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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Welcome, freshmen”

    Justyn DillinghamEditor-in-Chief
    Justyn Dillingham

    So you’ve made it at last.

    No matter how you got here – whether you popped over here right after high school or spent a couple years building up credits at a community college, whether you hail from Tucson or Reykjavik, whether you’re a Wildcats fan or don’t know a football from a pigeon – the important thing is that you made it. That’s no small accomplishment.

    I’ll never forget my first day of classes. After a couple of years at Pima Community College, the UA, with its gorgeous old buildings and long stretches of grass, looked about as serene and inviting as anything I’d ever seen. It was an inspiring sight. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by people who wanted to learn

    Well, all right, I also noticed an unsettling number of Paris Hilton look-alikes, sporting freshly bleached hair and oversized sunglasses. That unpleasant trend, fortunately, seems to have eased up since then.

    You’ve made a dramatic leap. You’ve just gone from the world of high school to the academic world. This is where careers are made. This is where your old life ends and a new one begins. This is where you get to find out what it is you want to do with your life.

    I can hear some of you saying “”But I talked to a career counselor in high school … .”” Forget it. Those counselors are there to prod you toward a sensible office job and smile discouragingly when you say something like “”I want to be a writer.””

    The counselors here are a lot more helpful, but they still can’t make up your mind for you. It’s up to you to decide what to do with these four years.

    Don’t worry if you can’t make up your mind right away. That’s why they offer a few dozen subjects, after all. If you don’t like your major, pick a different one. And if you aren’t satisfied with just one, add a few more.

    Puzzled? You should be: You’ve just entered the academic world. You are, at least in theory, among people who are here because they want to be, not because they have to be. This makes a big difference. Here, learning, not “”job training,”” is the point. I know I’ve just said that this is where you decide what you want to do with your life. But you can’t make a real decision until you’ve learned something about the real world – which is something you definitely won’t learn much about in high school.

    This may not be obvious at first. You’re probably going to have to sit through some dull first-semester classes. You’ll probably be sitting with 18-year-olds who still think they’re in high school. The waters might be pretty rough for a while.

    But gradually you’ll settle into your new life. And you’ll see that, all things considered, this might well turn out to be the best experience you’ll ever have.

    Yes, there’s partying, drinking and other things I probably don’t need to mention here. You know, the sort of things most people think of when we think “”college.””

    Surprising as it may seem, this stuff is not the point of college. You could experience all that stuff without paying through the nose to sit in small, stuffy, unheated rooms all week. Enjoy it, but don’t forget what it is you’re paying through the nose for.

    For that matter, you don’t even have to go to college to learn. Benjamin Franklin never went to college, and it didn’t do him any harm. College is simply an excuse to learn.

    Think about it. If you weren’t going to college, you’d be doing something else, and because we live in a society of work-obsessed overachievers, you’d probably end up putting learning on the backburner. That’s what college is really for – to make sure you don’t forget to learn.

    At least, that’s the way I like to look at it. Otherwise, I’d have to face up to the harsh reality that all this money is essentially paying for a piece of paper.

    One last piece of advice: If you haven’t slept in two days and you’re dreading the prospect of that 8 a.m. physics class, pick up a copy of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. That’s what we’re here for, after all – giving you a reason not to fall asleep in class.

    Justyn Dillingham is the editor-in-chief of the Arizona Summer Wildcat and is a junior majoring in political science and history. He can be reached at

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