Cliches for the College Masses
Justin Bieber knows more than one may think
If you’re like me, you’ve spent much of your college career clocking hours in class or in the library, learning about everything from media theory to the formula for compounding interest. This kind of learning is what brought us all to Charlottesville in the first place, and it’s this kind of learning that will keep this institution running long after we’ve all worn the honor of honors.
Yet, as you quickly realize in your first weekend at the University, there’s more to college than academics. It’s cliché, but I’ve found it to be true. And it’s not the only cliché I’ve found to be true in college — some of the most important lessons I’ve learned won’t be heard in a lecture or found in a book. Instead, they’re contained in the pithy phrases we often throw around without much thought.
“Never say never”
Obviously, if Justin Bieber says it, it has to be true. Still, even more concrete evidence than a pop star’s endorsement is my experience with the college admissions process. As a high school student, I wanted to attend one school and one school only — the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My Dad, a U.Va. and UNC alumnus, astutely realized this interest was based more on my love of the basketball team than anything else. As a result — and I believe partly as an excuse to relive his college days — he took me and my friends on more college tours than I can count, showing us there were other options under that vast Carolina-blue sky.
At the time, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with U.Va. Who wants to go to the same school as half their high school? Does anyone actually look good in orange?
Even though it was one of the coldest and grayest days in January, after the information session in the dome room of the Rotunda, a tour lead by a very attractive fourth-year and lunch on the Corner, I never looked back — eventually declining the opportunity to wear Carolina blue. So take it from me — or from Justin, if you prefer — and never say never.
“Actions speak louder than words”
Here’s the thing — words mean nothing without follow-through. Actions show someone’s true character. Apologies and empty promises are made all too easily. There are people in this world who know exactly what to say to make you feel like you have everything you want. Even when they let you down yet again, they know how to seem genuine in their apologies. But I’ve learned people don’t change in the span of a few short months, and you can’t make them change either.
So when someone isn’t treating you the way you know you deserve to be treated, you should walk away. No matter what they say to you, their actions indicate the reality of the situation. You shouldn’t be wasting your time waiting on empty promises or text messages that never come.
“It’s who you know”
This summer in New York City, my roommate and I were shameless about networking. I’d go to an event and make it a game: collect five business cards, talk to three new people or find a University graduate in the crowd. We both realized we were more likely to obtain full-time employment through someone we knew rather than simply sending our resumes out into the black hole that is the Internet.
Somewhere along the way, I realized networking isn’t all that different from joining clubs, Greek organizations or societies back on Grounds. In college, first-years scramble to name brothers to get into fraternity houses on Friday nights. As upperclassmen, those first-year connections provide important access to Sunday brunch at the dining hall.
And the more people you’re able to meet through these opportunities, the more weak ties you have access to. And through my classes — where it really is all about what you know — I’ve learned weak ties, not strong ones, provide you with more social capital, like jobs or a date for next Friday.
But the good thing about realizing the strength of who you know is when you are a student at the University, most alumni, professors and students really do want to help you out. Even though daily life might get in the way, it’s important to keep up with your old friends and professors, or reach out to someone at a company or in a field you’re interested in — you never know where it may lead you.
Katie’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.