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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    College life: Road to success or excess?

    Andrew McGheecolumnist
    Andrew McGhee

    The question I most often hear incoming freshmen ask is whether or not the course load is indeed as cumbersome as parents and high school teachers make it out to be. My parents, for instance, told me there was no room for scholastic mistakes.

    “”These are the big leagues, son, and if you screw up and get dropped back to the minors, we’re no longer going to be there to coach you.”” Baseball analogies aside, I’ve found that the college environment does allow for some “”messing around,”” as my father puts it.

    As far as quantity of work and degree of difficulty are concerned, the academic aspects of college differ very little from those of high school; the most significant challenge is in acquiring the impetus to attend class and do the assignments.

    The poet William Blake once asserted that “”the road of excess leads to a palace of wisdom,”” but this is only true for someone who considers a frat house to be a palace. If one considers the university to be the palace of wisdom, though, then one only gets to it by following the road of moderation.

    The greatest obstacles to scholastic success in college are the social distractions. For incoming freshmen, these distractions typically manifest in the form of roommates with fake IDs and dorm rooms filled with attractive classmates. For the older-than-21 crowd, the university has numerous unaffiliated “”satellite campuses”” around town that have been cleverly disguised as bars. Both milieus are suffused with liquor and libido, the college student’s equivalent of kryptonite.

    The assiduous, idealistic young freshman is swayed by a collegiate bad boy into indulging in pot, booze, coke and perhaps even ‘ludes.

    One of my friends, for example, fell victim to both the night before a test – I would say he failed, but failing implies that he actually showed up and took the test, rather than sleeping through it and enduring a headache when he finally came to around 2 p.m.

    Sex, drugs and alcohol aren’t the only things that hamper academic achievement, however, as romance can also rob students of the time they need to study and attend class. Yet another friend of mine met “”the one”” in an English class and found it prudent to forgo lectures in favor of romantic excursions to local attractions like the botanical gardens.

    Cuteness aside, had he forbidden himself from allowing his brain chemicals to conflict with his common sense, he would’ve realized that she wasn’t the one, but rather half of two – she had a boyfriend back home – which made him feel both dumb and devastated when they both failed the classes they didn’t attend. Ain’t love grand?

    It sounds horrible and misanthropic, but the social aspects of college are usually the things designed to throw students off their track.

    It’s an old plot device for college movies, in fact: The assiduous, idealistic young freshman is swayed by a collegiate bad boy into indulging in pot, booze, coke and perhaps even ‘ludes.

    All of this then causes him to bomb out of school and precipitates his eventual suicide in a dumpy motel room 20 miles outside Mesa’s city limits.

    Actually, college films never end that way; life is rarely that dismal, yet it’s rarely as serendipitous as the endings of those films would have one believe, too.

    In other words, it’s incredibly difficult to fix certain mistakes (particularly academic ones), meaning that one has to carefully consider the social decisions he or she makes. After all, is a bitchin’ semester full of partying really worth getting an E in English 101?

    Andrew McGhee is a sophmore majoring in physics. He can be reached at

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