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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

High School Is Not College

This year, due to circumstances largely beyond my control, I’ve been spending much more time with college freshman than I ever had to before. This is an experience I haven’t really had since I was, in fact, a freshman and one that I had hoped to avoid as much as possible. See, when I first got to college, I had no idea what I was doing. I sort of thought I knew what was going on, but in actuality, I had a very warped view of how things actually were – and at this point, I don’t have nearly enough temporal distance to be able to laugh at how embarrassing naïve I was.

So it’s good to know the incoming people are similarly misguided.

So I’ve decided, as a public service of Pacotech industries, to put together a few things I wish I had known when I started school. (Feel free to disagree with them, or add your own, or whatever)

Break Up With Your High School Boy/Girlfriend

A friend of mine and I, at the beginning of summer, went to stay with someone he knew in Ocean City for a weekend of heavy drinking and sitting in the sun. Sadly, we also managed to be there during something called “Senior Week.” Apparently, in Maryland, many of the graduating high school seniors migrate to Ocean City and the various Maryland beach towns to celebrate their impending freedom. And let me tell you: the most shocking thing about the whole experience was exactly how many high school couples there were. We even took to, whenever we saw one of these duos, yelling “FOREVER!!” in a faux-gay pitch.

The point being: so many people, when they go from high school into college, are involved in what they consider to be a “serious relationship.” These always end. In 99.99% of cases, the person you are, like, totally in love with as you go through orientation will be someone you barely talk to six months later. There are a million reasons for this, but possibly the biggest is this: you just went through four years with basically the same people. In some cases, as many as thirteen years where you sort of knew the majority of the people in your class. Sure, maybe there’s a new kid who moved to your town in 11th grade. But that kid probably had scabies, and wore the same Cure t-shirt 50 days in a row.

So what I’m trying to say is: when you take two people, and put them in a fixed set of people for most of their day, over time a sort of equilibrium will develop. People will settle for other people. And given the interconnectedness of the community, most high schools won’t have very many ‘player’ types simply due structural difficulties. This is why lawyers always marry other lawyers. But it’s also why your significant other is with you, or why you are with your significant other – because you settled for each other, due largely to a lack of other options and convenience. Sure, you may ‘love’ them or whatever, but the truth is, you just really like the fact that they let you see them naked. Or they buy you things.
Here’s the problem: if you go to the same college, the whole pecking order has just been undone. If you’re a girl, even if you were, like, the prettiest girl in the Salinas County High School glee club or something, now you’re competing with the girl who thinks wearing opaque shirts is so last season. If you’re a guy, you’re even more screwed because, let’s face it, now you’re competing with literally every guy on campus since the 18-year-old college freshman is practically in the Fetish Pantheon.

And if you go to different schools? Seriously, it’s over. Cut your losses and walk away because your significant other will have cheated on you by week four. And I don’t mean in a Cosby-show, kiss behind the bleacher kind of way. I mean full-blown pornstar intercourse. The best way to tell if your boyfriend/girlfriend is cheating on you is to ask yourself the following series of complicated questions:

a) Have you been apart for more than a month?
If yes, then:
b) Have they broken up with you?

If the answer to (b) is ‘no’ then the answer to ‘is your girlfriend waist deep in Dominican penis’ is ‘yes. Oh sweet God, yes.’

Many of you might consider this to be a tragedy. Those of you who do are wrong and probably harboring homosexual tendencies. See, the other thing about these codependent relationships is that they tend to keep you from actually enjoying your first year. Don’t mistake this to mean that you have to be a hookup machine and hence need to be unattached. It’s just that all of the “I love YOU more”s are going to take time out of doing stuff you should actually be doing. Like learning to smuggle cereal out of the dining halls.

Any freshman who stumbles across this and wants to bet me that they’ll be with the same person this time next year, just E-mail me and bet me $100. Just make sure I can contact you to collect when you inevitably realize how right I am.

Nobody Cares About High School

When I came to college, I thought I was sort of awesome because I had a high SAT score and had taken a grip of AP classes, and was state champion of some thing. Then, in my first discussion section, I sat between an African prince and a Russian kid who had won an Olympic silver medal. Oh, and by “prince” I don’t mean one of those ceremonial titles. I mean, he actually had about forty people back home who would kill for him. Suddenly, I realized an important truth: everything you did in high school is completely, laughably insignificant.

The reason for that is very simple: unless you did something that is de facto impressive (like write a book or kill six Germans in WWII with a piece of driftwood), it’s still less advanced than even simple things to most college upperclassmen. You were the high school debate champion of the universe and several parallel dimensions? So what? You won the 4H pig growing competition? Great. Nobody cares. So don’t bring it up, since it makes you look less precocious than “complete ass.” And the more you talk about high school, the more people will generally wish that you’d just go back there.

You’ll also note that most of the people who relive high school constantly are the ones with very little going for them in college. For freshman, it’s natural, since high school is the most recent part of their life. But for people who are not freshman, they just associate those things with “the loser who writes ‘dick’ on the desks in pencil.”

To be continued….

cranked out at 7:27 AM | |

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