The following is an email I sent to my mom September 9, 1999: my first week of classes at Franklin & Marshall College. I have been searching for this piece of writing for 15 years, and my mom just nonchalantly handed me the worn, yellowed, folded, written-on paper today. I could have cried. I guess I was trying to blog before blogging even became a thing. What the Hell?
I want you to read this, print it out, and then read it to Dad, my brother, Nana, and Pap. I think you ought to know where your $33,000 is really going.
After one week of college classes, I find that I am already wondering why I am here. I have no idea how any of these things I am doing are going to help me get a job. I know I could write for a magazine starting today, but I wouldn’t have that precious “BA” behind my name to prove it.
The very first thing I learned is that college is not about the classes. I just saw a sign that reads: “Don’t let classes interfere with your education.” This is so true. College teaches you how to deal with the most undesirable circumstances.
You don’t come here for the food. You don’t come here for the living facilities. You certainly don’t come here to take baths. You learn how to wear the same pair of jeans for four days and the same t-shirt for three days, just so you save yourself from having to do laundry. You learn how to sleep in the noisiest of places, how to get a shower at just the right time so there isn’t anyone around flushing toilets or using the showers upstairs to put your precious hot water in jeopardy, and how to read four novels in three days. You also learn how to run a movie and CD rental store. You learn how to eat snack food in moderation, so you don’t gain the Freshman 15 five times.
College is a learning experience, not an institution of learning. You find a way to deal with people you would never approach if you didn’t absolutely have to. You learn how to cram an entire house into a space 14’ x 16’. You learn that professors do not teach; they make you question everything you thought you have known to be true since you were five years old. You do not ask questions unless you are prepared to defend not only yourself but also the previous four student speakers. You learn to read and analyze and take more notes than you will ever need in your life, so that when the professor asks you to write a paper on what you just “learned,” you have some sort of material to make that paper magically materialize.
And, you ask yourself, is this really worth being in debt for the next 30 years of my life? And, you answer yes. Because learning how to eat pizza that is fresh, cold, not-so-cold, not-so-warm, reheated, preheated, soggy, and hard is definitely worth something. But, the best advice you gain from a college student is this: if it moves, don’t eat it. It’ s probably your roommate.
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