Mid to late August is the time of year that life starts to change. The lazy days of summer, those long afternoons by the pool, are coming to an end. The sunshine that beckoned us awake in order to enjoy its warmth will soon be cursed for rising too early.
For the youth of the Valley, school is about to begin. The fall is just around the corner and students will soon be filling the stands for the Friday night football games. For many, this will be a new year in a new place. Fresh faces starting a new chapter in their lives. For the seniors, this is the last hurrah and that last chance to fulfill those high school dreams.
This is also the time of year when many of our young residents will be leaving the Valley and heading to college.
The time spent away at college can be the best years of a person's life. I know, everyone over the age of 25 will tell you how much college meant to them and how much fun they had, blah, blah, blah. But, for those who are about to head off for the first time, take that to heart.
My younger brother is about to head off for his first year of college. It
really doesn't seem like it has been that long since I was on my way to Kent State, but I'm becoming an old man. As he begins his college career I feel it my duty as a big brother and as a topic-stuck columnist to say a few things to the young people of the Valley.
The first thing a college freshman needs to know is that you need to memorize your class schedule, room numbers and campus map immediately. Why? The roaming bands of freshmen who gather in large clumps and stare blankly at the mini-pile of paper they were given at orientation are obvious to everyone. You want to look like you've been there before, relaxed and cool as you walk without worry toward your first 300-student lecture class.
That leads me to the next thing - don't buy your books the first week of class. This is actually very good advice and may save you a couple hundred bucks. Usually, a professor will give you a buffer between starting class and needing the materials. In some cases, the book that the class calls for is never opened. Plus, if you make good friends with a cute girl or guy, they may be willing to share the book with you. If the professor says you have to have it, get it at the secondhand bookstore. Books are expensive and if you can get them cheap, do whatever you have to do. Example, I bought one economy book my junior year. One book - $250. How much did I sell it back for? $35.
Also, no matter how good the food at the student cafeteria may be at first, take it easy. You will get your fill of everything on the menu, and by February you will be sick of it. Don't go overboard at first, because that rumored ''freshmen 15'' isn't a joke. It really happens, and it happens quick. Also, the wraps at Kent (if you are a future Flash) are pretty good.
What is important to know about that college experience is to eat it up. Take every single minute in and enjoy it. (By enjoy it, I don't mean spend all your time at the bars and at parties.) The times spent in college are such an amazing time of growth and personal discovery. You will meet people who will change your life and you will meet people that are as weird as anything you've ever imagined, but that's what is great.
Sometimes, believe me, I know, classes can feel like a drag. They get in the way of sleep and the homework can cut into the abundant free time you are going to have. Trust me, class only lasts a few hours. You are about to have more free time than you know what to do with. But classes can open your eyes to ideas and thinking that you never expected.
You will meet faculty who makes you want to pull your hair out, but on occasions you will meet a professor who will blow you away. I had one in the English department who I still regard as one of the finest people, not just educators, I've ever met. He was tough and his class work was difficult, but in the end it made me a better student and person.
You are about to embark on an incredible time in your lives. Don't waste a second. There are a million organizations and clubs to get involved in. If you are interested in something, go for it. Try everything the school offers because you may find something that you really love without ever knowing it. Go to the lectures, hear the speakers and work as hard as you can. It will pay off.
Spend each day with an appreciation for the world that is in front of you. Don't waste your time looking forward to being done, because you will regret it when you are gone.
If I could do it all again, I would go back to freshman year again and again, walking with my map over my face, stuffed with cheeseburgers and carrying a bag full of books I never needed. It really is the time of your time. Enjoy it.
Joshua is a proud graduate of Kent State University. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.