I can’t believe it’s almost over. I am less than four weeks away from being a graduate of Cal State Northridge and I am the happiest boy on Earth. And while everything is progressing quite nicely for me at this point, I still wish someone had given me the following pointers on how to survive at CSUN when I started in Fall 2002. These tips are the only way for freshmen to enjoy their 10-year stay at CSUN.
1) If your financial aid can handle it, live on campus. Living in one of the residence halls produces a real college atmosphere. Food from Geronimo’s in the Satellite Student Union, “Trashy Tuesdays” in Building 15 and spontaneous parking lot gatherings all make you feel like you’re at a real college.
2) Grab 10 friends, create a student club or organization, and ask Associated Students for thousands of dollars to fund your group, called CSUN Students Against Students Against War or something. Believe me, they’ll fund it. Then, proceed to use those travel funds to “go to a conference” in Tijuana and learn the dynamic intrapersonal relationship between drinking alcohol and not being sober. It is really quite something.
3) Take more writing classes than are necessary. At CSUN, professors love students who can put sentences together. You can be an idiot, but as long as you can form coherent thoughts on paper, professors will be astounded and pass you out of shear confusion. Take it from me: I am a great big idiot with a high GPA.
4) Make it a point to get academic advising every semester. After hearing all that your fellow student “advises” you to take, ignore every word he or she says, plot your own future out on Microsoft Excel, and envision the ever-distant graduation. My academic adviser readily admits he is more of a determiner of “wiggle room” than any actual long-term planning. Booyah to bureaucracy.
5) Take three-hour classes on Friday afternoons. Your professor will undoubtedly cancel class or stop short 60 percent of the time.
6) Don’t switch majors too many times. During the Great American Job Hunt that I’m currently undertaking, I’ve come to realize that what a person’s degree is in means nothing. If you want to be an anthropology major and have internship experience at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino and at a sperm bank, you can probably still manage to land an entry-level job as a developer at Adidas footwear.
7) In the same way you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery while under the influence of a substance, do not ever try to log on to the CSUN Web Portal. I can’t even think of an analogy that adequately describes how confusing it is. Instead, periodically send the university checks for $200. Once CSUN starts sending checks in return, with the note “credit” on it, you know you can stop.
8) Pick up every piece of paperwork in your department’s main office and spend entire weekends toiling over those goofy graduation road maps. You need to think of the bureaucracy of CSUN as a speed bump, not an insurmountable roadblock.
9) Minimize in-class discussion time (i.e. ditch class more frequently). If there isn’t a note on the syllabus that gives a maximum number of times a student can ditch before losing credit, take one class session each week for personal preparedness.
10) Never, ever take a class at Pierce College. A person should actually lose academic credits if it is found out that he or she took classes there.
11) Always, and I mean always, read the Daily Sundial.
Ryan Denham can be reached at email@example.com.