Back to School: 11 Tips for Making It Through University (and Life) from The Dilettantes
August 28, 2013
Meet Alex: He's in his last year at Simon Fraser University, where he writes features for the school newspaper, The Peak. Along with Tracy, copy editor extraordinaire, Chip, mustachioed Sports Editor, Keith, slacker humour editor, Rachel, ever-serious news editor, and Steve, plagiarizing opinions editor, Alex attempts to save The Peak in this amusing romp by Michael Hingston. In the process the gang passes on some knowledge about how to make it in university today.
Dilettante: A person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, especially in a superficial way; dabbler.
Meet Alex: He’s in his last year at Simon Fraser University; he writes features for the school newspaper, The Peak; he loves really random pop flavours; he thinks too much and ends up coming across as awkward; and he’s a little anxious about having his training wheels, aka the post-secondary student lifestyle, taken off as graduation looms.
Along with Tracy, copy editor extraordinaire, Chip, mustachioed Sports Editor, Keith, slacker humour editor, Rachel, ever-serious news editor, and Steve, plagiarizing opinions editor, Alex attempts to save The Peak in this amusing romp by Michael Hingston (published by Freehand Books).
In the process the gang passes on some knowledge about how to make it in university today:
1. No emoticons when texting:
“This is how the world ends, not with a bang but an emoticon.” – Alex
Though sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants, despite bad texting grammar. (Or maybe it just wants to keep its options open).
2. Use irony whenever possible:
“Irony let you skip the part where you decided what you believed in… Irony was your best defence, and a good offence, too. You threw it up like armour.” – Alex
3. Have an opinion. Post-secondary schools are very much like high school but instead of caring about nothing, you should care about everything (or at least pretend to).
“So when in doubt, be offended. When in doubt, sign that petition.” – Alex
4. Don’t spend all your time cooped up inside studying, remember to get out and breathe some fresh air every once and awhile.
Alex reminds students to “… breathe deep and enjoy themselves now, while time and youth and deferred student loans and temporary feelings of chest-beating immortality were in their favour.”
It’s too late for him.
5. You’re going to be writing a lot of papers in university, so here’s a tip: don’t use comic sans. Ever.
“It should be illegal to use if you’re over eleven years old.” – Peak Staffer
6. No Alanis Morissette references. We’re living in a post- 9/11, post-Obama world.
“Ironic” and Jagged Little Pill is so 90s, according to Keith.
7. Don’t fall into the first year trap:
You may live in the “Land of Endless Sweatpants,” aka rez, but you don’t have to look like you do. –Tracy
8. We all procrastinate in university. When you do, at least procrastinate on that 25-page paper you have due on Friday by watching the best show ever: The Wire.
All Peak staffers agree.
9. Read. Soak up knowledge. Books are your friend.
“Books outlived everybody. Plus they were a renewable resource, able to be re-opened and re-experienced at the drop of a hat.” – Alex
You can take that one with you when you leave university – it never gets old.
10. When working on a project try to do something different, something that will make you stand out when it comes time to be graded.
“… when you do something even mildly unusual, they’re just so grateful for the stimulation that they [profs and TAs] can’t think clearly.” – Alex
I smell an A.
11. Your university years are unlike anything you will ever experience again so enjoy it but don’t try to hold onto it because it isn’t supposed to last forever.
That’s what FaceBook is for.
Michael Hingston is the books columnist for the Edmonton Journal. Born and raised in North Vancouver, Hingston now lives in Edmonton with his partner and two kids. The Dilettantes is his first novel. You can follow him on Twitter or read his blog, Too Many Books in the Kitchen.
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