100 Things You Need To Know For College
By Steve Hofstetter
These were excerpts from the first year of Observational Humor. A number of them made it in to the first "Student Body Shots."
When you become a junior in high school, you know every question you will be asked for the next ten years. For the first two, you will be asked what college you'll be attending. For the next three, you'll be asked what your major is. The following year, you'll be asked what kind of job you are looking for. And for the remaining four, you'll be asked what college you went to, what you majored in, and what job you have.
Half of prospective students want to go to the first school they visit. Everyone wants to go to the first school they drink at.
The first time you move in to school, your entire family comes with you. They all want to see the room - as if a 10 x 10 square with a bed, desk and closet could look unique. They're a big help unpacking the 20 boxes and duffel bags you brought, but then they stay way too long. All you want to do is meet people in your hall and get something to eat, but your mom has to arrange your pictures perfectly, you brother has to sit on your bed and complain that he wants to go home while not planning on getting up to actually go, and your dad has to tell you exactly which brand of light bulb you'll need to buy, as well as the history of the company that manufactures it. When you move back in sophomore year, you come by yourself, and don't require any help with anything - and it's not because you learned how to pack more effectively or because you know where your dorm is. It's because you remember how annoying it was to move in with your entire family the first time.
The first week of school, your room is very neat, and you have a place for everything. By the end of the semester, you still have a place for everything - the floor.
When a freshman girl hooks up with a much older guy during the first week of school, she tells all her friends that she met a smart, sophisticated, older man. And if he were smart or sophisticated, she wouldn't be that far off.
You know plenty of people who came to school freshman year with a boyfriend or girlfriend from "back home." How many of those couples lasted past Thanksgiving? A few last til January, but that's only for the sake of their "we'll always be together" ad in the high school yearbook.
Some schools have you fill out a detailed questionnaire before they room you. They ask your likes, dislikes, ethnicity, habits, sleeping patterns, and shoe size. Then they enter all the data in a computer, use complicated algorithms to find the closest mathematical matches, and pick your roommate's name out of a hat.
You know what the quickest way to tell someone is a dork in college? If they keep reminding you how cool they were in high school. If all their stories start out "This one time in high school, man it was awesome" that's because nothing has been awesome for them since then. A couple of key signs are a yearbook that's the first thing you see when you walk in the room, a letter jacket on their very first hanger, and the constant desire to get back together with all his high school friends.
Apparently, "Freshman RA" is not short for "Freshman Resident Advisor". It's short for "Freshman Resident Advisor That Spends Two Days Making Cut-Outs With Everyone's Name and Room Number on Them, Only To Watch the Freshmen Rip Them Down the First Week." Thought I'd clear that up.
At the beginning of every year, you swear that you'll keep up with the readings and get all of your assignments done in time. And every year, you do the first one or two assignments and then get lost behind a pile of backlogged work that you swear you'll get to. You want to know why? Because the only difference between this year and last year is you being 12 months closer to drinking legally.
When you move in freshman year, you own two duffel bags of clothes, a back pack, a computer, half a bottle of shampoo, maybe a guitar, a stereo, and some new notebooks. By the time you leave, you also have a small TV, a mini fridge, an illegal halogen lamp, $800 worth of books no one would buy, some CDs you liked for a month two years ago, two dozen pint glasses you stole from the bar, two dozen spoons you stole from the dining hall, a futon, snap together shelves that look like hibachis, three dinner plates that don't match, and hundreds of pictures of you and your friends piss drunk. Just the right stuff to start your new life, huh?
When I got to college, I learned that everyone here speaks differently. We all use words like "sketchy" and "tool" that no one ever uses back home. That's why I don't go home any more. Cause when I do, no one will understand me.
How many of you spent at least one of the first few nights of school with someone you met at an orientation program, sharing your lives until 5:00 AM? And, a semester later, how many of you spoke to that person more than once?
You know what the best part of coming back to school is? Pretending you weren't naive as a freshman. The entire freshman class hasn't learned all the names of any of the buildings, can't distinguish any of the fraternities from each other, and thinks they can get into a bar by swearing that they're 21. But your class was different, right?
Does your campus have computer registration yet? Mine doesn't. We're supposed to register by phone, but only after we use our bare feet to peddle our bronto-mobile over to the rock quarry.
Parents deal with your room one of two ways once you leave for school. Either they've rented it out for storage space by the time you come back for Thanksgiving, or it remains a shrine to you for the next three decades. The first way, you can never go home again. The second way, you don't want to.
The second most important thing you can buy for college is a good set of shower shoes. The most important thing you can buy is an industrial-strength can of disinfectant for the day after you were too drunk to care about shower shoes.
Colleges are very good at distributing floors equally. No matter how many rooms there are and how many people per room, there is exactly one person on every floor who listens to really crappy music way too loud.
Why do people who get rejected from one a cappella group start their own? If you get cut from the basketball team, do you start another?
Some people go to classes strictly because they want to get the most for their money. What is this, a salad bar? Even the classes that have NOTHING to do with their career. I want good grades because I want a good job because I want to have enough money to send my kid to school so they can do the same for theirs. If that means going to class, then so be it. Otherwise, I'm staying home and getting some sleep - I pay to be able to do that too.
There are two types of all male bathrooms. The first type has toilet paper all over the place, water dripping from the side of the sink, and porno magazines strewn all over the floor. The second type has toilet paper all over the place, water dripping from the side of the sink, and a neat little stack of porno magazines in the corner.
People think that something magical will happen at bars. That for some reason, the cute girl that ignores them the whole year will see them at a bar and think they're cool because of it. So everyone spends $70 on a fake ID, and spends ten minutes trying to convince the bouncer that the reason that the ID is crumbling and see-through is cause it's "the old kind." So everyone finally gets into the bar, except that one friend who looks 12 that doesn't need to get in the bar cause he has a girlfriend anyway, and you sit around a table playing quarters.
Even with the sewed on tags, I was never one of those people who knew all the maintenance staff's names. At what point do you say, "I know you're busy cleaning my friend's vomit, but we've never been properly introduced. I'm Steve."
There are three types of people in college. Those who are part of Greek life, those who have friends in Greek life, and those who have a horribly misguided opinion as to what Greek life really is.
Have you ever seen people bragging about how rarely they go to the library?
"I've only been to the library twice this semester."
"Oh yeah? I've only been to the library once since I've been at school."
"Yeah? I don't even know where the library is.
"Oh man, that's awesome."
"I'm not that bright."
"Oh yeah? I'm even dumber."
"Yeah? I'm a complete and utter moron, and am very proud of how limited my intelligence is."
"Oh man, that's awesome."
The second worst thing in the world is to wake up after a long night of drinking and see vomit on your floor. The worst thing is to realize that it's not yours.
You know that day where you finally get to the clothes you try to never wear? You walk to class in jeans with a rip in the left leg and a pizza sauce stain on the right, a paint-covered t-shirt from the community service project you were roped into during freshman year, and socks that are missing the heel and half the toes. And you do your laundry three days later.
Guards at college have three main jobs - one is to sign people in to a dorm and another is to drive people home when they have too much to drink. Apparently, their third job is too watch soap operas on a TV with bad reception. Talking on the phone and ignoring you when you're trying to speak to them isn't in their job description, but most of them are studying to be receptionists at my doctor's office.
No one dates in college. No movies, dinner, comedy clubs, shows, ice skating, nothing. Instead, the guy asks the girl to watch TV in his lounge, so he can show her off to all his friends and maybe hook up with her in his room later. The girl asks the guy to sit in her room while she rearranges her desk and shows him pictures of people from high school that she doesn't even talk to anymore, so she can show him off to her friends, and turn him down when he tries to hook up with her.
God has played a number of cruel jokes in his time. But the cruelest of all is that when females live together, their cycles begin to coincide. So what happens at school? You fill a hallway full of them, and mix in exams, papers, and your standard social pressures. But that's not a recipe for disaster.
Some situations call for being more casual than usual, and IM is definitely one of them. But using abbreviations like "4get" and "UR" is a bit too casual for any situation. Put it this way - if the rest of the world is wearing pants, it's not the best idea to sit around in your boxers.
The problem with the facebook is that one day, it will ruin you. You'll meet a really hot girl in a bar, and you'll swear you remember her from somewhere. You exhaust all your classes, mutual friends, and extra-curriculars, until you finally realize that she's page 23, fourth column down, third picture from the left, whose photo you spent orientation week staring at and showing to all your friends. And how do you start a conversation with that?
Some of my friends put things on their parents' credit card. If I could do that, my parents would have been jailed three times by the end of freshman year.
God bless the teachers who let you keep the midterm. Actually, God bless the teachers who let your friend who already took the class keep the midterm.
When you were younger, you'd go trick or treating for candy, because that's all a kid really wants. In college, all any of us really want is play. So wouldn't it be awesome if we could still go trick or treating? Just like when you were a kid, you'll get a few people who will slam the door on you, and a few who will give you something you don't want, like fruit - or something of no real value, like pennies. But in any given year, if you went through the whole neighborhood and got just one really good candy bar, wasn't it worth it?
Every Halloween party has at least one guest who is too lazy to dress up that will say they are wearing a costume, using the same joke the rest of us used in 8th grade. "What's that? You're going as a stressed out student, and really you're just wearing your every day clothing, as if to say that you're a stressed out student all the time? Oh, how absolutely clever!"
When I was younger, I couldn't afford to buy my own Halloween candy, so freshman year, I bought all the candy I wanted just because I could. If you think a hangover is bad, try waking up the day after you finish a three-pound bag of candy corn.
Do you still remember what you got on your SATs? In high school, everyone knew what they got on all their tests, as well as the mean, median, and standard deviation of the entire grade. Now, you can't even remember what you got on your midterm last week.
When you come back drunk, for god sakes, do not check your e-mail. And if by some chance you do, never hit "reply to all".
College girls tend to go for the Ken doll type - looks nice, has plastic hair, and absolutely nothing on the inside. College guys tend to go for the Pez dispenser type - their bodies are pretty much all the same, and though most would prefer a Princess Leah head over a Miss Piggy, the guy usually only cares about the candy below the neck.
If the kicker is considered the bitch of a pro team, and college teams are below pro teams, and my school's football team is widely known as one of the worst college teams in the country, what does that make our kicker? And what does that make our second string kicker? It'd be like working at a prison. In Siberia. As the janitor. On weekends.
Some football teams have drinking problems, but mine doesn't. My drinking team has a football problem.
I can understand the athletes at schools like Duke and Ohio State thinking they're all that. Hell, half of them get drafted into the pros. But the second saddest thing in the entire world is a D3 football player on a losing team who has a big ego anyway. The saddest thing is the girl that will hook up with him based on it.
I once heard someone ask at what point someone becomes a bouncer. I'm pretty sure its about two weeks after they get cut from the team.
Schools hold Greek organizations to a higher standard than other clubs on campus when it comes to alcohol. If someone gets really sick from alcohol and they're in a fraternity, every one of their brothers gets punished, even if the guy got sick half way across the world. Does this happen in any other campus organization? "A young man was rushed to the hospital after consuming five times the legal limit of alcohol. In response, the University has suspended the charter of his a cappella group, shut down the sixth floor of the freshman dorm, and barred anyone from becoming a bio major again."
A political candidate is like the junk you fill your dorm room with freshman year. Yeah, it makes sense now, but in four years, you're going to look back and wonder why you bought any of it.
The night before Thanksgiving, I went to some local bars with my few friends that were still in the area. So many people had left campus already, I felt like I was in Independence Day, coming each bar for survivors. "I thought they had cleared this area out already, but it's good to find some others. You look a little woozy - we'll get something to take care of that. I know you used to call this place home, but things are different now. We're all rendezvousing in a few hours. Sir, let it go - it's time to move on to the next bar."
Every year, it seems that Thanksgiving gets longer and longer. Freshman year, most people went home Wednesday night. Sophomore year, people didn't want to deal with flying in late and started booking flights for Wednesday morning. Last year, a few of my friends went home the weekend before. If I ever go to grad school, I think I'm going to see the first 47-day weekend in history.
It makes perfect sense that turkey and wine both make you tired. The typical Thanksgiving dinner involves your siblings quizzing you on who you're dating, your mom asking you what your GPA really is, and all your extended family discussing their insurance policies and recent operations. I don't know about you, but the earlier I get to sleep, the happier I am.
Are you one of the poor saps who refuses to invest $3.95 in a laundry basket? Instead, you try to carry two loads of clothes in your arms, drop two shirts and three pairs of boxers on the way to your room, and have to position the stack on one knee and one hand, pressed against the wall, while struggling to open your door with the hand that has to catch all the socks that are now hitting the floor. And you do this every two weeks.
I'm pretty sure at one point or another, every guy has had a girl turn to them and say something like, "I'm really glad that we can be such good friends and talk like this." And no matter how hard we try, she will never say follow that with "but it'd be even better if we could talk like this, AND have sex."
Formals are just insane college parties with people dressed nicer. You still chug beer, you still play drinking games, there's always one couple making out half way through it - but you know what really keeps it classy? Suits.
Some campuses are incorrectly politically correct when it comes to winter holidays. The traditional "Merry Christmas" is now followed by "Happy Hanukkah" and "Happy Kwaanza." But what gets me is when people say "Happy Ramadan." Do they have any idea how solemn Ramadan is? That's like wishing an Organic Chemistry major a Happy Finals Week.
The weirdest climate is the one you create in your dorm when your heater is on too high so you sit by your open window while it's snowing. And instead of finding the middle ground of temperatures, you become the McBLT in those old commercials, with your hot side hot, your cool side cool, and your buns a bit too soggy to be comfortable.
What impresses me most about cold weather is that no matter how bad it gets, some girls will still not wear coats to bars. If guys cared as much about looking good rather than being warm, the wool-hat-with-the-little-beanie-on-top industry would take a serious hit.
Once, I actually completed a paper two days before it was due. Of course, I thought I was handing it in five days late.
What's the point of a midterm in a class where the final is cumulative? That way, you get to study the material all night, and forget all of it the next day - twice!
So there's this holiday where everyone is supposed to get a kiss at midnight - except it happens in the one month of the year that we're living with our parents. Thanks God. That was a good one.
What keeps me from getting too drunk at parties is that I made myself a promise - if I ever hurl in my room, the hallway, or the bathroom, I force myself to clean it up the next day. Actually, I still get just as drunk - but now I have better aim.
Girls - guys will not tell you if they like your haircut. Half the time they try, turns out that you just combed it differently, and the guy looks insensitive for suggesting it was cut when it wasn't. Guys - girls do not care about how well you did in that intramural basketball game. So what if you scored 20 points, you were playing against the women's chess team. Get over yourself, and compliment her haircut.
Some RAs are awesome. Others make door decorations with your name written on the silhouette of a farm animal.
All my teachers say stuff like "you need to know this so you can impress people at cocktail parties." Maybe there should be one core class called "boring crap you need to know for cocktail parties." Two weeks of music theory, a month of art history, one class on bio, one on anthropology, and one on how to shop and trade stocks online. The final should be discussing wines and laughing pretentiously. If I'm ever at a party where I'm asked to know math, physics, or explain the concept of a macro policy model, I'm leaving.
Someone once asked me why I get sick so often. I downed my shot, pushed my beer to the side, finished my pizza, and told him I had no idea.
Campus security guards aren't such a protecting force. They don't have guns, they don't have billy clubs, and they're not even allowed to arrest you. But nothing deters a crime like a guy in a funny hat saying, "hey, quit it."
Why are some girls still surprised when guys approach them at bars? It's a bar. That's what guys do at bars. If you don't want to talk to anyone, stay in your room and instant message your friends about how skeezy guys tried to talk to you at the bar last night.
Are you in a class with that one really unique guy who tries to find all the vintage clothes he can because it makes him stand out from the rest of the crowd? I'm in a class with 38 of them.
When you're in college, you learn to eat on $10 a week, and it's not because you're paying $30,000 a year. It's because you're paying $8 a pitcher.
Do you have a friend who looks for Greek letters in movies, just so he can try to identify the fraternity? This is the same guy who calls 867-5309 and gets pissed when Jenny doesn't answer.
When you leave a party at 5:00 AM, no matter how important that call to your girlfriend seems at the time, just let it go. She'll still be there tomorrow. Well, only if you don't call her now.
Want a fun experiment? Walk into a room full of college girls and play 80s music - especially Madonna, Guns 'N' Roses, or Bon Jovi - and they will all instinctively jump up and down for a few seconds, then sing into their hand like it's a microphone while they lean about 30 degrees toward each other in a circle.
I had a class once where this one girl got calls on her cell phone almost every day. I'm not sure which was harder to believe - that she was so dumb that she never once thought to shut her phone off, or that she could carry on a conversation well enough to make someone want to call her between the hours of 2:40 and 3:55 every Tuesday and Thursday.
The only kind of money college students do ever have are $20 bills. Since ATMs only give out $20s, you end up going to dinner with five people and no one has change. One guy ends up covering it, and everyone says they'll pay him back as soon as they get change. Which never happens.
I think people declare majors just so they'll have something to talk about in bars.
Ever been to health services on campus? You notice they think that the same thing causes every illness? "What's that? You have a fever, the sniffles, and you say you have a craving for chicken soup? Have you been having sex?"
Valentine's Day at school is weird. All the couples make out in the middle of campus, all the single girls write poetry about how bad Valentine's Day is, and all the single guys try to get the single girls drunk so they'll stop writing poetry and hook up with them.
Valentine's Day in college is a little easier than it was in high school. No one wants to be alone, and everyone has alcohol.
Midterms make hookups really easy, because the only two things open after midnight on weekdays are bars and campus libraries. All you have to do is decide whether you want someone to forget you the next day because they were too drunk or too because they were too stressed, and you'll know where to go.
The great thing about college travel is that it prepares you for anything beyond college. As long as it isn't a car filled with six guys, a dozen McDonalds wrappers, and five empty cases of Natty Ice, who cares if the airline is out of peanuts?
A security guard yelled at me because I was blocking the pathway between the staircase and the elevator. Because so many people take stairs to get to the elevator.
I really don't mind splurging every once in a while. By the time I graduate, I'll owe $50,000 in loans. What's $8 for a pitcher?
You know that one room in every dorm that is kept locked at all times? It's full of half pairs of socks, collected from your laundry by the desk attendant while you aren't looking. Eventually, enough students come through a dorm that pairs begin to form, and are sold on the street for at a 50% markup. How do you think he affords that stereo he's always listening to?
I'd love to see honest college personal ads. "19-year-old sophomore seeks same for Saturday-night hookups and Sunday morning breakfast. Enjoys Cliffs Notes, Dave Matthews band, and long walks to the bar. Social smoker a must."
I'm amazed at the stupidity of college administration when it comes to alcohol. At a university-sponsored party, you need two IDs to drink, but they don't necessarily have to have the same name or face on them.
21 is such an arbitrary age to be allowed to drink. Especially when you consider that you can be tried as an adult much earlier. Though that law probably cuts down on the "your honor, I was, like, totally smashed" defense.
No matter what bar you go to on your 21st birthday, you will not be carded. Unless you forget your ID. Then you'll be carded everywhere you go. Twice.
Why do bums ask college students for money? Are these people really your target audience? "Excuse me, I know that you are wearing the same socks for eight days in a row to avoid the increasing cost of laundry, never have a steady girlfriend because picking up a girl at a bar and going back to your room is cheaper than a movie, and rely on your parents for a ride home after finals cause the train costs too much, but can you spare a dollar?" Do they realize that most of us shelve books for ten hours a week just so our $30,000 education costs $29,000? Look buddy, unless you have a swipe machine that takes dining dollars, I can't help you.
In any group of friends, there's always the phrase guy. The one guy who says all these cool phrases that everyone copies for a semester, until he says a new cool phrase that they can copy. In a big group of friends, there are two or three of these guys. In a fraternity, they're called "the executive board."
Ever have your roommate's parents tell you way too much? You're taking a message from their mom and she's like "tell him that his grandmother came out of the operation fine, the divorce papers finally went through, and that the doctor says it's not leprosy--but the herpes tests haven't come back yet." Thanks. I can sleep much easier now.
Guys have a complex system of dibs. If a girl is your first dibs, (girlfriend, big crush, etc) then none of your boys can touch her. If she's your second dibs, then it'd be nice for your boys to lay off, but it's acceptable if they don't. Beyond that, it's anyone's ballgame. Girls have a simpler system - backstabbing each other and then telling everyone that the guy is a prick for hooking up with both of you.
If you think about it, schools set RAs up for failure. An RA is supposed to keep the floor substance free AND give thoughtful guidance at the same time. "I'm three weeks late for my period and I really need some advice. I know - I'll go talk to the chick who spilled out my beer and turned me in for smoking pot. I feel like she really understands me."
Some girl I met at a bar told me that she wanted my friend, and I wasn't supposed to tell him. Yeah right - that's like laughing with the secret service about how you're going to kill the president.
Imagine if Shakespeare wrote with the same casualty that people use over IM? "2b or not 2b", "Where RU, romeo?", and "U 2, Brute?" just don't seem to carry the same weight as the originals.
Every group of friends has a lowest section of the totem poll - you know, the person they usually make fun of and is only really there for the pure entertainment value. The next time you go out with your friends, look around for a few minutes - and pray you can figure out who it is.
There's always one guy on every floor who panhandles. He goes from room to room, saying "dude, you got a quarter I could borrow for laundry?" By the end of the day, he's made $30 and sitting there in the lounge eating a whole pizza.
Some athletes are smart. Some are really smart. But who do these schools think they're kidding when they let in the dumb kids? Like the rest of us can't figure out what's going on when the thick-necked guy in the football jersey is struggling to tell us who composed Beethoven's ninth.
My friends study computer science, architecture, and biology, but they all say they're engineers. You know why writers never say they're engineers? Because we can think of more than one word for "guy who designs stuff."
Dorm rooms are so tiny, but they prepare you to live anywhere and be happy. You spend four years living in an 8' by 8' room, and then you get to the real world and have to find an apartment. The first one you see is a studio, and all you can think is "this is the biggest single I have ever seen in my entire life."
A lot of professors can't add. My midterm was worth 35% of my grade once. My final was worth 40%, and two papers were 10% each. But that final 5% of my grade made sure I came to class and participated every single day, or I would have failed.
Here's a tip - NEVER fly back home the morning after the last day of finals. If you think fighting a vicious hangover on one hour of sleep was bad in your dorm room, try doing it at 20,000 feet.
When you get to your last final of the semester, you are so burnt out that you don't even care. You studied half as much as you did for the other ones, you probably don't remember to bring a pen, and when you finish, you don't check your answers over because you just want to hand it in and get the hell out of there. And you know why you can do that? Because you know that everyone else is doing the exact same thing.