>>> About Last Night…
By staff writer Ali Wisch

January 20, 2008

There are three different phases that you go through in your college experience. There is your entrance into college, which I will call the “Freshmen Fifteen.” Then there is a phase midway through college which I will call “Your 21st Birthday.” And last but not least there is a phase at the end of your college career when you begin to transition into the real world, which I will call “Unemployment.” If you are between the ages of 17 and 25, I’m sure you can currently relate to at least one of the phases, if not all three. While each phase differs from the other, they all have one thing in common: major suckage—and I’ll tell you why.

Sure, at first, arriving at college seems like the best thing ever. You have finally been released from the confines of the home you were raised in and the authority of your parents. You can drink all day and have sex with random strangers all night. You can skip a class without having to forge a note signed by your mom, which you bought special tracing paper for in high school. Life is great. You couldn’t be happier.

Then you go home for Thanksgiving break. You walk in the door of the suburban house you grew up in, step onto the polished wooden floor in your foyer, and everyone runs up to suffocate you with hugs and kisses. Then they start throwing questions at you like darts at a dart board.

“You then spring onto the scale like an Olympic hurdler off of the spring board. Fifteen pounds.”

They ask you how your classes are, if you’re getting along with your roommate, and how the food is in the cafeteria. You answer, making up stories about your classes because surely you never go. You tell stories about how well you get along with your roommate—stories which are true, for the most part, because you’ve only spent about ten minutes total with her since she caught the “falling in love and pretending that you are married” disease many freshmen catch. In other words, your roommate has officially fallen off the face of the earth. You also tell your family that the cafeteria food is horrible and gives you diarrhea because, let’s be honest, it does.

As you are reciting all this back to your information-hungry relatives, you take note of something: everyone is eyeing you in a weird kind of way. Checking you out, looking you up and down like the creepy old men who work at the car repair shop down the street. You don’t understand why until your favorite aunt pulls you into the TV room and begins whispering to you, even though the two of you are already alone.

“Honey,” she pauses, “it looks like…you might have put on a little…weight.”

You gasp, fighting back the tears, and then, like a deer in headlights, you run out of the TV room and climb four stairs at a time until you are safely locked in the upstairs bathroom. You then spring onto the scale like an Olympic hurdler off of the spring board. Fifteen pounds, it says. You have gained fifteen pounds. You step off, wait a minute, and step back on. You close your eyes and pray for the first time ever. You open your eyes…the number is the same. You curse at God.

Beyond the weight gain and the depression that spurs from it, there is also a little thing called your GPA. Throughout your first two semesters your priorities went something like this: party first, homework later; sleep first, class later. And we all know what happens when you don’t do your homework or go to class. So, now that your parents have seen through your failed attempt at trying to change the grades on your transcript with a permanent marker, you have to beg and plead for them not to pull you out of school. They have seriously assured you that there is always room in the family biz and it would be no trouble at all to turn “Brown & Sons” into “Brown & Sons & Their College Dropout Sister.”

If you thought that was bad, welcome to the next stage of your college experience: “Your 21st Birthday.” Depending on your luck, you probably fall on one end of the following spectrum: either all of your friends turn 21 almost an entire year before you, or you turn 21 almost an entire year before them. If you’re on the younger end, this means you’re automatically going to be a designated driver for a year. If you’re on the older end, it means you will be the designated shopper for all of your friends’ beer, and quite possibly their younger brothers and sisters.

That being said, you probably won’t have any friends to go to the bar with either, and if you do have friends to go to the bar with, chances are you will gain back the freshmen fifteen that you spent the past year and a half trying to lose. You will drink thousands upon thousands of calories every night, in the shape of beer, martinis, and shots you bought just for their fancy names. Speaking of shots, they’ll be the reason your bank accounts drops below zero weekly. Long story short, you’ll wind up fat and broke shortly after you turn 21. Happy birthday.

Now your college experience is coming to a close. You don’t have enough credits to graduate, but your school will let you walk. This has happened to so many friends of mine I actually wonder if anyone ever has enough credits to graduate, or if every student is secretly taking those two summer classes to get their real diploma. Once you complete those summer courses, congratulations, you now have a degree in anthropology from a no-name school, and you’re faced with a tough, possibly life-changing decision: Do you move back home or sell crack on the street? As good as selling crack sounds….

So you’re back living with your folks and younger siblings. You can’t get blackout drunk anymore and attempt to burn down your kitchen, or bring strangers home to tie up and whip—both of these things disappoint you. That and you are now working at the local video store or bagging groceries. On a daily basis you consider wearing a nametag that says, “I’m a fucking college graduate.” It’s unfortunate that you work in a place that screams “high school dropout,” but what are you going to do? So you go with the nametag.

I look forward to the day when I can look back at my college years and forget all of the crap that I trudged through to make it into the real world. One day, we’ll all get there. In the mean time, suck it up, ‘cause it’s a bumpy ride.

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