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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton: a user’s guide

<ir="ltr">Alright, I’m almost out of here.  I can’t believe it.  I know I sound like an advert but it feels like there was so little time between where I am now and that freshman orientation, that first Dixon party, that kiss on Bell Field.  Excuse me while I drown in nostalgia.  This article is about lessons, and to paraphrase Childish Gambino it’s about lessons I learned.  I’m not saying they’re true or not, I’m just saying they are what I have learned.  You’ll be in my place soon enough so take some time to reflect on what this old, washed-up senior has to say while I try not to freak out about the impending arrival of the real world.


Work Hard, Be Nice to People

    You’ve got opinions.  We all do.  I’m sure you’re ready to argue and throw shade and write nasty comments online in defense of those opinions, but listen to me for a second.  Chill bro.  This is a small campus, and if you act like a jerk while defending an opinion, even if that opinion turns out to be the most logical, factual, just perspective on the planet, you’re not going to wind up happy.  Let people have their opinions and spend your time translating yours into action.  You feel like your sports team isn’t inclusive?  Host a social and saunter up to the kid in the corner with a drink and a smile.  They’ll thank you for it.  Don’t agree with someone’s politics?  Make sure they know you want to be friends before you challenge them or call them out.  There’s not a lot that can’t be solved with a few laughs and a few beers.  Want to make sure the college divests from fossil fuels?  Good luck buddy, you need that drink more than I do.


Do the Thing

    Just go out there and give it a shot.  Carleton traditions are there for a reason, and even if it sounds stupid I assure you that you’ll have more fun out there throwing yourself down a hill on a tray than you will inside the library.  You’ve got work to do, and I get that.  Studying hard is important (especially here) but you only get to go to a “quirky” liberal arts college once.  Make the most of all the weirdness this place has to offer.  If you don’t like it, people will very rarely blame you for retreating to your warm study room to finish that philosophy reading.


FOMO is in your Head

    This contradicts what I said before a little, but don’t worry about spending a quiet Friday night in. I know you can hear that loud party across the way and you’re worried about all of the fun people are having, but stumbling home after a party that wasn’t that great feeling insecure is a lot worse than snuggling up with some Netflix in bed.  Sometimes your social brain needs a rest, and a good book is great for that.  Set some time apart for yourself on the weekends to just be you.


Go to Office Hours

    Don’t be afraid of your professors, dude.  They’re pretty nice people about 95% of the time, and you can learn a lot from just stopping in to chat with them.  They’ll appreciate the conversation (unless they have a huge line out the door) and you can probably get some insight into how they’ll be grading that next paper.  Maybe they’ll just drop some general knowledge on you.  This applies to teaching assistants, prefects, student departmental advisors, faculty advisors, and most other advisors as well.


Be Careful in Romance

    Carleton is a small pool with a lot of fish.  We’re all going to throw our lines out a couple of times.  But before you throw a hook at that person you’ve been eyeing at the party, just know that hooking up with someone really does permanently change your relationship with that person.  It’s not like you’re required by law to put your head down whenever you walk past them, or like you have to act super awkward, but things will change.  Be aware of that.  Also, for the love of all that is passive-aggressive, be careful about break-ups.  You only get a few friend groups here and a bad split can wreck your social life like nothing else.  You don’t want to deal with all that baggage, trust me.  Be nice and watch your words if you and your significant other are going south.  You don’t want to say anything you’ll regret later, as real as it may feel at the time.


Go for Walks

    There are SO many good places to go for walks around campus.  Find a friend and go get lost in the arboretum or down in town by the river.  There aren’t many things I like better on a cool fall evening or a warm summer night than finding a spot I’ve never found before.  It’s a great way to relieve stress and center yourself.  Another great activity is going alone into the arb and finding a rock, stump, or bench to sit on for a while.  We spend a lot of time rushing around here and it’s pretty essential to just take some time and listen to the world.


So that’s it.  I wish I’d known those six things when I got to Carleton.  There are a lot of lessons I’m almost certainly forgetting, but I’m writing this quickly and I’ve got homework to finish.  Who am I kidding, I’m going to go for a walk.

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