Originally printed in The Daily Targum, April 28, 1994
When I first entered this University, the bastion of Liberal Arts Knowledge that it is, I was seventeen, scared, confused, innocent, and I didn't know who I was or what I wanted to do with my life.
I'm no longer seventeen, but the rest hasn't changed.
I'm still sitting in my room playing computer games, listening to 'The Phantom of the Opera,' ignoring my homework, and wondering what I'll be like in four years.
I chose my major at random; I chose my friends because they talked to me. I think I made good choices in both of these categories (although my friends and professors may differ).
I also think I did some bad things. (Regrets, I have a few.) But, as Edith Wharton used to say, 'Never apologize, never explain: your friends don't need it, and your enemies won't believe you anyway.'
In the last four years, I've been picked on, picked up, turned off, turned on again, complemented, insulted, ignored, and lavished. Okay, I haven't been lavished much. But the point is, I've used my Rutgers education to send me around the world, run for President, go to a coffeehouse, see an RCPC film, and do a thousand other things, and I still feel like I didn't do enough, and I didn't use the resources available the way that I could have. Despite what anybody may say, there's too much here, there's an overwhelming amount of things to do, to see, and to become.
In my first Targum column one year ago, I told the first-years of Rutgers to 'find a senior; latch on to that senior,...and use that senior for all he or she is worth.' First of all, I was kidding. Leave me alone.
But more importantly, as a senior, let me tell you that if you latched on to one us one, you fell for the oldest mistake in the textbook--assuming that just because we're older, we're wiser. I speak for only myself when I say that seniors are quite possibly the most clueless people in the University. We're too busy worrying about the 'real world' -- jobs, graduate school applications, LSATs, moving out of our homes for good--to worry about the first-years, sophomores, or anything else about Rutgers. In fact, I find that I really don't worry much about anything at Rutgers these days; I'm more worried about my next four years. Maybe it's just a phase.
Of course, I'll never forget dear old Rutgers. As I start graduate school next year at Massachusetts County Community College, I'll look back fondly at the things that have made my Rutgers experience complete--the grease trucks, Brower, Old Man Rafferty's, Skinny Vinnie's, and other non-food establishments. But I'll mostly remember eating, because that's what I spent most of my time doing. I slept too, but it's hard to remember one classroom from another.
I find myself waxing nostalgic, seeing complete circles in my college career, and trying to find myself a better person for having traversed those circles. I'm not sure if I'm a better person, but I can certainly drink more beer than I could when I started. There's something to be said for that.
For those of you who liked my columns and told me so, thank you. For those of you who hated my columns and told me so--yeah, whatever. Most importantly, for all of you who asked me,'Do you write for the Targum,' and I replied, 'No, that's my brother,'--I was just kidding. I don't really have a brother. A sister, yes, but she only writes for other newspapers. No brother. None at all.
After fifteen columns of silliness and seriousness (one more than the other), I have but one piece of advice to give all those fortunate enough to be returning to Rutgers next year: try it. I know some days it's hard to choose between 'Just do it' and 'Just say no,' but your college education serves two basic purposes--to educate and enlighten you, and to amuse you. (The first is its intended purpose; the second is my own interpretation.)
You are here to receive an education, and since that is your primary purpose, study a lot. Learn a lot. What you will learn in your classes isn't limited to what your professor or textbook says; there is often a great deal more to be learned from what is not said. Open your mind to those things, don't make quick judgments, and think about everything carefully, even those things you have forever believed to be true. Only in this way can you complete the education that Rutgers can only partially offer they can give you the basics, but it's up to you to complete your growth.
The second purpose is to enjoy yourself. Let's face it--the rest of your life will probably suck. Try to find something you really enjoy at college, and do it. The best thing is when you can find something you really enjoy that can help you grow at the same time. (Hint: beer doesn't help you much.) These four years can be the most wonderful of your life, or they can be spent in your room with a beer and a pizza, complaining about the RU Screw.
The choice is up to you: Rutgers has a lot to offer. Take it.
Jason Gottlieb was a Rutgers College senior who majored in English and Japanese. Now he's not.
He would like to take this opportunity to thank the Targum staff, especially
Jeff, Jeff, Janice and that other dude (wink wink) for giving him a chance,
dealing with his nightly visits, and generally becoming good friends. Thanks.