Ahhhh… the College Years

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Ahhhh… the College Years

Nineteen years ago, I was packing for college.

Nineteen years ago, I knew so much more than I know now. With each passing year, I’m happier to admit that I am, in fact, clueless. Academic advisors in Athens were plentiful, but no one ever told me this stuff. Maybe I just didn’t hear them.

Ramen noodles are a complete meal. So are instant mashed potatoes. Kraft mac and cheese can definitely be made without milk. If you have milk, you can live for weeks on cereal alone.

The $6 cab fare is always worth it. If the school bus system has a Family Housing (for example) bus that goes downtown, you can take that, too. It’s free. Be aware of the schedules. They don’t run all night.

The free T-shirt they give you for signing up for a credit card isn’t really free. It comes with a hefty 17 percent monthly interest rate. It doesn’t matter that the cute card has your college mascot on it. It will still get you in trouble. Stick with cash.

Living on a budget is possible. Low checking account balances enhance creative thinking skills. It’s also possible to work, go to class and still have a life.

Check the couch cushions. Once, we found almost $10 in change in there.

Even if you’re going home for the holidays, get a Christmas tree. A potted plant can be decorated on limited funds.

Moving every year isn’t that uncommon. It doesn’t ever get easier. You can get packing boxes for free at the liquor store. Getting the security deposit back is totally worth the effort.

If you’re lucky, you’ll make forever friends. High school friends will always matter, but late-night porch talks after $1 beer night are the ties that bind. Are there still places that sell beer for $1? Remember when we had nickel night?

Even the best of friends don’t make perfect roommates. I’m incredibly messy. I tried to at least do the dishes. I kept my bedroom door closed most of the time.

Sharing clothes with your roommates is expected. Taking clothes without asking and wearing them to a smoky bar isn’t. You will get caught, and the rest of the apartment will talk about you.

Fights between roommates can be settled with a box of wine.

Just because she goes out with you doesn’t mean she wants to spend the night.

The first guy you date probably won’t become your husband.

I knew three people who got dogs in college and actually took care of them. As a general rule, wait until graduation. Your parents only recently got rid of you. They probably don’t want your dog.

Joining a sorority or fraternity isn’t mandatory or necessary, even in The South.

Promising to cook fried chicken for your boyfriend is a lofty goal. It isn’t as easy as it looks on TV, and unless the oil is the perfect temperature, the chicken will still be bloody when you go to serve it. Practice first, or stick to the basics. After eating ramen for the past three nights, he’ll be impressed by a Stouffer’s lasagna and bagged salad.

Sign up for 8 a.m. classes as a last resort only. If you can avoid Fridays altogether, I highly recommend it. Trust me. Attendance policies are no joke.

Skipping class on the first sunny day in the spring is not only acceptable, it’s required.

Every year, take at least two classes not required by your major. You might be surprised.

Don’t feel pressured to declare a major on the first day of classes. And yes, you can change your mind.

Your parents don’t have to know about the cash refund for returning your textbooks. Consider it a bonus. Buy milk.

Have fun, but don’t get sent home. Remember the dog? They don’t want you back, either. Mom and Dad have been looking forward to this for years.

They’ll cry when you leave. They’re sad and proud. They’ll celebrate your absence. During holiday breaks, they’ll tell everyone you’re coming home. They might seem crazy. The day your first child is born, it will all make sense.

I don’t have regrets. Okay, I kind of wish my friend hadn’t prank called my high school boyfriend — did you know you can go to jail for that? Otherwise, I’d do it all again. My only complaint is that I can’t. Enjoy it while it lasts, kids. The rest of your life is an 8 a.m. class. Attendance mandatory.

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