Undergrads: take all that crappy advice and ditch it

Tony Cox

I have to admit that I really didn’t want to do a “senior column.” I’ve been reading them at the end of every semester for four years now, and they invariably follow the same formula: a bunch of lame clich‚s strung together with some overly sentimental thread that the writer tries to pass off as the 550-word guide to success in college life.

So I figured, what better way to end my career as a Stater columnist than by attempting to counter some of the bogus advice you’re sure to receive over the course of your time in college? Of course, there are so many instances that I could never cover them all, but here are some of my favorites:

“You learn the most important things outside of the classroom.” This is totally bogus, and it’s the main reason why higher education is in such a sad state of affairs these days. The purpose of education is to cultivate the soul by studying the wisdom that has been accumulated though the ages in the various disciplines of study. If individual experience is more important than universal truth, then why waste your time and money in college?

“Just have fun; after all, you’re only in college once!” Sure, leave yourself time to have fun. But don’t forget that while you’re down on College Street doing bong hits, some foreign exchange student is busting his ass in the library so he can take your job away from you in a few years. Keep your play proportionate to your work. And yes, you are indeed only in college once, so you only have one chance to establish a solid academic record. Don’t waste it.

“Live for the special moments you’ll never forget.” I don’t even know what this means.

“Meet new people.” Don’t worry about that. You’ll meet plenty of people, and 95 percent of them will be morons. The good ones will find a way through, so don’t waste time trying to figure out who your friends are.

“Try new things.” This is sound advice, but too many people use it as an excuse to be stupid. Hopefully, at this point in your life you know the difference between right and wrong, so don’t take leave of your senses and do something ignorant just for the sake of doing it. Not only will you feel like a jackass, but it might come back to haunt you later, like when your potential first employer does a background check, or when you meet that special someone and he or she wants to know about those skeletons in your closet.

And last, but not least, my favorite: “Have no regrets.” Probably the worst piece of advice you’ll ever hear. Anyone who says they have no regrets is either an idiot or a liar. This is especially true during your college years, when you’ll be faced with more temptation and forced to make more tough decisions than at any other time in your life. If you delude yourself into believing that every call you made was the right one, you’ll never learn from your mistakes and you’ll end up as some washed up 50-year-old who’s stuck in a perpetual college fantasy.

Well, there’s no space for a long, weepy goodbye, so let me just say that it’s been fun. Thanks, Kent State.

Tony Cox is a senior philosophy major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact him at [email protected].