It’s Here for the Taking

“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It can be argued that college is nothing more than an opportunity. Enrolling at a college does not guarantee success. Admission into a college guarantees nothing more than a reserved seat in five classes a semester. It elicits a chance to listen to the ideals and teachings of professors who have become experts in a field of study. A college may offer programs or extracurricular activities that facilitate in preparing you for work in the real world in your chosen field of study. Varied and diverse people may attend the school, offering an insight into different cultures. A college can offer you all the elements needed to have a fulfilling and successful life, but these elements are nothing more than a bullet point on a pamphlet in the admissions office until those opportunities are seized by willing students. Opportunities on campus at any college are limitless, but opportunities are nothing when they fall into complacent hands. I may be nothing more than a mere freshman, but already I have seen the limitless amounts of opportunities that are present in college.

Academics. This is where the first opportunity of college presents itself. The grades that people have received through their entire academic career no longer matter. Whatever college someone may be attending does not worry about past academic failures and successes. Bygones will be bygones; a clean slate is created. As a freshman, I am entitled to a new beginning. I have the opportunity to either relish this opportunity and strive for excellence, or I can just continue putting minimal effort into my school work. The opportunity to begin college with a strong academic record is present. I am given the chance to listen and actually learn from faculty members who have made it their job to make myself a more intelligent individual. Some people grasp the opportunity, but others, as it has become apparent already, tend to inculcate themselves with the idea that they are too busy or that they are just too “cool” for all of the extra activities. It is of human nature that we rationalize all of our decisions; we can convince ourselves that sometimes the wrong decision is the right one.

Extracurricular activities. This is a topic that can make me quite angry. Most colleges offer an absurd number of clubs and activities that students are welcomed and encouraged to become involved in. Many of the clubs and activities offered can also be important  in preparing students for their chosen career paths. A strong resume after college will need to consist of numerous clubs so that it becomes possible to set oneself apart from other students that will be searching for jobs directly after graduation. I’m certainly not attempting to persuade anybody to join a club that they are not interested in, but if it can be done without interfering with school work, then every effort should be made to do so. Connections can be made, friendships can grow and opportunities will arise.

Opportunities do not only present themselves in academic situations. Opportunities on college campuses happen at any time of the day and at any location. They are infinite. Some are harmful; the opportunity to drink alcohol or take part in any type of destructive behavior. Others, however, are beneficial;  the opportunity to meet someone new, hold the door for someone which can spark a conversation and maybe even being able to fall in love.

It can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult to understand how each opportunity that presents itself can have a dramatic impact a person’s life. Each action has a series of implications that may be insignificant or of dire importance. It can change the course of someone’s life or just be another moment of unimportance. Each moment is fleeting and so are the opportunities that accompany them.

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” – Benjamin Franklin




Parents Weekend

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.” – Rodney Dangerfield

Welcome Mom and Dad!!!

So I am glad that we have made it to this point in the semester. It may have been rough, it may have been arduous and most likely you are beginning to question your own sanity. Unbelievably lengthy nights of homework until the wee hours of the morning, caffeine highs from that extra-large, burnt-tasting coffee from the overpriced cafeteria. Oh yeah, and of course those nights that you get barely an hour or two of sleep.

Come on though, those days are behind us now. Its time to let the past be the past and turn your focus toward the future. Anyway, is the past that important anyway? (Don’t you dare say anything you history people out there) Now it’s time to start turn your focus toward the not-so-distant arrival of your parents.

So now that you have been at school for nearly two months, although it could possibly be a little more or a little less, things are much different than they were when Ma and Pa dropped you off at school. You are college kid now. Oh yeah, you are. Eating Ramen Noodles, sitting around in your dorm room and sitting in public with that new MacBook Pro typing away. We are part of a new crowd, we are college kids now.

When your parents are getting ready to infiltrate your dorm room, it comes down to making sure that you do some solid prep work. It becomes important that you make sure that it comes across to not only your parents, but also your roommates parents, that you are not a filthy slob. Grab the Windex, maybe a little Lysol and bring the garbage can over to the corner of your room. If you are not in the mood to do laundry, maybe you can just Febreeze the smell away, after all, it is the thought that counts.

Alright, well now that you have a clean room, it is inevitable that you have to start placing things in your room to start making it look like you are doing everything your parents are expecting you to be doing. For some, this may entail putting some things away into a place that cannot be seen by all who enter the room. For those that this does not apply to, it then means that you should begin to carefully place objects throughout your personal space to present the idea that you are being exceedingly studious. An open textbook in the middle of your desk with an open highlighter can go a long way. For those of us who are feeling extra inclined to pull off the deception can even toss an open dictionary on the desk; make sure you highlight the most ridiculously complex word on the page.

Once you have prepared your room, it becomes of dire importance that you talk to your group of friends. Let them know that your parents are coming. I mean, just give them a little heads up so that they might consider acting and behaving in a somewhat normal manner. I’m not expecting everyone to put on their shirt and tie with their nicest pair of shoes and dark-black dress pants, but it is going to be quite an awkward situation if someone’s parent walks in and no one is ready for it. It is best to give at least a little bit of a heads up.

Alright, so now you are completely ready for your parents to come visit for the weekend. You definitely are not in the clear yet, however.

Once your parents arrive at your school, the real entertainment is about to begin. Once your parents get here, it becomes the difficult and sometimes daunting task of ensuring that your parents do not embarrass you too badly, but in some respects, that is their job. While meeting your new friends, one must try to make it the least awkward experience that it can possibly be. It has been apparent thus far that whenever a parent enters a dorm room, the vibe throughout the room suddenly begins to change. There is an awkwardness that hangs in the air. I’m pretty sure I could actually taste the awkwardness once. (yeah, it was that bad) When a parent walks in, all normal activity ceases to occur and everyone is normally just holding their breath until the parent or parents leave. Due to this, it is often quite important that meetings between friends and parents are quick, simple and over within a matter of minutes.

After the awkward encounter between parents and friends are terminated,you can go about the rest of parent weekend with relative ease. It will be relieving to be with your parents and being able to relax. It will be a momentary reprieve from the normal day-to-day stress that college can become. It allows you to talk and catch up with the people who you have spent the majority of your life with. In all honesty, it is a truly remarkable and overrated time of the semester. It offers you and your parents a way to bond at the place where you, their child, will be spending the better part of your next four years. Through events during the weekend, your parents are able to become engulfed in the culture and values of the university. It unites parents, students and a University.

So go ahead, welcome parents weekend with open arms. Do not look at it with trepidation and anxiety. Everything will go well. Good preparation goes a long way, and yeah, these are your parents anyway, and I am quite positive that they will take you as you are anyway.

Feel free to leave feedback for me as well as comments!


Andy Landolfi