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The Syllabus You Won’t Get in Class

Dec 30, 2014 12:07PM ● Published by Kelly Pernell

By Patrick King

Freshman year of college can best be described by the first words of Charles Dickens’s, A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” As I approach my first week of finals as a student at Penn State, I feel that I have learned just as much at frat houses and football games as I’ve learned in lecture halls and libraries.

The most important thing to know about college is that classes are not the only important aspect of student life. To the people who are spending a modest sum of $26,000 a year for tuition and room and board, this comment sounds ludicrous. But getting involved is key to any student’s success. This year, I joined two student government groups: College Democrats and Springfield, an organization benefiting THON. In the spring of 2015, I plan on joining a fraternity. Although it may not seem logical, my academic achievements have increased. Through the organizations I joined, I made friends who have pushed me to be more involved in my major; these are friends with whom I study, and friends who support me emotionally.

Another unfortunate and inevitable truth about a student’s first year at college is that he or she will break down emotionally. This is one aspect of college that I wish someone had mentioned. Whether it is a failed exam, a night spent in the bathroom after overindulging, or a rocky breakup, something will cause most college students to break down and want to drop out of school. However, if you have a close friend, you can overcome almost any obstacle.

One of the most surprising aspects of college thus far has been upperclassmen and professors encouraging students to blow off steam. My economics professor told the class after our first exam to “go out and go wild” with friends (within confines of the law, of course). This has proven to be one of the most useful tactics; the easiest way to burn out is to overload with work. So after a big midterm, don’t be afraid to go to a frat party, stay out late or binge watch a series on Netflix.

College is a huge adjustment from high school, but I’ve loved every minute of it. My advice to any senior in high school eagerly awaiting move-in day is this: Attend class, study hard, get involved, be yourself, branch out, go out, and just order that pizza–you deserve it.  

Ed. Note:  Patrick King is the recipient of the Maureen Lutz Journalism Scholarship, provided by North Hills Monthly and the Zelienople Rotary Club.

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