell assembly where I walked away with four of our class’ superlative awards.

Apparently, a powder blue sheet of paper with the words “Most Artistic” on it didn’t necessarily mean I was bound for instant success beyond Mr. Hohler’s first period art class. An acceptance letter from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh wasn’t worth much in that sense, either.

I switched majors within the first quarter of my college career. At the time, making the switch from animation to graphic design made perfect sense. Not only was the program regarded as having the Art Institute’s lightest course load, all six of my new friends were graphic design majors. What more of a reason did I need to abandon my childhood fantasy of seeing my name in the credits as lead animator for Disney’s next “Lion King”?

In the second-to-last week of that same quarter, I nearly found myself homeless after being removed from the dorms for violating a one-strike-and-you’re-out alcohol-free policy that the Art Institute – and my mom – took very seriously. Luckily, I was permitted to finish out the remaining days of the quarter in my dorm; however, I was banned from returning there for the rest of the school year.

So I moved home, only to finish the rest of my first year of college as a part-time student taking online courses – for an art school – from my grandma’s house. That was my freshman experience.

If you get shot by a rubber bullet at a raging house party, end up vomiting for 12 consecutive hours after eating a contaminated burrito and lose $500 after foolishly betting your roommate that the Flashes will win the Rubber Bowl, only then could you argue how your first year of college was lamer than mine.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right for me to let one year of unfortunate events take the rap for why I’m working for a student newspaper, rather than raking in salary pay at a big-boy job. Believe me, at 24 years old, there’ve been several setbacks I could’ve avoided had I only taken to heart the advice of a super senior when I first entered college.

Maybe then I wouldn’t have made my return to the Art Institute as a sophomore, only to transfer to Ohio State a year later and change my major to art education. I still lived at home.

Maybe then I wouldn’t have met my first serious girlfriend, which led to me transferring here in 2006 because I didn’t want to be apart from her. We broke up a year later.

Maybe then I wouldn’t have changed my major to magazine journalism in Fall 2008 – the fourth time I decided to change my career choice. The only thing I’m sure of is that I’m up to my neck in college loans.

Maybe then I wouldn’t be entering the final chapter of a seven-year adventure, and never have had the great memories I’ve shared with greater friends. I’ve met professors who are just as helpful as they are wise. I fell head over heels for the homecoming queen – five years after graduating high school.

Take it from me, kids: College is an experience of a lifetime. Just don’t spend your lifetime experiencing it.

Contact managing editor Caleb Raubenolt at [email protected].