The end of August is a time of intense heat, humidity and mosquitoes. But for many people this last stretch of summer holds an even more ominous undertone.
Lurking on the horizon are the three words everyone has dreaded since the first September they learned the alphabet song, the nutritional value of crayons and the joy of snack time – back to school.
It grows worse every year. We long for the days when finger painting was a major subject and the most anyone expected of you was earning a gold star.
However, now that those days are over, most people cringe at the thought of going back to school. They cling to August’s end like the dying rays of the sun in an ever-earlier sunset, heralding the oncoming winter.
But not us. Why? Because for us, back to school means back to college, and as we all know, college is very different from any other school experience.
We all remember high school – the 6 a.m. wake up call, the pointless classes, the curfews, the college applications and of course, the endless melodrama.
All right, maybe we’ll never be rid of the melodrama, but nonetheless, the return to college can be a joyous time, whereas high school only held sorrow.
How so? Well there is the obvious. You get to schedule your classes so you can sleep until 3:30 p.m. whenever you want and there won’t be any phone calls home if you’re still in bed by 4 p.m.
Also, there is the distinct possibility that the classes you’ve signed yourself up for may actually be interesting, as you, the responsible college student, have committed yourself to learning the foundations and nuances of a vocation.
Then there is life in the residence halls. Of course we all love and cherish our parents, but sometimes they are so much easier to love and cherish from afar.
With limited parental interaction, those authority figures will be happier to see you when you go home. That means they will not waste their time telling you to clean your room, be back by midnight, drink nothing stronger than a wine spritzer or wear clothes at all times around members of the opposite sex.
They also may feel the need to remind you of their love in monetary form.
In the mean time, you will be living with your friends, without the effort of riding your bike or finding a ride to their house. You will be constantly surrounded by kindred spirits who will commiserate with you the night before your term paper is due, introduce you to the wonders of 2 a.m. take out and forgo their own studying to watch “Press Your Luck” on the Game Show Network the night before finals.
You may still be bored, but at least now you have company.
You learn what foods are microwaveable and which have a risk of explosion.
You learn how to type 60 words a minute when you talk to five people online while simultaneously writing a research paper.
You learn exactly how loose the term “research” can be.
You get to have snowball fights, and finger paint is optional.
College is a great time. You get to live away from home without paying for the bulk of it. You get to stay up and watch the Late Late Show when the rest of the world has to get up for its morning commute.
You get to eat pizza whenever you want before your metabolism gives out and you start shopping at the health food store with your mother. Low-fat soy substitute, yum.
You feel like an adult, so that when you really are grown up you are prepared. You had fun getting there, but always knew that home was waiting for you if you ever needed a break.
Now all you have to do is remember your shower shoes and your bathroom code. It’s better than those damn locker combinations.