Every year we like to say hi to the incoming freshman class at Syracuse University, introduce ourselves and impart something akin to wisdom. Previous versions come from 2007, 2009 and 2011 as well as this slightly-outdated guide to the pizza slices of Syracuse.
"Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth." - Mary Schmich
Dear Syracuse Freshman,
Normally, this is where I share my advice on where you should eat on campus and how you should go about getting great seats in the Carrier Dome but the truth is, to quote your Dad's favorite action movie, I'm getting too old for this s**t. At 34, I'm officially too far away from my heyday to really know most of that stuff. You can peruse those links above and I'm sure people will leave plenty of tips in the comments for you. Of course, you could always just go find out for yourself too, Mr. and Mrs. Adult.
What I can do is impart something that resembles advice, though my first piece of advice would be to heed that quote up top there. You're going to get a lot of advice in the coming weeks. Hell, you've probably been drowning in advice all summer long, not to mention the days leading up to your arrival at SU.
Promise me you will always, always, always remember that advice comes with strings attached. And with advice, oftentimes, comes the attachment of fear. There are a lot of people in your life that want what's best for you, but that's not necessarily the same as wanting you to get what you really want.
In my experience, that's kind of the downside of the education system in America. We spent the first half of our student lives being told that we can be anything we want. We spend the second half being told that, not only can you NOT be anything you want, but you need to decide RIGHT NOW what you want to be for the rest of your life or you are doomed, Doomed, DOOOOOOOOOMED.
You probably haven't even finished unpacking your bags and stacking those crates from Bed, Bath & Beyond that you'll throw in the trash come June and someone has already asked you what your major is. If I remember correctly you were even asked what you wanted to major in before you even got there. In the coming weeks that decision will be shoved in your face and it's only going to get louder as the year rolls on. It's going to get like if you don't decided what you're going to be by the time your second semester is over, you're going to be "behind."
(Of course, if you know in your heart of hearts that you want to be a lawyer or an accountant or an engineer, whatever they do, by all means, go for it. This is for the 90% that don't.)
As much as possible and as much as you feel comfortable, take your time. People will tell you how important these decisions are but it's nonsense. Like I said, I'm 34. I just did a quick inventory of ten people my age that I know who went to college and now work in various industries. Do you know how many of them are still doing what they majored in during college? Two. And that's a loose two. More like one and a half.
It's not that a major isn't important. It's just my biased advice that you not worry about it as much as others will want you to. Instead, branch out. Take a writing class. Take a class from RoboCop. Take that philosophy class where you watch Star Trek episodes. Hell, take a class all about Star Trek!
Personally, the classes I remember more than anything from SU were the "dinner party classes." Classes like Art History and Intro to Philosophy, where I learned interesting nuggets of information that would serve me well at dinner parties...if I ever attended a dinner party.
All those marketing classes I took for my major? Couldn't tell you anything about them. I think there was something about the 4 Ps or Qs or Cs or something like that. Worked in marketing/PR for eight years, never used any of it.
The dirty, little secret of the working career ahead of you (the knowledge of which you should obscure from your brain for as long as humanly possible) is that a little bit of work experience > four-year college degree. There is no committee waiting for you in Manhattan that wants to throw you a parade for graduating college with a major in Finance. It ain't that special (just ask the Class of '12 about it). So instead of worrying about the end-game, enjoy the game.
P.S. - You can't minor in the Daily Orange crossword puzzle, but by sophomore year it will seem like you have.