The Shrubbery
September 1999
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Welcome to College


by Jason Morrison

We admit it. Not all of our readers are young professionals--the emerging technological elite. Some of them are high school students. And some of those are probably seniors. And some of those are probably going to college, right about-now.

I am in college. Jessica is in college. Dan is in college, but he's not happy about it. Even Todd is in college, though he could have fooled everyone last semester. So we are experts at college.

So if you are a new freshman in college, here is a short FAQ about college life.

1) What is college?

College is a bunch of buildings in the middle of a small town or large city or cornfield or something. If that is not specific enough, it is also defined as an institution of higher learning for human children. Few animals go to college, except dogs that can kick field goals.

2) What's the difference between a college and a university?

Colleges don't have graduate students working as teaching assistants to defend professors from having to teach kids. Universities also have bigger stuff a lot of the time, like bigger endowments and buildings. The professors, conversely, are smaller-that is why they need to be defended from students, who are often very large because they grew that way in high school.

3) Should I go to college?

Not everyone is fit for college. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to pursue a particular field of study further, such as physics or women's studies?
  • If not, do I want to work in a career that requires a college degree?
  • If not, do I want to get away from my parents, and will they pay for me to do so if I'm still in school?
  • If not, can I just ignore the incredible cost by getting loans and maxing out credit cards, and would like to go to all the parties and meet new people?
  • If not, do I enjoy drinking, often for free, with little or no consequences? Can I drink enough to deaden the weight of the crushing debt I've amassed?
  • If not, am I insane? What the hell was I thinking?

4) Is college hard?

The truth is that difficulty varies so much from school to school and course to course that not much can be said definitively about this question. But here are a few quick rules of thumb:

  • The better your football program, the higher chance that there are really easy classes out there to be found;
  • Anything with math in it is hard;
  • Any math course will be three times harder than any social science course with math involved;
  • Any physical science is hard;
  • Art classes might not seem hard, but art professors like to give bad grades;
  • Everything else is exactly one-half as hard as math;
  • Except for French, which is no longer taught in colleges as it is a dead language.

5) So I'm going to college-what should I bring?

Chances are the school will provide everything you need for you for free-why else would they charge you $23,000 a year? Most likely you will have room, food, books, clothes and friends taken care of for you before you even get there. Many schools also offer a healthy CD stipend.

If you have some things that carry personal meaning for you, like pictures of friends or a Nintendo 64, you are encouraged to bring them. I would also personally recommend against buying a computer specifically for school-both the Y2K crisis and the impending adoption of worldwide Ecash will make your $1,000 investment a liability. If you have the Internet at home right now, be sure to put it on a disk before you leave for school.

6) How do a I choose the school that's right for me?

If you've taken a look at the admissions materials, viewbooks, and web sites of most schools, you've probably noticed that it's very hard to weigh schools against one another based on these materials alone. In reality, the similarities between viewbooks are not a result of similar marketing strategies or slick, but empty production values.

The truth? All schools are exactly the same. That's why there's exactly one Asian kid on page three of every viewbook. Numbers like "student-faculty ration" and "average incoming SAT verbal" are made up at random by computers and scientists.

We at the Shrub hope this has been helpful. If you have further questions, feel free to mail them to The Robot From The Future, who knows all.

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