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Start by scheduling a few Internet-free hours each day, with your phone turned off. It’s the only way you’ll be able to read anything seriously, whether it’s Plato or Derrida on Plato. (And remember, you’ll get more out of reading Derrida on Plato if you read Plato first.) This will also have the benefit of making you harder to reach, and thus more mysterious and fascinating to new friends and acquaintances.
When you leave your room for class, leave the laptop behind. In a lecture, you’ll only waste your time and your parents’ money, disrespect your professor and annoy whoever is trying to pay attention around you by spending the whole hour on Facebook.
You don’t need a computer to take notes — good note-taking is not transcribing. All that clack, clack, clacking ... you’re a student, not a court reporter. And in seminar or discussion sections, get used to being around a table with a dozen other humans, a few books and your ideas. After all, you have the rest of your life to hide behind a screen during meetings.
— CHRISTINE SMALLWOOD, Ph.D. student in English and American literature at Columbia
• • •
First-years are under an unbelievable pressure not only to succeed, but to excel in college. They walk into a university already feeling guilty that they don’t know what they want to major in, or what their career path is going to be. But be comfortable with the fact that you don’t know anything. Nobody does.
During my first week in art school, I sat in a dark lecture hall as a professor asked questions I couldn’t answer and showed slides I couldn’t identify. I felt as if I was the only one in the room who didn’t have a clue. So, when my drawing teacher invited several of us students to a potluck dinner at her house, I was still worried that I was out of my league. But in this casual setting, everyone opened up, and I was able to talk about art in the most relaxed and personal way.
As we returned to the dorms in the back of our now-favorite professor’s pickup truck, I remember looking up at the night sky and the trees whizzing by and thinking, “This is what college is supposed to feel like!” Relax and enjoy the ride.
— EVAN LaLONDE, student in the M.F.A. program in contemporary art practice at Portland State University
• • •
During the first few months of college, everyone wants to make friends. But no one knows how to do it, so everyone is really friendly all the time. You are likely to find yourself feigning interest in and enthusiasm for a lot of things to ingratiate yourself with your peers. “You’re a semiprofessional mime? So cool. Where are you going out tonight?”
Eventually, mercifully, it all shakes out. Parties, activities, dorms and classes help you find people you actually like to talk to. That is, unless you’re in your room every night, on the phone with your high school sweetheart, who’s back home or at another school. Or worse, you’re leaving school every other weekend to visit your significant other. Break up.
You should break up soon because you are likely to break up over Thanksgiving, anyway. You’ll give it an earnest try, but you’ll start to resent each other for forming new attachments, for not really “getting” what it’s like at your respective schools, for being the reason you’re both missing out on important experiences, like the hectic social sorting that’s happening right now. Worse, other people will punish you for missing out: “Oh, yeah, the joke is kind of hard to explain. See, it started that weekend you were out of town.”
Going to the same college as your significant high school other will not necessarily solve the problem. This is what happened to me. My boyfriend didn’t like my new “scene”; I panicked because I felt that we were spending too much time — then too little time — together. We limped through the first two months of the first semester before we called it quits.
The college year went by, bringing a lot of new people and priorities into our separate lives. The following fall, we realized that all our growing pains had not diminished what was a very precious connection. We ended up getting back together and staying together through the rest of college. But we had to break up first.
— REBECCA ELLIOTT, Ph.D. student in the sociology department at the University of California, Berkeley
Source: The New York Times