Thursday, June 12, 2014

What I Learned in College

I just found a journal entry from March 20, 1996, the day before I finished my last undergraduate class at the University of California, Irvine. I was 22-years-old. I completed my last final on March 21st thinking, "Now what?" I had no clue what I was going to do with my life. (I still don't at 41.) The only plan I had was to go to the student center and buy an alumni sweatshirt, which I did. Then I had a beer and went back to work as a food server with an English degree.


My last final was for a psychology course I was taking just for units. Most of the students in the large lecture hall weren't seniors. As I bubbled in the last bubble on the Scantron, I turned to the girl next to me.

"I'm done," I whispered.
"With the test?" she asked.
"With school," I said.
 Her eyes got really big.

In the journal entry I wrote the night before my last day, I made a random list of things I learned in college. I would argue many of them still hold true for any new college graduate who spent her time getting a Humanities degree. And some of them are just silly. (I was 22, after all.)

In honor of all the new graduates this time of year, here is the list I made in spring of 1996. (I made a couple minor edits.)

1. Professors expect way too much out of me.
2. The food court needs some new menu ideas.
3. I hate any work of literature in which the author's notes of clarification cover more surface area than the actual text.
4. In-class essays are the work of the devil.
5. Philosophy professors are complete flakes.
6. Math blows big chunks.
7. Freud was a freak.
8. Shakespeare should have stuck to comedies and tragedies instead of writing about history (boring!).
9. Almost every nation or race of people has exploited and oppressed another nation or race.
10. Pornography is a boring medium of sexual expression. (I took a porn film class. #desensitized)
11. I will never master the French language. (Not only that, but I barely remember any of it.)
12. E-mail scares professors who hold fast to notions of antiquity.
13. Beer tastes good. It is essential. (I would learn later that I like wine even better!)
14. Marijuana makes you feel like a complete imbecile.
15. Coffee is essential for concentration. (I'm a decaf girl now.)
16. Registering for classes is more fun than actually sitting through them.
17. The UC Regents are out to take every last dime I ever make.
18. Having a school without a football team is hardly a school at all.
19. Never make an appointment at a fertility clinic. (This one refers to the UC fertility clinic scandals, not anything personal.)
20. Biology students study way too much for their own well being.
21. Affirmative action abolition pisses people off to the point of starvation. (Students protested on our campus and didn't eat for days.)
22. Never take a pamphlet from a stranger.
23. Be frightened by any class with the word "criticism" in the title.
24. "Sometimes you've got to say 'what the fuck' and take some chances."
25. There is one student in every class who claims to have as much knowledge about the subject as the professor.
26. Repeating the professor's words verbatim in an essay will guarantee you at least a B+.
27. This world is a fucked up, random place, and there are no final answers.
28. Getting a bachelor's degree prepares you for no real career.
29. Once you are a UC student, every company in the free world is willing to give you credit.
30. Learning about computers beyond word processing can be strategically avoided. (Oh how stupid I was to think this!)
31. Humanities majors make damn fine lovers.
32. Every other graduate from UCI is going to medical school except me.
33. You really can graduate from UCI without setting foot in the science library. Ever.
34. Learning about mental disorders is fun.
35. Lunchtime ASUCI bands suck.
36. You don't get any money for selling back books.
37. College is not a lifelong proposition. (You can sure keep going for a long time if you really want to though! Go to grad school, kids!)

Congrats, graduates! Good luck in the real world. Make your short time on the planet count.

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