Advice for grads

It’s June, and that means graduation for the Class of 2005,
which includes my nephew. This is my advice to Justin and others
who are out of high school and moving on to college.
It’s June, and that means graduation for the Class of 2005, which includes my nephew. This is my advice to Justin and others who are out of high school and moving on to college. I hope that between learning history, the laws of physics and which fraternity invites the best-looking girls to their parties, they can look to my words of wisdom and realize that they only have four more years before they have to go out into the cold, cruel world and get a real job.

• Don’t leave home without duct tape. It repairs everything from torn jeans to toilet seats. You can bind books, keep the batteries in the remote, seal letters to mom begging for money, and re-attach legs to rickety dorm-room chairs. Duct tape is one of the greatest inventions known to man – after indoor plumbing, of course.

• Never wash black concert t-shirts with your tighty-whities. Your underwear will turn gray, and that’s just not attractive when you’re walking down the hallway in the coed dorm from your room to the bathroom. Girls never make passes at boys with gray … well, you know. So always wash your whites separately. If you can’t do that, go to Wal-Mart and purchase 30 6-packs of underwear. That way you can simply wear a new pair every day.

• Always come home for holidays. Your family will be so happy to see you, they will say yes each time you ask for a loan.

• Realize that when your parents give you a loan (see holidays, above), they don’t really expect you to pay it back. But when the government gives you a student loan, they do expect repayment. And they have ways of making you pay them back. Some of them aren’t pleasant and they involve an entity called the IRS. You don’t want to mess with the IRS. Unless you go on to law school.

• Don’t be afraid to get a summer job, even if you spend three months asking, “do you want fries with that?” A summer job proves to your parents that you are learning about life and responsibility, especially if you have spent the previous two semesters satisfying the requirements for your new major, Underwater Basket Weaving.

• Get sleep whenever you can, but don’t sleep in class. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a lecture hall with a hundred other kids and you can sleep with your eyes open and your snoring is silent, college professors can spot you a mile away. That’s why they invented a thing called “academic probation.” Trust me. You don’t want to be on academic probation. There’s no way that you can keep your parents from discovering you’re on it. And that means no more loans during the holidays.

• At midterms, don’t be tempted to chew the three-month old milk in your tiny dorm fridge so you can get sick and be excused from exams.

They have makeup tests just for students who do this. And there are mean professors who sit up nights thinking of extra-hard questions to add to makeup tests just to make life difficult for students who try to get around the system.

• Don’t worry about your major. Let’s be honest here. At the tender age of 18, you must decide the field in which you want to spend the next 40 or so years toiling. Now informally poll the adults you know and figure out how many are actually working in the same field they majored in. Based on that, pick something you will enjoy learning about and, should you be one of the lucky ones who works in their chosen field forever, something you love doing.

• On the other hand, don’t choose a major like Underwater Basket Weaving. Your parents, who give you those precious holiday loans, cannot brag about a child who is majoring in Underwater Basket Weaving. And if they cannot brag, you cannot receive loans. It’s a vicious cycle, and you don’t want to get caught up in it.

• Make friends with everyone. Some of them have picked better majors, and they will be your bosses in the future. And they will remember every single time you didn’t say “hi” or give them your duct tape so they could repair their car and go home for Christmas and get another loan from their parents.

• Enjoy college. It’s the last time you can be a kid. Unless you go to graduate school.

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