‘Twas the Night Before College

Dedicated to my fellow victims of pre-college jitters.

‘Twas the night before college, when all through my head
My thoughts formed a clutter of worry and dread.
The fears of what lay ahead of me were deep,
Preventing my mind from getting some sleep.

I sprang from my bed in my jittery distress.
“If I don’t sleep right now, I’ll wake up a hot mess.”
But these questions wouldn’t stop agitating my mind,
Bombarding me from the front and from the behind.

Will there be people I meet, who will like me for me?
Or will I have to compete in a social Grand Prix?
I’ll oil my engine and shine up my hood.
Heck, who am I kidding? I’m a loner for good.

Is everything ready, my supplies all set?
Is there anything that I happened to forget?
What if I’m late or I can’t find my class?
And what if I make myself look like an ass?

“Stop being so glum,” I said under my breath,
“You’ll choke in your stress and worry to death.”
So I tried to imagine the best case scenario,
But only succeeded in thoughts “au contrario”:

“You loser! You failure! You stupid, dumb idjit!
You’re foolish! You’re hopeless, you slow-minded nitwit!
Don’t open your mouth for fear you might spread,
Your numbskull ideas and your IQ of bread!”

Well, that didn’t help. Good Lord, was I sweating?
Who knew that college could be so upsetting?
And I’d yet to start. It was still Sunday evening.
I had a few hours left before I’d be leaving.

No sugarplum visions would waltz in my head.
I’d be screaming of nightmares if I ever got to bed.
It was like Christmas eve, except without all the joys.
And without the fresh cookies and waiting for toys.

It was more like death row and I’d committed one crime:
Failed college in a day – a Guinness record of time.
I’d eaten my meal that I’d blandly requested,
A plate full of nerves, which I sourly ingested.

At that moment I looked at the mirror beside me,
And I jolted upright as I saw my own zombie.
My eyes – how they drooped. My dimples – how bleak!
My cheeks were like ashtrays. My nose sprang a leak.

This couldn’t be healthy. I mean, what the heck?
It was like Halloween from my scalp to my neck.
I had class in the morning! I needed some sleep!
I did everything from poetry to counting some sheep.

So I went back to bed and I pulled closed my eyes
And changed up my strategy by thinking of lies
Of good things happening on my first day of classes,
Instead of me drowning in my mind of molasses.

At first, it was tough because of the jitters.
It was worse than Starbuck’s apple pie fritters*.
But after a while, my mind settled down,
And giving a snort, I was knocked outta’ town.

Off to the land of “La La’s” I went,
Where no drop of fun was left unspent.
As soon as I reached my own slice of heaven –
“Holy crap! It’s noon! Class started at eleven!”

* I don’t think Starbuck’s apple pie fritters are bad. I just needed something to rhyme with “jitters,” so don’t sue me.

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Dissecting the Mind of the Frosh

August – it’s the month when you should be aware of Psoriasis, rev your motorcycles, eat paninis, and examine the quality of your drinking water. It’s also back-to-school season, but despite the fact that this blog is college-oriented, I’m not going to be talking about back-to-school savings and advice, yadda, yadda, yadda. Instead, I’m going to be talking about how people like me think. And not just how I think and perceive the world – I’m not that vain – but how my fellow Class of 2015 thinks and perceives the world.

“What the heck are you ranting about?” You may be asking. Let Beloit.edu do the talking:

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

On August 22, 2011, Beloit released their 14th “Mindset List” of the incoming college freshman class. The Class of 2015 mostly consists of people like me born in 1993. The list is a general overview of events, ideas, people, and objects that these freshmen take for granted or will never know or experience first-hand. For example, #15 on the list states “O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.” It is only thanks to Google, Wikipedia, my parents’ dinner table conversations, and pop culture references that I know much of anything about O.J. Simpson and how he would have done it “If [He] Did It.”

According to Ron Nief, one of the creators of the list, the “Mindset List” was a sort of reaction to the suggestion that “students graduating from high school aren’t half as smart as their parents.” Mostly, however, it was a serio-comic warning to educators to adjust their teaching style and references to make education more relatable and understandable to students. In other words: stay up to date. Don’t encourage computer students in your class to back up data using a 1.44 MB floppy disk (whatever that is) instead of a 500 GB portable hard drive. If you want your joke to succeed, don’t punctuate the punchline with “churning butter”; end it with “Poke ‘er Face.”

P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face...

Joke: How do you wake up Lady Gaga?

How accurate is the list? Well, it is a general list and it mostly deals with time. It’s not meant to fit every single member of the incoming first years. The compilers take events and inventions dating before or since 1993 and apply it culturally. Here’s a peek at some of the points on the list:

  • (This begins their list. It’s an unnumbered morbid preface:) Andre the Giant, River Phoenix, Frank Zappa, Arthur Ashe and the Commodore 64 have always been dead. I’m going to be honest. I only know who one of these people are and it’s only because of the movie Princess Bride.
  • As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration. What? Psh, I don’t think they give us enough credit. I mean, it’s not like you’re reading this instead of doing something important or worthwhile, like homework, right?… Right?
  • All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring “I Will Always Love You.” “I Will Always Love You…: A Ballad to Heroine.” ((rimshot))
  • They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”

    You have died of Dysentery

    She looks healthy for having died of dysentery.

  • When they were 3, their parents may have battled other parents in toy stores to buy them a Tickle Me Elmo while they lasted. I have nothing to add.
  • They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe: Michael Who? They’ve definitely got this one wrong. Remember Space Jam and that awful movie with Lil’ Bow Wow where he wanted to be Like Mike? (It had that cute kid with the crazy hair and big glasses from Jerry Maguire.)
  • “Yadda, yadda, yadda” has always come in handy to make long stories short. This one is so lame. I mean, I never use… Oh. Never mind.

Check out the whole Class of 2015 list at the Mindset List website. (When you watch the introductory video, a representative touts the greatness of the list and doesn’t miss the opportunity to sneakily tell how how wonderfully, butt-kickingly awesome Beloit is because of the mind-blowing, life-changing list. Just warning you.)

What do you think of the list? Amusing? Revealing? Sad? Annoying? Is there anything you would add to or change about the list? Tell me about it in the comments.

Gotta’ Take ’em All [Classes, I Choose You!]

Life… is like Pokemon. Let me explain:

I’m walking along this strangely straight and repetitive 16-bit path, when all of a sudden, a large field of strangely square and repetitive 16-bit grass appears. I can’t go around it. Can’t dig under it. Can’t fly over it. So I have to walk through it. It’s annoying as all get out, but Ash Ketchum’s got to do what he’s got to do.

Awesome Pokemon Graphics

Anyone with a decent childhood knows what I'm talking about.

After two seconds of walking through the 16-bit grass…

A wild HISTORY OF ASIAN ART appears! Holy crap on a cracker! I want that!

That Freaky Glitch Pokemon

We all remember this freak

Class, I choose you! Oh wait. I’m out of pokeballs. To the PokeMart!

Yes, life is just like Pokemon. No, let me amend that statement: picking college classes is just like Pokemon.

In my previous post, I talked about my experience concerning college freshman orientation. It was fun and informational and it’s making me freak out with excitement. However, picking classes was painful. You heard me: painful. I know I said in the previous post that it was way easier than I had thought it would be since all the required major courses were already picked out for me. There’s a flip side: flipping through the book, I had a heck of a time trying to figure out what elective classes I wanted to take because literally two dozen courses looked interesting and amazing. Maybe that’s the academic animal *cough*nerd*cough* part of me, the side always thirsting for knowledge and striving to become a learned, respected “Renaissance [Wo]Man.”

When picking classes, you have to ask yourself a few things:

X-men Beast

Academic Beast

1. How many credit hours do I want to load myself with? This question comes with sub-questions: Am I going to be working one or several jobs this term? How many clubs/activities am I going to participate in? How much homework can I handle? If you are going to be working, you don’t want to take 17 credit hours that term (unless you’re a rabid academic beast with superhuman skills that don’t require sleep and fatigue). It’s all right to take a relatively light amount of classes – but do so with caution. Make sure you’re taking enough to stay on track for graduation. Extra time in college means spending extra moolah, something you may or may not be able to afford.

2. Is this a class I want to take? Maybe you don’t have a choice. You have to take the class whether you like it or not. But if you get to choose, try to pick something you’ll enjoy. If you love art, but hate English, why would you willingly choose “Analysis of Anglo-Linguistics” (is “Anglo-Linguistics” a word?) over “Study of Modern Design?” It’s a no-brainer! However, I know it will be next to impossible to create a perfect schedule with all classes you love. If the class sucks… don’t take my advice; I haven’t even started college yet.

3. Then why am I even listening to you? Okay, for one, you’re not listening to me. You’re reading words on a screen. My mouth isn’t moving whatsoever, so it doesn’t require any effort on your ears’ part. Secondly, I like common sense, so I write about common sense. Novel idea, eh? You might think I lose merit for not having even set foot in a college class yet, but I’m just saying what makes sense. Please, I implore you to correct me in the comments. Seriously.

 Now, if you’re done with your sassiness…

4. Ok, ok, fine. Um, how does this all connect to Pokemon again? Oh. I started with a Pokemon comparison, didn’t I? Now, I have to follow through, don’t I? All righty then, here it goes:

Classes are like Pokemon – I want to take them all. There are so many of them that it would take me a long time to actually take all the classes that I want. I mean, I’ve lost track of how many thousand gazillion Pokemon there are now in addition to the original (the best) 150. Do you remember how excited you were/are when you do the “Pokerap”? As a child fan of Pokemon, that was your goal in life: to catch all 150 (plus 1 if you count Mew – or is it Mewtwo?) Pokemon and be “the very best that no one ever was.”

Masterball is awesome

Masterball. Now we're talking.

Your available credit hours are your pack of Pokeballs. In the game (at least in the Red and Blue versions), you can only carry 6 Pokemon with you, stored away in those inhumane, cramped spaces within the Pokeballs (animal abuse is a whole different discussion). In college, you’re only allowed a certain number of classes. You can’t take 10 classes because, well, you’re just human. And you know what? That’s okay. You don’t need all 150+ Pokemon to become a Pokemon master. To become a master, you need to know how to use yourself and your Pokemon to the best of your ability. Likewise, to become a successful college student, you need to know your strengths, weaknesses, and limits and you need to learn how to use all of that to your ultimate advantage.

So even though you want to catch/take ’em all, you can’t. It’s something us academic animals just have to come to terms with. And if you feel small, overwhelmed and defeated, just remember that this:

Splash does nothing

Splash does nothing

Evolves into:

Gyarados Hyper Beam

Effing yeah.

So are you as excited about the variety of college classes? Care to share what you’re taking or what you want to be taking instead? Finally, what other comparisons can you make with Pokemon relating to college? Let me know in the comments. Unleash your inner child.

Freshman Orientation: Stranger in a Strange Land

College is almost here and I have only one question: WHERE THE HECK DID THE SUMMER GO?!

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. I don’t know about you, but I am kind of/sort of/holy-crap-yes excited for the upcoming year, especially after going through the required (pause for effect)…

Freshman Orientation (BUM BUM BAH… That probably sounded more dramatic in my head.)

Freshman Orientation Movie Poster

Not the movie.

Here’s what went down during my orientation session:

1. Got orientated (if that’s not a word, it is now). There were these people called Orientation Leaders or OL’s (very creative) who helped freshman around campus throughout the scheduled orientation day. OL’s gave me a schedule for the day, freebie bag and pen, class registration packets, organizational planner, brochures and lots of other informational papers.

2. Sat through an a hour of welcome speeches. These consisted of people (from the Student Body President to the Vice President of the actual school) making wry (*cough*dry*cough*) jokes, thanking us for picking this college, ensuring us that they’re worth every penny, etc etc. In all actuality, it wasn’t that bad. If anything, it got me more excited for the rest of the day and gave me a bad/good case of Antzin-Pants. The cure for Antzin-Pants? Dr. WebMD doesn’t know.

Antzin-Pants is Real

It's not like I just made it up or something.

3. The cure for Antzin-Pants: doing anything. Like splitting up into groups of around 8 people based on your declared major. So because I am a computer science major, I was with 7 other people who would be part of the college of engineering and computer science. Not surprisingly, I was the only one with XX chromosomes (nerd points. Can I get a ka-ching? No?)

We did the usual “say your name, where you’re from, what’re your interests, and what is your major?” The OL broke down the schedule for us, told us where we’d be going, gave us a small tour of the campus and small talked with us. One if the parents was especially chatty and had a lot of questions. Kudos to the OL for not losing her cool.

4. Then comes the specific informational sessions. We picked two sessions from a a list of about five, where we learned about getting involved, getting a job, making the most of college, having fun while studying, yadda yadda yadda. It was good information. Kind of boring, but good info.

And before we knew it…

5. Lunch time! Being the awkward person that I am, I had a tiny tremor of a panic wave as I got my lunch. How many awkward people do we have out there? Yeah? You too? So do you do this when you’re in a new environment? After getting my lunch, I looked around the dining room a few times and did what the “uncertain of herself” individual does: scan, calculate probability of rejection, avoid the weirdos, pick seat based on arbitrary calculations. Do you do that, too? Yes? Even if you said “no,” high five.

Laughing Laughing Laughing

Not pictured: Me

Well, after all this brain-straining work, I just picked an empty table. Yeah, I’m that un-gutsy. Fortunately, a person came by and sat down and we struck up a pretry decent conversation with only minimal awkward pauses. Then a few other people sat down and it was like fiesta of fellow nerds. No, I’m sorry – of “intellectual badasses.” They were talking about their IB (does not stand for “Intellectual
Badass,” in case you didn’t know. Although the coincidence is fantastic) classes. One said she could only take seven, instead of the eight IB classes that she wanted to take. I’m just nodding and smiling like my introvert self. I have nothing to add because I only took AP classes, not IB. *sigh*

Intellectual Badassery at work.

6. With full belly and sluggish gait, I made my way to the activities fair. There were tons of booths set up with representatives ready to promote their activity or spout off plenty o’ useful info about transportation costs, financial aid, clubs, student government, multicultural services… There are a lot more, but my feeble mind won’t cooperate with me. So I made my way to each, filling out this “Activity Fair Bingo Card” When I was done with that, I got a free eco-friendly T-shirt. Awesome.

7. Hi ho, hi ho, off to advising and registration we go! So I met back up with my group and my OL, who led us to the college of engineering and computer science. We were presented with a slideshow detailing our major and general education requirements and opportunities. This – yet again – pumped me up for the fall term to finally arrive. Computer science isn’t actually the most exciting, captivating subject, unlike the art of underwater basket weaving, but I was on the verge of jumping up out of my seat and doing the Pee Wee Herman “Tequila” dance (Watch ithe video. You know you want to. He’s my idol.)

Pervert's Playhouse

Not really.

We met with our major department’s advisor, figured out what classes we needed to take and then signed up for them. What was really neat and what I hadn’t expected was that the classes we needed to take for a Bachelor’s degree were already laid out for us. All the required classes (with designated empty spaces for electives), were laid out in a four-year grid, so most of the work was done for me! It was a relief because I had thought that I would have to flip through a book, earmark pages, flip some more, hold finger on another page, lose a page… In short, I thought the process was going to be long and hard.

That’s what she said.

That's what she said

Sorry. Couldn't help it.

8. Victory dance. On the inside. I didn’t want to look like a complete idiot in front of my future faculty members and peers. No need to make the first impression of a – well, if I wrote what I was about to write, I’d probably offend people of the, erm, “Rainman” persuasion.

And that was more or less my day of frosh orientation. How do I feel? If I haven’t said it enough, I am ecstatic, thrilled, anxious, and uh, and awakened, aroused, discomposed, frantic, in a tizzy, on fire… I have to stop using Thesaurus.com.

For the first time, I am not stressed or worried – for now. I know once the first day of classes nears, I’ll be a mental and emotional wreck. My sleep patterns will resemble a crack addict’s; my fingers will twitch like a tweaker’s; my moods will rage like a person on PCP…

See, kids, you don’t need drugs to feel like a drug addict.

Preachy moment over.

Have you gone through freshman orientation yet? Was it traumatizing, amazing, boring, explosive, all of the above? Tell me about it in the comments.

Images courtesy of IMDB and FreeDigitalPhotos.net (photostock).