Getting the least out of your college experience

| Forum Editor

So, you’ve settled for Washington University in Saint Louis. Congrats. You didn’t want to go to Georgetown anyway. Welcome, or whatever. It’s typically the job of someone in my position to offer advice on how to “make the most” of your college education.

Funny choice of words, since, when I take stock of our student body I’d say if anything we were working hard to make the least of our college educations. The happiest among us take no class before eleven and fulfill our Quantitative Analysis requirements with courses designed not to require quantification or analysis, classes with vaguely insulting titles like “Stars and Galaxies” or “Dinosaurs.” We take glass blowing, guitar lessons, and anything at the business school to pimp out our GPA’s as if they were they point of our education, and even that effort taxes us greatly.

We were all once capable, organized high-school grads like you, and now our idea of fun involves a case of Natural Light, a funnel, a length of tube, and some good ol’ primeval chanting. So I don’t really know what to tell you if you want to make the most of your time here. You’re probably pre-med and already better prepared to meet the challenges of adult life than I’ll ever be. I guess I’ll just tell you the stuff I wish people had told me back when I was a freshman:

The Student Body
You will never have to associate with anyone from your freshman floor ever again if you so choose, so feel free to treat them as a long-running social experiment. Remember, It’s only as awkward as you acknowledge it to be. Also, be very delicate when addressing the subject of Israel, no matter how egregious its human rights violations may strike you.

The Food
At school it’s pretty decent, but the meal point system is kind of a rip-off. At the end of the semester you will almost certainly have a whole lot of extra meal points or know someone who does. These don’t carry over, so you’ll lose any you don’t spend. I’ve heard you can donate them to charity, but more fun is to be had splurging on some expensive bottles of wine at Ibby’s restaurant. I recommend the Cakebread Cellars Pinot Noir, which is exorbitantly priced (but then again, it’s not your real money). When ordering out, remember that all the “local” pizza joints that deliver suck. Pointer’s is tasteless and Imo’s uses a greasy cheese substitute they call Provel which will coat your mouth with an uncanny goo-like sensation, quite slick and deeply unpleasant. Stick with Papa John’s. Saint Louis itself does great frozen custard, decent barbecue and passable Italian. As for more far-ranging fare, eat at your own risk: they put cream cheese in the sushi. I’ll leave it at that.

Saint Louis at large
Explore the city, but don’t get your hopes up. It was one of the most economically depressed cities in America before this depression hit. Then they sold Budweiser to the Belgians. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Fake IDs
Are essential. No buts about it. There are a couple of places on the landing that are super strict about it, as well as Blueberry Hill. Invest in one that scans, otherwise you’ll just end up having to buy another one after your crappy one gets confiscated. You should always have a second form of ID at the ready, but that doesn’t mean you should keep it in your wallet. You’re liable to lose your wallet or your purse at some point and if it ends up with the campus cops, they will go through it and give you an instant fine. Don’t let the hassle of getting a fake turn you off of one. Without it you risk actually having to look forward to those Frat Row basement parties. That reminds me –

Frat Row Basement Parties
Are as hot crowded and boring every time. They are a yearly thing, and they do not improve. Once is enough, perhaps too much. Guys, you’ll be competing for hookups with upperclassmen. Girls, as freshmen, there is pretty much a price on your head. So if fumbling, meaningless coitus is your thing, you’re at the right venue. Dress accordingly. He will not call you.

Illegal Downloading
The freshmen dorms have encryption all over them, which can make pirating a chore until you move off campus. However, many of the classrooms’ and the entire library’s wireless connections are to date unencrypted. Do your downloading there, but be careful: unlike some schools, Wash. U. does not have your back on this if the RIAA decides to sue you.

So there’s a taste of the useful wisdom I’ve actually gained at this place, but I’m learning all the time. Like, did you know it’s a bad idea to climb all the way up Brookings because that’s where they keep the tornado sirens, which can deafen you if you’re within 50 feet of them? Neither did I.

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