What I Didn’t Know Then

This is an article that I wrote for my college paper… and it’s something that every graphic design student should read. ECF-CGD 2013

bluto-collegeIf I were granted three wishes, one of them would be to go back in time and have lunch with myself as a 18 year old from 1987. (Yes, I’m that old!) I would like to give me/him advice from everything I’ve learned in the past 26 six years. I would tell me/him to watch less TV, exercise more. Instead of reading on the couch, read on the stationary bike. Go to college, study what you love (graphic design and professional writing,) and stay away from women named “Sherry,” “Mary,” and “Mya.” Oh… and here is the address of a beautiful woman in New Jersey. She loves to ride horses so you better learn to ride. Finally, here’s the address of the most important buildings of your life, it’s in Gardner, Massachusetts.

Since I can’t talk to myself from 1987, I’ll share this with you – the five things I wish I knew when I first started as a student so many (many, many, many!) years ago.

Number One – Find out which of your first semester books will help you for the rest of your career and don’t let go of them. Perfect example for me for my graphic design curriculum was “Graphic Design Solutions,” by Robin Landa. We only needed this book for a couple of chapters for our first course – CGD 101 – but there are more chapters in the book that were necessary for the rest of our courses like typography. It wasn’t until later that I realized that this book could have really helped me through a couple of other courses, too. I write this paragraph with gnashing teeth and a clenched jaw… be careful with what books you return to the bookstore. In fact, return NONE of them. Keep them long after you’ve retired from whatever you’re studying to become, you’ll need them long after you’ve slipped the mortal coil of being a MWCC student.

There are some books that are worth more than their weight in gold! (Oh, and I’m not kidding about doing your reading on a stationary bike or treadmill… there’s something about getting the blood flowing that helps you remember.)

Number Two – Brace yourself; you are going to find out facts about the people in your life and a lot of it is going to be really ugly. I said something similar to my wife after her aunt died; hang on because with a change like this there are bound to be things coming out of background that’s not going to be pretty. I wish I was wrong. All the petty jealousies people have harbored against you secretly will come out in the open; all the animosities that were boiling under the surface are now exposed and festering like open emotional wounds.

For some people, the fact that you are going to college is going to seem like a death or suicide to some people – you’re “killing” the loser they thought you were. There are people that you’re counting on now to help you now will abandon you in the very near future based purely on envy; since you’re doing this (getting a higher education) why can’t they? Because they didn’t have it in them in the past or don’t have it now there will be some members of your inner circle who will try to undermine your success. There are a few people in your own circle of family and friends that want to suck you back down to their level when you find out who they are, cut them out of your life for as long as you are in college and when you begin your new career after you graduate.

This is OK because…

Number Three – Prepare to have your heart stolen by your fellow class mates in your curriculum. I can rattle off the 10 most important people in my life, and only three of them are in my own family (my wife and my two sons) everyone else who is important to me now have something in common: Mount Wachusett Community College. That’s teachers, staff members, and other students. Your fellow students are not your rivals; they are your allies and will soon become your closest friends.

Number Four – Budget your time and money. Don’t procrastinate! Don’t wait till the night before to do homework because – and I can tell you this from experience – you never do your best work under pressure. When you’re crunched for time you take stupid shortcuts which will cost you in the end.

This is the time to be selfish. The only thing that’s important in your life is you! Some other family members are going to have to help with the other day-to-day chores, period. Alas, I’ve had to bribe my sons with an in ground swimming pool that I’ll by when I get a steady job after MWCC; but you should see those little gremlins work now! Find new and exciting ways to motivate your kids and other family members.

(Also, playing Hanson’s “Mmmm Bop” over and over and over again will get them into high gear… after the fourth and fifteenth round they had the dishes done, the house vacuumed, the dog groomed and their toys put away. I don’t care if this is against the Geneva Convention – IT WORKS!)

Number Four B – Pain and exhaustion are temporary, the pain of failure and regret lasts a life time. Sacrifice a little now or you’ll be kicking yourself for the rest of your life. Do your homework as soon as it’s assigned. You don’t have all time in the world! Things happen when you least expect them. Early bird gets the worm; early student gets the best grades!

Number Five – Savor your time. Believe it or not, your time at MWCC will come to an end. It seems like May of next year or the year after that are a place far, far away… but when you get on this rollercoaster called College, it’ll be over too soon.

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