Dear Freshmen: Anti-Advice from a Recent Graduate
by Kenneth Rosen (guest author) | Savannah College of Art and Design
In May when I took tenure as Editor-in-Chief of my school’s online-only news source, I pitched the idea of a Back-to-School print edition … you know, ’cause print ain’t dead. We created a production schedule months before the local paper (whom I freelanced for) approached me to write an advice column for the incoming freshmen for them. Conflict of interest? No. Internal struggle? Most definitely.
Why? Why me? What was it that I could say after four years in college, on the verge of graduating with a liberal arts degree, impart unto the freshmen who’d follow in my footsteps? Nothing of any consequence, I can assure you, but I set myself to task.
Alright you freshmen, I thought, here’s what you’ve got to know: and when I began with that I realized that’s where the train of thought came to a halt. I knew nothing. The question returned. Why me? I’m studying writing to end up limiting myself to 150 characters or using the phrase “would you like fries with that?” and I’m about to step on a soapbox. I couldn’t so much as get a night’s rest let alone put to sleep the worries and fears of people I’ve never met.
In the abstract, what was it that I’d tell myself years later? Where in the four years of schooling did I, how do you say, find myself? Have I? Haven’t I? Well what was it all for if I hadn’t? Doesn’t matter, just write it. OK. Well, if I knew what I know now … aren’t those lyrics? Delete. There comes a time … delete. Forget it, I’m going out.
So I went to my haunt to sit and think, deflecting any attempt someone made to have a conversation. I was on deadline, didn’t they know? You cretin, can’t you see I’m drinking here? I’m an artist trying to craft words so you can understand. It turned out I was the one who misunderstood.
For all the schools in the world and the students within them: we know nothing. Not that we haven’t learned, but we refuse to further that learning. Four years and a degree are nowhere for any twenty-something to end their search for meaning or understanding. Like an unbaked loaf of bread we will remain the same without the perpetual search for knowledge, stale and dry. Had I engaged any one of the patrons at the bar I would have understood what I was missing.
Maybe I realized the guide was more for my fellow classmates soon to graduate. There’s nothing you can warn an excited teen about during their first few years, we get it, especially coming from a jaded upperclassman. Their experience will stand on its own and one day they’ll struggle with the words that define their best years.
I clicked ‘Save.’ I was onto something …