I just left my speech to incoming Humanities and Social Sciences Freshmen, and wanted to share some extra advice. Not all of it applies to you, and some of you may be offended, but here goes:
- Get tested. Not for STDs, though the Liberty Ave Planned Parenthood is great for that, but for your Myers-Briggs personality type. It could cost a few hundred dollars after college, but is free at CMU. Make sure to chat with your career advisor afterwards to unpack how being an introvert can help you with public speaking or an extrovert with studying.
- Get out of Pittsburgh. Leave. By Amtrak, Megabus, plane or bicycle, check out DC or New York some weekend. The time traveling and chatting with fellow travelers will put your studies in perspective.
- Buy a vibrator. You need to know how you’re wired to be a good partner, whether tonight or in 10 years, and unless orgasms-without-babies violate your personal morals, solo-sex is the safest sex there is. You can buy them at the Chocolate Moose in Squirrel Hill, or here for about the cost of 3 lattes with shipping.
- Learn an employable skill. These are not as difficult as you think. Learn to answer crisis calls professionally, write a blog, do peer counseling, tweet, raise money, design a website. You will be a better candidate for internships (where the real fun is) and get more done while there if you have a few job skills.
- Make friends with administrators by being in their programs. Apply to be in IMPAQT and go to our Qatar campus, apply for the Posner Internship and work with the lovely Mary Kay, be an OC next year and work with Anne Witchner.
- Study abroad. I loved Qatar, but maybe you’ll really enjoy Peru, or Ghana, or Hong Kong. Like travel inside the United States, travel abroad contextualizes and enriches your studies. Again, the more job skills you have, the more fun it will be.
- Use Netflix/Hulu/the Carnegie Library. Or any other legal way to get copyrighted content, not for moral reasons, but because you can find most of what you want that way and it will leave you feeling cleaner.
My biggest piece of advice is: get pissed off. You should be kind to those around you, particularly to secretaries and food-service folk, but choose (randomly if necessary) to be passionate about something. You can always change what it is later, but training yourself to be involved and motivated to fix something (human trafficking, copyright, CMU’s 20%-a-year tuition increase) will give you more fulfillment than that can of Natty Light.
Reading this and seeing something drastic I missed? Leave it in the comments. Thanks!
“Of course there’s a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don’t take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates”–Abbott Lawrence Lowell