My first year of college was 1972. I was considerably less than prepared for this new experience. I joined a fraternity primarily on the basis that it had a beer machine in the house. It was an old Coke machine that had been converted by an enterprising engineering student to dispense bottles of cold Coors for 25 cents each. Beer for breakfast is not a great way to start your scholarly endeavors. Classes started in late August but it was closer to October for me. I had chosen some friends who assured me it wasn’t really necessary to go to class. They neglected to mention that I, at least, needed to read the books. By the time I started attending classes it was a little too late. My GPA at the end of the first semester was 1.3 on a 4.0 scale. Cockroaches make better grades. Of course they don’t drink that much. I think freshmen grades should be an average of GPA and BAC. Second semester was much better because I actually went to class and my GPA improved to 2.9.
Besides drinking too much that first semester, college girls were my undoing. I had never been in an environment where so many girls called me for a date. They weren’t the least bit shy about it either. I had one girl who always called after midnight to see if I wanted to go out. Nothing good happens after midnight but I never turned her down. Sleeping was just something to do when nothing better was going on. The other amazing part of college life is that nobody seemed to care who you had previously dated. I went through almost an entire sorority pledge class and none of them said anything. Of course these girls drank almost as much as I did so maybe they couldn’t remember anything either. The endless variety of girls in college is just too tempting for the average 18 year old male to resist. I met girls from western Kansas who brought their horses to school with them. I met girls from places I had never heard of but wanted to visit just to see if there were any more like them there. I think this experience was actually very educational but not academic in any way. I did learn a lot about women, not that it really helped.
By the spring semester I had found my way and actually got an A in my U.S. History class. The teacher was a younger woman and we hit it off right away. I think she liked me a little too much because she gave me an A for the semester and told me I didn’t even have to take the final exam. No one else in class could believe this and I think they suspected me of doing favors for her. I still don’t know what she was thinking and she never did anything inappropriate but it sure looked that way to everybody else. Just the fact that I had gotten an A was enough to encourage me to try even harder from then on. For that I will always be grateful to her, it was something I really needed.
College actually became a great experience after that as I began to learn a lot and enjoyed most of my classes. Drinking became a weekend only event and attending class was an every day occurence. I moved out of the fraternity house during my junior year and that was a much needed transition. I even went to the library on campus to study. I used to hide out way back in the oldest part where nobody ever went, just to have privacy and get my work done faster. The college experience is mostly about finding a way to make all the various priorities come together in some workable fashion and to avoid the losers who only want to party.
I think Mark Twain might have been talking about college when he wrote this line. College students come in all styles and some of them are much closer to going to Hell than they realize. I was, for that whole first semester. Temptation is an overpowering sensation, especially to the young mind. The “no rules, do whatever you want” atmosphere is incredibly difficult to adjust to and many kids fail completely. I was lucky enough to survive that initial baptism of fire and I came out reasonably unscathed. I’d like to think it was divine providence and God looking out for me because he had bigger things planned for me later in life. That might be why I write. I came close to the edge of the abyss and he pulled me back just in time. He turned me around and pointed me in a better direction. If I had never seen what Hell looked like, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate my life since then. Of all the things I read in college these quotes from my philosophy class are my favorites.
“Know yourself” – Socrates.
“Control yourself” – Cicero.
“Give yourself” – Jesus Christ.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.