Some tips to get through college

After five years here, the best piece of advice I can offer is try not to learn too much.

I have spent five years making mistakes at the University. After such experiences as I have accumulated, I believe that I have some rather sound advice for youngsters. It is this advice I hope to give here.

These columns are a dime a dozen. Everyone has some piece of advice when it comes to college. I remember reading a column by a Daily columnist that said basically what I’m going to say here. I didn’t keep the advice I was given, so my first bit of advice for all you underclassmen is to listen up.

After five years in college, the greatest piece of advice I can offer is try not to learn too much. This has a caveat; I’m talking specifically about liberal arts classes.I will receive degrees in two liberal arts programs. It wasn’t until my senior year that I realized this. I have no idea the damage done to my thinking by liberal arts classes.

Pass all your classes. You might think that this doesn’t fit well with what I just said about not learning. However, you can pass a class and not learn. It’s a skill to be sure. But failing classes is something that is all but guaranteed to keep you in college an extra year or two.

Also, you should take two years of a foreign language. I don’t care if you’re an engineer or a math whiz, learning a second language is important to your education. Liberal arts majors have to learn another language, but it is valuable for anybody. I learned more in my language class than in any other class at the University.

And learn the language early. As soon as you can register for classes, do your best to get into an introductory class. Wait no longer than your first semester of your sophomore year. I did not do this, and this was one of the factors that led to my extended sentence here.

Take the judo class offered at the University. Its instructor is excellent, and the skills you learn will have application in your life. Remember that it is easier to gain weight than to lose it. So stay active, and get into the recreation center as much as possible. If you can, learn a little bit about your alma mater. I think that a class discussing the history of the University should be required. I’m not even sure if they offer one, though. But the University has been here for more than 150 years – you are part of that history.

Go to the occasional Gophers game. We have a lot of great athletic programs here at the University. Go see a few of them. I was never into sports, but my senior year I was dragged to a hockey game and a football game, now I’m hooked.

Never become roommates with a friend. That will only end in you detesting the existence of your buddy.

Get a credit card but use it sparingly. It is much harder to get a credit card after college than during. Resist the temptation to drink to excess. Keep your partying to a minimum. Still have fun, but just remember that you are a student first.

Be active in some extracurricular activities, whether in student government, a sports club, an ideological or political group or in a cultural center. Balance this with everything else that you do, but some important lessons will be learned. You might even find out that you’re a leader. Keep the values of your youth. I know people in college who dropped their devotion to their faith and I know those that kept their faith. The latter group, on the whole, was happier in the end.

Understand and accept the fact that the University hates you. Sure, some people in the administration or on the faculty are good people, but the University is, holistically, not on your side. Parking is a pain, holds can be crippling, any debt will be pursued and any favors will not be forthcoming.

Finally, graduate. It is one of the most difficult things to do here and only about half of you will succeed. If you follow my advice you give yourself a better shot. But I already know you won’t, so good luck anyway.

Marty Andrade is a University alumnus. Please send comments to [email protected]