Graduation opens doors to new knowledge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

With graduation nearing I always like to take time out of my busy schedule to give graduating seniors a little valuable advice about the challenges that await them. Many of you will soon be leaving your homes and comfort zones to head out into the brave new world on your own as college students.

Here is the most important piece of advice you may ever receive. No matter how much you think you know, no matter what it says on your diploma, you don’t know squat. During this period of your life you will learn more than you ever thought possible, and I don’t mean exclusively in the academic sense.

College classrooms are a fountain of knowledge where, for the first time in your life, you can learn about the topics that interest you. No more mandatory, boring math or world history classes (with the exception of general studies) for you.

Unfortunately, there are several items your professors cannot and will not help you with. For many incoming freshman the first great beast they face is laundry. There is a reason dear old mom spent all that time sorting colors. Your laundry can mix together much in the same way your crayons did to form fantastic new colors. It only takes one red sock to make 10 pink t-shirts. If you do not want to spend your first week of school buying new tees and unmentionables I suggest you learn to sort.

My initial philosophy on laundry was if it fit it was getting washed. This game is a lot like roulette. At some point things are going to come up red and leave you in a terrible situation.

My second piece of ingenious advice is keeping a close watch on your diet. Man cannot survive on Taco Bell alone. If you do not take the time to get your hands on some “home cookin'” you will learn the damage the “freshman fifteen” can present. More times than not college freshman pack on a little bulk for the winter by surviving on fast food. It happens to us all. The real damage comes when they accept it, swear off exercise and turn that 15 pounds into a hundred by graduation.

Remember, walking to class will not kill you, fresh vegetables do not contain kryptonite and you are allowed to stay in shape. College was my first experience to catch up on all the television I had missed in high school. During this time I also developed a severe addiction to Golden Flake barbecue chips and distaste for running. I threw a Fry Daddy into the mix several years later and went into a downward spiral that saw me earn my first gut and nearly did in a yellow lab named Bubba who had begun his life in tip-top condition. Fortunately, Bubba and I were there to support each other and are once again slim and trim.

The third major challenge you will face is when to sleep and when to stay awake all night during the week. This is simple. When you will benefit stay up all night. When you will suffer don’t. College is meant to be fun, but it is never fun when you are packing up and moving home after one short year on your own. There is plenty of time to unwind (and plenty of need to with the demanding academic schedules you will face). The important thing is to prioritize the good times and study when you know you should be studying.

Your college experience is not to prepare you for the next step. It is to prepare you for the last step. College is where you will determine and prepare for your life’s calling. Take it seriously, always be willing to listen and learn and you will go far.