Dear upcoming college freshman,
Congratulations. You did it. You completed four years of high school, scored sufficiently on the SAT and participated in enough extra-ciricular activities that a university saw fit to add you to its roster, provided you take out enough in student loans to remain in debt well into your twilight years. You are on your way.
One of the first things you should learn as a burgeoning adult is to ignore most unsolicited advice. This advice is the exception. Because I'm about to give you a tip that you should stash into your backpack for safe keeping.
One thing you may not know, but will soon discover is this: No one cares a single shred if you go to class. From this day forward, going to school is utterly optional. Remember how you'd get in-school suspension for skipping algebra? Now you are fully off the hook! You have to go to class never.
You are paying for your higher education! You will say this to yourself when you've had one too many Fireballs the night before and your alarm starts buzzing at 7 a.m. (another common college freshman mistake: scheduling classes before noon). You will say, "I am paying for my higher education! I can skip class if I want!" And you will.
If you choose to skip out on a class and instead pull yourself out of a hangover with the other half of the burrito you failed to finish the night before paired with yesterday's coffee, you are well within your right. But know this, budding co-ed: You keep your mouth shut the next time you make it to school.
A couple of decades ago when I entered an institution of higher learning, I signed up for a class on Pop Culture, wherein we dissected the most pedestrian of art forms: slasher films, Journey songs and romance novels. Our syllabus was filled with the most middlebrow art imaginable, and as fun as that sounds, I still wasn't able to drag my ass to class on the day we started The Italian Billionaire's Secretary Mistress.
Cut to Thursday, day two of our look at lusty fiction, and I was rested and ready. I'd missed the introductory discussion to this pink paperback book, but that didn't matter to me. I wanted to make up for lost time, so I picked a spot in the front row. I was present and wanted to be counted. I wanted the professor to know I was ready for an imparting of knowledge on torn bodices.
So, when she asked the class, "Who reads romance novels?," I shot my hand high into the air. I knew this one. Duh.
She pointed at me and I stated as clearly as a bell, "Housewives." I beamed at her and waited for her laugh. My answer was both accurate and humorous.
Except it wasn't. Except that with that single word my professor shot me a look that could melt steel. Behind me ripples of titters erupted. I wanted to disappear into the desk.
Turns out the teacher had spent the entire class before, the one I'd chosen to skip, lecturing the students about how housewives are not the only people who read romance novels. Not only that! But she'd apparently gotten very heated at the very idea of the term "housewives," warning everyone that the word was sexist and dismissive. Except me. Because I wasn't there.
So, let my humiliation be your forewarning: If you skip class, and you will (oh, how you will), show up on time to the following session, ask for notes from a trusted friend and for the love of all that is good and holy, keep your mouth closed. Don't say a damn word.
Best of luck! And may the wind be at your back.
(Photo by Kevin Dooley)