It doesn't matter which college or university we go to or what feuds we have with the community college across town. Every college student has a shared experience, one that's usually summed up as: not enough sleep, too much coffee, and stress, stress, and more stress. (Okay, with some occasional parties thrown in there.) The first stress is usually money-related. Even those who manage to come from a family financially well-off or can get a scholarship without pulling loans, there's the little matter of eating and you know - living. And rent. And textbooks... The second stress tends to be schoolwork and finals, because it is nothing like high school. (To all the high school students reading this, I'm sorry to burst your bubble.) And the third stress is everything else that cannot adequately be described in a single meme. So we got 15. Enjoy!
15 Decisions, Decisions...
In some areas of life, people can pull off all three spheres of social life, sleep, and good grades/work. We call those areas childhood and retirement. Everything in between tends to go one way or the other. Health is very important, and a good night's sleep is instrumental in that. But on the other hand, we're social creatures, and in school and jobs we need to get this thing done by that time or we're screwed. So we can prioritize work/school, spend time with friends and significant others, and exist on coffee beans and energy drinks. Or we can get our eight hours and go to that friend's house-warming party, if we don't mind being labelled a lazy bum. Or we can totally be introverted isolationists and bury ourselves in work and blankets.
If someone manages to swing all three, that is nothing short of witchcraft.
14 The Elixir Of Life
Coffee, lattes, Red Bull—whichever poison keeps you going, it's vital. It is the black elixir of life. Or reddish-brown/pink elixir of life, if you're in the energy drink group. Personally, I would be frothing at the mouth before collapsing from exhaustion and lack of the will to live if the Starbucks on campus shut down. Or the Ginkgo's down the street. Or any of the gas stations where I do my grocery shopping. (Yes. Parents and college students go grocery shopping at gas stations. They are surprisingly well-stocked and pretty cheap.) Bottom line, every college student relies on some form of caffeine at least once during their time in school. Closer to once a semester, when finals rolls around. No, wait, midterms - so, twice a semester. And any day we have a morning class...
13 The Elixir Of Death
Sometimes, especially around finals season, even if you do manage save the coffee from ultimate destruction, it's still not enough. There are three major tests to study for, half a dozen twenty-page papers to write, an oral presentation on some obscure technicality of the U.S. Constitution, your friends are demanding that you come to the end-of-the-semester party and get smashed (or be the designated driver while they get smashed), and of course you have to make rent and pay for groceries. So that means working four-to-six-hour shifts at the Target/Subway/Starbucks/wherever, while sneaking peaks at your open textbook under the counter when your boss isn't looking. And if one or more of your classes are before 10 a.m., you're doubly screwed. So, it's time to make the ultimate caffeinated concoction: put Red Bull in the coffeemaker instead of water. Desperate times call for desperate measures, my friend.
12 To-Do List On Hold
Admit it: half of you guys reading this have some kind of essay, project, or midterm tomorrow and are doing everything but your homework. It's all right. I have a paper due in three days, and instead I'm collecting funny memes and writing about them for popular entertainment. So I'm writing a paper, just not the one that's going to be graded. Or requires looking at an eight hundred-page textbook. Plus there's reading half of a textbook by Monday, an entire book by Tuesday, and half a dozen articles. Oh, and then there are the final papers that we're spending all semester researching and working on and upon which rests our entire grade. Plus the frantic and ever stressful venture of job-hunting and looking for a place to live. If you're a freshman/sophomore/junior, just wait until senior year, sweetie.
11 Plankton's Lesson In Time Management
"You can't write a twenty-page history paper in two days!" "Challenge accepted."
Oh, Spongebob Squarepants. Is there anything you can't do? Defy physics, teach karate, and now giving lessons on how to be a college student. Namely, procrastinating a major project for 90% of the semester (see above: looking at college memes rather than doing homework), and then cramming all the work into the last week and somehow managing a passing grade. That's one of the best things about college: if you don't plan on going to graduate school, your GPA doesn't mean squat so long as it's above 2.0. And if you do plan on going to graduate school, then you're constantly in maximum overdrive, collapsing in an exhausted heap over the summer before starting all over again. "Best four years of your life" my ass.
10 Now You See It, Now You Don't
The semester cycle can be described as thus for every single college student (or high school student, for that matter). Week One: dorm/apartment all organized. Backpack in one piece. Clothes are fresh and hair is done. Oozes energy and confidence. "I'm going to turn all my homework in on time, pass every test, work enough shifts to not have to worry about money, spend quality time with my friends and family, and be totally on top of everything!"
Week Four: A twister has ripped through the dorm. Backpack is stuffed with papers and tearing at the seems from carrying half a dozen textbooks across campus. Haven't done laundry in two weeks or showered in three days. Sparkle of hope and optimism has withered and died. "I don't know what I was thinking..."
9 Everyone Studying For Finals Week:
I have a theory: all of my professors are trying to kill me. They get together every summer and winter break with all the other professors to make sure their syllabuses line up. "Oh, you're assigning fifty pages from your law book on Monday? Perfect, I'll give them a ten-page paper to have it done that Thursday. Mark, how many calculus problems can you assign for Wednesday?" And for finals, they devise the perfect hell with massive papers, nail-biting oral exams, and two-hour tests. I think they're hoping one of three things will finish us off: caffeine overdose, massive gladiator fight for when the arguments break out from everyone being stressed, or the super-migraine some people get from trying to cram all that information in their heads. Satan has his work cut out for him.
8 The Problem With A Social Life...
Ah, the broke college student stereotype. Not much of a stereotype if it's true for 90% of the enrolled population. We're not poor, per se. That implies that we'll never get past the penny-pinching stage, when the whole point of going to college is to eventually make more money. For the most part, you need a degree to make more than minimum wage. But during those four or more years, nobody's going out to five-star restaurants unless they have millionaire parents. We learn the dread of staring at a debit card machine, watching the evil glow of Processing and praying that it goes through. Then breaking out into a little happy dance when it does, because it means you get to take all those groceries home! Or breaking into tears when it doesn't.
7 It's Cost Effective. By Which I Mean "You're Paying."
This is why college students shouldn't date other college students (or should try to date the rich ones). Dates can be expensive, especially if you're trying to impress someone. So if you're broke, or really need to save that fifty dollars for textbooks next month, you don't want to pay for dates. But if your significant other is someone who's not going to college and has some spare cash, have a date night every night! And yes, I am totally guilty of doing this. I dated a guy who went to a vocational school, and lived with his dad the rest of the time. So he usually ended up paying for dinner. I admit, as much as I loved spending time with him, most of the time I was just relieved I did not have to spend any money on food that night.
6 It's Almost Not Funny
Apparently, a generation or two ago, going to college was easy. Financially speaking, that is. Unless you were going to a private school, the state paid for most of tuition via public funding. And college administrations were much smaller than they are today, so faculty expenses were low enough that students didn't have to pay ungodly amounts of money for it. Students could literally pay for their college education just by working minimum-wage summer jobs and have a bit leftover to put in savings, which is a concept most of us today have categorized under "when pigs fly and shoot lasers out of their hooves." Awesome, but impossible.
Seriously, what happened? Why are we trying to run education centers as businesses? Getting a solid career is hard enough in this day and age without worrying about whether or not we can afford a degree.
5 What Groceries?
Nutrition isn't exactly a concept for college students (with the possible exception of biology and pre-med majors). Part of it is, as mentioned before, budgeting. But there are other reasons, such as time. We have to take the time to go out grocery shopping, and most of us don't have a car, making a 30-minute errand last two hours. (On the plus side, we don't feel guilty about missing the gym that day, since we're toting heavy grocery bags across town.) And when we do have groceries, we have to take the time to cook them. Chop the vegetables, fry the chicken, do the dishes...or we could pay eight bucks for frozen pizza that we just pop in the oven. Time is even more valuable than money, especially during midterms and finals. And then there's the fact that the majority of us are ages 18-22, which means we can convert nuclear waste into nutritional value. So long as it has calories and isn't poison, we'll eat it.
4 It's A Wonderful Life...Sorta
Stop me if this sounds familiar: "So how's college? Are there any night clubs? Have you gotten drunk yet? You're in a sorority/fraternity, so you must have some stories!" "What do you mean you need another hundred dollars? I gave you money last month! What exactly are you spending it on?" "Oh, you're in college? How's the party life?" "Your homework for next time is to read 150 pages from your textbook and write a paper on it. It's not as bad as it sounds, really." "Dear Lord, I need a nap..."
The sad thing is, it's not that much of an exaggeration. The good news is that 150 pages is usually for a night class, which only happens once a week, giving you seven days to complete it. The bad news is you have an average of three other classes. Plus work. Honestly, chilling in a bathtub of beer bottles is looking pretty attractive now...
3 Maturity In Two Stages:
I don't know about the rest of you, but my parents are religious about leftovers. If it fits into Tupperware and Ziploc bags, it goes right back in the fridge. If it gets to the point where we have more leftovers than fresh food, we do "catch as catch can," which is to say, "Eat whatever you want, just don't cook something new." We didn't complain about it too much, mostly because Mom's a good cook and made meals that tasted just as good from the microwave as the stove. So we didn't really care.
Now, in college, I hoard any leftovers I have like Smaug and his treasure in the Lonely Mountain. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I live in a sorority house with seven other women. May the odds be ever in your favor.
2 The Ultimate Prize
Eventually, the gallons of coffee and mountain of stress stop supporting us and we run out of steam. The most common thing I hear around campus when someone asks, "So what are your plans later today?" is "Sleep for a week." And that's okay, because after a long and rigorous week of final exams, we deserve a break. Some people might replace "juice" with "a shot of vodka" and "blankie" with "boyfriend/girlfriend" (or in my case, the very huggable pillow that I use instead of a stuffed animal in a weak attempt to remind myself that I need to be adulting). But the "nap nap" will never change. It is the light at the end of the tunnel, our savior from ninety-nine years of darkness, the ultimate prize for which we are all clawing for.
1 The Ultimate Conundrum
So, you're graduating in a few months. The whole reason you went through four or more years of toiling and budgeting is for that little piece of paper that says "you're qualified for whatever job you want in [insert field of study]." Everything else should be relatively simple, right? You apply for a few tasty positions and cross your fingers. Time to hit Google! And then you start actually searching for jobs and find a rather disturbing pattern. "Entry level position," great! That's perfect. "Requires at least five years of experience." THAT'S NOT WHAT ENTRY LEVEL MEANS! That's like saying you'll only teach people how to swim if they can splash around in the deep end without drowning. And people wonder why jobs are so hard to get these days.
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