Reflection and suggestion from the old and semi-wise

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*This post is catered primarily towards an audience of underclassmen SUNY Fredonia students, but also includes information relevant to a variety of up-and-coming college students.

Prepare yourself for a sentimental blurb from a graduating college senior, and hopefully some beneficial words of wisdom.

I have now spent nearly four years of my life in this place. I’ve had many valuable experiences here, some that were enlightening and worthwhile, and others that were juvenile and reckless. I have done things that I now thoroughly regret, and others that were extremely rewarding in retrospect.

I have significantly evolved as a person. My perspective on life has transformed and I have become a very different individual than when I first stepped foot in Fredonia in 2008, for better or for worse. My skin is thicker, my outlook is clearer, and my philosophies are deeper. I owe it to the people I have met along the way, and the strange opportunities and instances that have presented themselves throughout my collegiate inquisition.

I will be walking the plank of academia in mere weeks, and before doing so have compiled a series of experiences that I deem exceptionally valuable from my time here thus far. I would implore the fledgling underclassman to seize the day and live these exploits in the way they best see fit prior to graduation. So here you are folks:

Spend the summer in Fredonia. As an alternative to retreating to your hometown for the three or more summers you will have between academic years, rent out a cozy local abode and find full time work. It’s a whole lot easier than it seems, and rent is as cheap as 100 bucks a month. Despite the bad taste that often-harsh western New York winters leave, this town is tranquil and beautiful in the summertime. You can make bank working 40-hour weeks and enjoy yourself in the down time. There is a tight-knit community of really excellent folks that forms in the off-season. Expand your horizons, meet new people, have the time of your life and potentially walk away with a good chunk of cash when Fall semester rears its ugly head.

Live off campus. The Fredonia campus is a pleasant little bubble that you will unavoidably spend a lot of time occupying as a student. But come junior year, do yourself a huge favor and get the hell out of there. There are a myriad of places to choose from and rent in this town that are a reasonable walking distance from the campus. You will save loads of money depending on where you choose to live. You will be able to buy your own food and cook your own meals. You will dictate your own coming and going and your own house rules. You won’t regret it.

Throw that big Fred Fest kegger, but don’t get caught. We don’t all choose to partake in alcoholic celebrations, but assuming that you do, this feat is a must. It takes a bit of organization and diligence, but it’s going to result in a story for the recordbooks. Perhaps not one that you’ll be telling to your grandchildren around the fireplace, but nonetheless commendable. Just make sure it’s slightly less conspicuous than the neighbor’s hoopla and you’ll avoid the authorities’ attention.

Get involved. Find something you’re passionate about and join a campus or community organization. You’ll meet people that you would never have otherwise spoken to. They will provide you with friendship, diverse knowledge, and become valuable connections after you’re done with college. Going to class gets you a degree. It’s the extra steps that set you apart from the rest and eventually get you a job.

Step outside your comfort zone and take some big risks. That’s what college is for. Consider any potentially illegal or otherwise physically harmful escapades before you go through with them, but don’t be afraid to get ballsy and do something off the beaten path. So go talk to that beautiful girl at the end of the bar, question your professor’s best judgement, and switch out of that major that’s making you ungodly miserable. While things might go horribly awry when you try new stuff, the outcome will change you in completely unexpected ways.

Of course there is more that I’d love to share, but take these fleeting reflections into consideration. Work hard and play hard, this is a short time of your life that you ought to make the best of. I can only hope this helps.

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Sleeping under the stars: Check

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On the first Easter Sunday that I spent away from family and delicious ham dinners, some friends and I decided to brave questionable weather conditions and set off on an overnight camping getaway to the nearby natural paradise of Arkwright Falls.

A half mile hike to our makeshift campsite and colder-than-expected nighttime lows were small prices to pay for the fun evening we got out of it. Here’s a few photo highlights.

Your host and his devious associate TK, rock basking as we waited for the slower folks to make their way down the hill.

The lot of us enjoying a rustic hotdog feast post-camp set up.

Here we observe the young hooligans partaking in a game of good ol’ fashioned stumping. If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, I would implore you to read up and try yourself. Nothing better than simultaneously swigging a cold brew and spinning a hammer through midair. Just don’t forget to clean up after yourself, the last thing mother nature wants is a bunch of rusty nails hanging around for the poor little deer to step on.

 

The Student Loan Forgiveness Act

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Check out my colleague Sean’s story on the Student Loan Forgiveness Act as he details the recent history behind the legislation, followed by the varying analytical viewpoints of local professors.

And while you’re at it, give Sean’s blog a peek.

I’m willing to bet that the majority of visitors here are 90s babies, so I can guarantee you’ll find something worthwhile (or at least mildly nostalgic). Here it is: The 20th Century Closing

A praise-pampered generation entering the workplace

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Check out the Wall Street Journal’s analysis of a needy generation of college graduates entering the workplace.

For kids who were constantly bombarded with praise throughout their youth and the instilled idea that they’re each a special individual, old habits die hard. To cater to our narcissistic needs, businesses are now going to extraordinary measures. Management teams are seeking aid from psychologists and specialty employee-retention consultants, who advise doling out constant reminders of “a job well done” to employees.

It’s easy to pick out the day-to-day need for constant praise among my colleagues and friends, even at the college level. In my own experience managing people, I’ve always tried my best to let people know when they do an exemplary job. But I’ve also been unpleasantly surprised with an individual’s expectations for compliments, even after they’ve failed to complete their work properly.

What I didn’t realize is how much these attitudes have affected the modern workplace, and it’s pretty interesting stuff, albeit somewhat embarrassing and pathetic. But hey, I guess it’s good news for those of us who can still get through the day without a barrage of mundane kudos from our peers.

An… uplifting fortune

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Hey, look what I got! Every almost-college-graduate should find one of these semi-inspiring little messages in a fortune cookie… the world would be a slightly better place. I’ve gone ahead and added it to the huge collage of fortunes that surround my computer monitor in the newspaper office.

Thanks Holy Wong! Almost better than free crab rangoons.

College memes

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In the wake of a booming DIY meme trend, our professor has asked us to create three of our own which relate to our blog beat in some way. Here are three quick creations of my own (please forgive the comically cynical nature of the ladder two). Enjoy!

I love college...

I don't always apply for jobs...

Hopelessly unemployed...

Hilarious lampoon article: Check

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So instead of vigilantly updating my blog with useful information, I have been making ridiculous photo illustrations and writing pop-culture satire. But in doing so I have managed to cross off another item in my bucket list.

For those of you who aren’t personally acquainted with myself or the SUNY Fredonia campus, our campus newspaper The Leader dedicates a couple pages to satire and humorous visuals each week. I’ve been meaning to contribute to the “Lampoon” for some time now, and have finally done so after witnessing the thoroughly confused twitter responses to Bon Iver’s multiple Grammy wins the other week.

Anyways, I hope you think I’m at least a little funny. Here’s the article and accompanying illustration (click the photo to make it bigger):

The SUNY Fredonia Leader