A Letter to My Dog, Half Pint

This last year may have been the worst one of my life, but at least I've got the world's two greatest dogs by my side to help me stagger into 2018. Today's post features a letter to Half Pint. Benjamin will be getting a letter later this week--he'd never let me hear the end of it, otherwise. Also, this posts features a lot of short video clips of Half Pint being silly. Since I apparently can't do anything right these days, they are exclusively shot in vertical mode. Please accept my apologies (and cut me some friggin' slack).

Top 10 Things No One Tells High School Graduates.

Congratulations, class of 2012!  For those of you heading off to college next fall, you're going to be hearing and reading a lot of advice about things that you need to know to help sufficiently plan your future.  Unfortunately, no one is going to say anything about the really important stuff...until now.

1. After getting thrown into the air, graduate caps do come back to earth...and they hurt.

In nearly every graduation scene that is portrayed on television or in the movies, the act of throwing the graduate caps up into the air is accomplished one of two ways:

a.) A freeze frame shot of the caps while they are at the apex of their vertical flight.

b.) A steady shot that stays in the air after they have been thrown.

This has desensitized many 18-year-olds to one of the most terrifying post graduation experiences of all time.

If you go to a large high school like mine (or like Wando High School, whose graduation is this week), you will be in a room with hundreds of other departing seniors. Everyone will be primed and ready to throw their hats into the air, just like they have seen it done in various forms of media throughout their entire lives.

When the caps go up, everyone will cheer wildly. You will then have approximately one second of silence in which everyone realizes that these garments of success are all careening back down earth. After that, the screams and loud "THUNKS" of mortarboards crashing into your friends skulls will begin.

Some will try to duck, only to get stabbed in the back by one of the caps' unusually sharp ends. Others will stupidly continue to stare up into the sky, leaving their eyes vulnerable to aerial assault. Your best bet would be to simply stay standing straight up, look down, and cover your head.

If you don't believe me about this horrible experience, ask any of your friends or family that have been through a graduation ceremony themselves.  Their eyes will glaze over and they will mutter a vague phrase like "Oh yeah, I think something like that may have happened..."

Either they don't want to remember, or they suffered brain damage from multiple blows to the head and have truly forgotten.

2. Squirrels on college campuses have absolutely no fear of humans.

If your mom was like mine, she constantly warned you to stay away from squirrels due to the widely held (yet completely false) notion that they carry rabies. 

Staying away from those cute little buggers wasn't much a problem, however, due to the fact that they constantly ran away and scurried up a tree if you got within 10 feet of one of them.

Squirrels on college campuses, however, have become used to humans.  At first it's kind of cute; they sometimes will even run up to you and beg for food.  But after a while, it can get to be a little creepy.  Sometimes the same squirrel will follow you from one class to another. Other times, a group of squirrels will be in your path and refuse to move, putting you in the humiliating position of stepping aside for a small rodent.  
Or they sit next to you on a bench and just stare...

3. When you stop eating fruits and vegetables for three weeks, pooping will eventually feel like you are trying to pass an iron rod.

Two factors make eating right in college very difficult:

a.) Healthy food is often much more expensive than junk food.
b.) Junk food tastes awesome.

You will also discover that many events during your first two weeks of college provide lots of free food (which is also not terribly healthy). There is rarely a voice of reason to prohibit you from downing a dozen doughnuts in 1 hour or having a cheeseburger and fries every day for lunch.

While everyone has most likely heard of the dreaded "freshman 15," many people fail to mention the excruciating act of passing stools when your terrible diet also lacks sufficient fiber. It's a bit like sharp, jagged rocks exiting your butt that you must also willingly push through.

Any joke you've ever heard about someone busting a blood vessel while pooping will become very scary.

4. You will meet absolutely no new friends at the university planned social gatherings designed to help you meet new friends.

Be wary of any advertisement or announcement that begins with "Hey Students!" If it's university planned, than you will most likely find a lot of socially awkward people that either won't talk or will be all too eager to talk to you about their hometown and their high school's newspaper club.

Rest assured that you will later meet a lot of great people that you click with, but it will not be here.

5. Don't feel bad if you get homesick. At least half of your friends that keep raving about how much they love their first semester of college are totally lying.

When I first went off to college, there was no facebook, skype, or affordable cell phone plans; combine that with being 6 hours away from my beloved family and friends, and I was one very homesick kid. It didn't help that nearly everyone I did get to talk to (via the wonder of internet communication that was AOL instant messenger) seemed to be having the absolute time of their lives.

That all changed when the truth about one of my friends (we'll call him "Dave") was discovered by my mother. While Dave talked a huge game about how much partying/dating/drinking he was doing, my mom (who talked to his mom) knew the truth: He was calling home every night and talking to his mother until 1:00 AM about how much he missed high school.

Thanks to movies and television (again), many of us have been conditioned to believe that the undergraduate college experience has be the best 4 years of our lives from Day 1 or our lives will be forever unfulfilled. The truth is, some people may take a while to adjust, some may not have found a school/major that is the right fit for them, and some may not enjoy the structure and lifestyle of college all together. College can be an incredible experience, but that doesn't mean other future possibilities and adventures won't be even better.

"Yes!  I'm almost done with my 'Student Loan Debt' adventure!"

As my freshman year continued on, I truly began to enjoy myself. I also heard from/about more and more friends admitting that their first semester was mostly spent sulking in their rooms or considering dropping out of school all together. At the end of the year, there actually were a lot people I knew that went to college and had a complete blast from Day 1...and an equal number that hated it at first.

6. The first time you get sick at school (and can't have your family take care of you) is going to royally suck.


I'll never forget the first day at college that I woke up and felt truly ill. Being a freshmen, I didn't own a thermometer; Mom had always had one if I needed it.

I felt my forehead and noticed that it was very hot and that I was sweating profusely. The fact that my first college dorm did not have air conditioning, however, made any self diagnoses of a fever a bit difficult. So I did what any responsible new adult would do: I called my mom and asked if I should not go to class that day.

Like many of you, my normally very nurturing and slightly overprotective mother was astonished that I was acting like such a wimp. She said it was a decision that I had to make. I initially decided to go to class that day, but ended up missing it anyway due to a terrible bout of "iron poop" that was likely caused by eating macaroni and cheese for 4 straight meals.

7. Credit card companies are insanely aggressive when dealing with college freshmen.


I was very fortunate that I had a father that taught me the dangers of credit card abuse and how to manage money. To me, a credit card was simply a way to pay for things without carrying cash, keep better track of what I was spending, and maybe get some reward bonuses for stuff I was already going to buy.

When I first arrived on campus, I received a phone call from a very nice sounding lady offering me the chance to open a credit card. When I informed her that this was a decision I should consult with my parents about, she pressed on, informing me that I was an adult and could make this decision for myself.

I then proceeded to deal with her like I do all telemarketers: I asked her to give me the pitch again, but this time in a seductive voice and using dirty words while I breathed heavily. She hung up, but others continued to call, along with pushy card company representatives putting up booths at the student center, dining area, and outside the classroom buildings.

Here's a hint: They aren't interested in helping you create a credit history. They want to get you now while your parents are away and you may be more willing to use a card irresponsibly and rack up some of that sweet interest/revenue producing credit card debt. Don't take the bait.

8. The college parties you see in the movies very rarely happen. A typical "party" will instead consist a lot of people standing around in a dimly lit house/back yard and drinking terrible beer.

You will also notice a copious amount of Christmas lights (in August and September) along with large groups of people sitting.

Guys, there will always be one girl going nuts and trying to get everyone to dance. DO NOT take her up on the offer unless you want to listen to her drunkenly cry about her ex-boyfriend for the next 3 hours.

9. University parking police are soulless, terrible people that will do everything in their power to make your life miserable.

Here is how it works: The school will sell more parking passes than they have spaces to give to students. After students scramble to find a place to park their vehicles, they send their head hunters out to give tickets and create huge amounts of revenue for the school.

Don't for one second listen to claims from these people that they are "just doing their jobs." I had a friend who was a parking enforcement agent; they love their work and try every dirty trick in the book. This includes hiding in bushes, ticketing before meters run out, conveniently ignoring obscured 'No Parking' signs, and painting new 'No Parking' curbs and towing the cars that have already been there.

Try your best to avoid parking illegally, but if you get caught and have to pay a fine, pay them in pennies. 

10. There will be people with easy majors that never seem to go to class and have all the free time in the world. Do not envy them.


These people seem to have it all; no homework (or "studying" as it is redefined in college for some reason), lots of free time, and an easy pass to a college degree.

I know some of these people. They ended up with terrible jobs and living with their parents well into their 30's. A degree is just like a cover charge to a great club; it lets you get in, but it won't help you dance any better.

Your future depends on your ability and willingness to work hard along with networking and a little luck. Get the coveted piece of paper known as a diploma, but realize that no job will magically appear because of it. If you've made it this far, than you have shown that you can complete tasks and see things through. Now it's time to go out there and start making your own path.

...oh yeah, and don't forget 
to wear flip flops in the dorm showers.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how much I suck more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.


Anonymous said…
stoles = stools
Anonymous said…
Truer words seldom spoken.
Anonymous said…
#11 College is a complete waste of time and money. You should have all of the skills to be successful in life when you graduate highschool.
Obbop said…
I learned a LOT in college; mostly from the non-fiction books I read not required by any of my classes.

I learned that the USA is in the throes of class war and that the federal government and its multitude of bureaucracies is an enemy of We, the People.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
You sound very bitter...
Anonymous said…
Yeah...engineers, doctors and physicists should just use their high school knowledge and wrong the rest.
Anonymous said…
That's right comrade. Just follow blind simplistic doctrine written by haters-with-an-agenda.

Or maybe get off your bu!! and work to change the parts of the system you find so heinous. That's the way it's supposed to work.
Anonymous said…
#12. Overpriced colleges are the first step to getting you in debt and keeping there for the rest of your life. If you have to borrow money in order to go to college, then don't go to college. Live within your means. Don't let a bank own the fruits of your labor.
Anonymous said…
... he is working to change it, that's what the post did. Do you not understand how this works? What, do you want him to gun down some senators or something, "comrade"?
Anonymous said…
No. Just saying that haters gotta hate, and that doesn't get any positive change done.

Declaring our government the enemy is unproductive hate-mongering; so is suggesting the use of violence. And hate-mongering in an obscure message board is not "working to change it" - it's just moaning and pi$$ing.

Perhaps if Obbop would do a little studying on how our government actually works, then Obbop could lobby, or take part in one of any number of other venues designed for citizens to effect change in our laws when they don't like what's going on.
Anonymous said…
You sound poor.
Anonymous said…
For many reasons, I had to drop-out of high school (dysfunctional family, becoming a ward of the state, aging-out before graduation, etc...), so I joined the Navy. My goal was to become an architect; in the Navy Seabees I became a draftsman/surveyor (EA). I literally circumnavigated the world thrice, earned my GED and AA, and retired after 21 yrs as a CWO. I used my pension and GI Bill to go to college, working part-time on campus. Four years later, I had my MA in Architectural History and credentials. I now work for my county as a surveyor, photograph buildings for realtors and owners, teach part-time at a local CC, and have a part-time job with a package-shipping company that I use as my "gym" (the exercise keeps me in shape and they pay me!). I'm looking forward to four pensions, plus investments, have more benefits than I can use, my home and vacation homes are paid, I have no debt and I can't believe I was often homeless as a kid. I really enjoyed college as an older student. I think if I had gone from HS to college, I may not have done as well. I chose to finish my degrees in the CA State University system because it was the least expensive (about $850/semester [6-18 units] + books and fees). I avoided parking hassles by always taking a 07:00 class and being one of the first on campus in the mornings, and I always took at least 18 units (one semester I had 27, and my Mondays weere from 07:00-22:00 with only 1 hr break from 12:00-13:00 - mostly because Film Study was a 5 hr class). I think many students would benefit from first serving their country and getting a taste of life here and overseas,away from apron strings, before matriculation. It worked for me and at 56 life is pretty good. True, it's not for everyone.
Anonymous said…
I agree w/ em all except the one that says to not choose an easy major. I had an easy major (communictions), never had to study & partied hard. I got a job right out of college (w/ benefits & a 401K) & make more $$ than my friends who had harder majors or went to grad school & are now tens of thousands in debt. Take my advice & be a slacker, C students rule the world (like me)
Nick Nafpliotis said…
Hello Farkers :) Glad to see folks from my favorite website hanging out and snarking it up here on RBC as well.

And for those of you making all these valid points about college not being for everyone, pick a good major, professors don't care, etc...

...remember that this is a list of advice that is NOT given, but still should be.

I know that when I felt like I was pooping granite rocks due to a lack of fiber, I wish I had heard Item #3 (or actually listened to my mom any of the million times she reminded me about it).
Bill Kite said…
Well said Nick! You forgot that your meal card will be out by Thanksgiving forcing you to eat fast food until the semester lets out meaning the "Freshman 15" is actually the "Freshman 30!"
Anonymous said…
Right on!
Anonymous said…
Or the school will only offer meal plans with about 33% more meals/campus credit that you need, requiring you to buy $60 in junk food at the end of the semester just so you have something to show for it.
Marklar said…
Yeah! Nothing says "working to help the oppressed people and furthering the cause" like posting vaguely hysterical comments on poorly-read web sites. Stick it to the man!
Anonymous said…
Nice post. Well written.
I went to college in India and stayed with my parents for all four years, but I came to USA for grad school. Measly stipends, crazy landlords, people with easier degrees, and getting sick away from family—I did all that in grad school, but the experience was the same.
Anonymous said…
From my experiences, parking officers get an unfair reputation. I worked as a parking officer my last year in college and I can say that almost every person doing this job was there because it's a slacker job. I would not worry about this if I was an incoming freshman. I'm sure there are some people that get satisfaction from giving out tickets, but a pretty large majority just give out enough tickets so they don't lose their job.
Anonymous said…
i'll drink to that,.. saved me a bunch of money. (no i'm not poor)
karmazfool said…
Sorry, but the cost / benefit ratio is not in your favor when you leverage a 40k paycheck with 100k in debt. You can't avoid some kind of credit in college because you can't make it off grants and scholarships don't grow on trees. Your age group has the highest unemployment rate so don't plan on working your way through school. You'll be wasting 40 hours for beer money.
Anonymous said…
Seems like you fit into the #10 category, wasted your time on a useless major, yes?
Unknown said…
Squirrels may not carry rabies, but in the Southwestern US and California the squirrels may have fleas carrying the bubonic plague.

Link to the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/plague/info.htm
Anonymous said…
Borrowing money to go through college and get a CS degree was the first smart thing I ever did.
netwrok said…
The first 3 points were amazing bits of information that every high school graduate should know.
Anonymous said…
This should be reworded as "Do your research and figure out if your choice in careers even needs a degree or if you can get in/by with the training they offer upon hire or with a course offering you found in the local paper"
David Lemley said…

"Two factors make eating right in college very difficult:

a.) Healthy food is often much more expensive than junk food.
b.) Junk food tastes awesome."

Apple - 25 cents.
Doritios - $1

Banana - 35 cents
McDonald's Value Menu Cheeseburger - $1.39

Yes...MUCH more expensive for sure!
Anonymous said…
Nah dude! I have a hard major and study all the time. The difference is, I love my homework and I'm going to have an awesome job that while it doesn't pay a lot, is going to reward me richly in happiness. Money isn't everything.
Anonymous said…
I think parent poster's point is that MEANINGFUL lessons (job skills) should be taught in high school. I don't think there's any argument that Doctor or Physicist requires additional education - but all high school grads should be capable of Office Manager or Network Administrator.
Anonymous said…
I must be doing college wrong then...
Anonymous said…
"But it ranks right there with Oxygen!" - Zig Ziglar
Anonymous said…
They didn't teach my course at school. But yeah, you're probably right. I can totes get by with what I didn't learn at school.
Anonymous said…
You're the exception to the rule. But you're probably right. I'll go tell my medical student friends to change their course.
Anonymous said…
You'll notice the article says 'often', not 'always'.
Anonymous said…
American you should stop saying that college is bad and start asking your government for more accessible education, go on strike you people live in a democratic country you should know that part of democracy is your power over the government
Anonymous said…
right right those venues work like a charm .....maybe you need the history lesson, and by the way are you not aware of how the social economic sectors are moving as predicted by Marxist works.....it is pretty clear how the middle class is despairing
Anonymous said…
i'm not even out of high school yet. about 8 days left. 4 for finals and 4 for useless activities which i enjoy. Some of this sounds right other parts sound a little intimidating. But i know everyone's experiences are different so why say one way is correct and another is wrong? if it works it works if not find a new path and follow it.
Anonymous said…
I think the biggest reason that that cannot change things is that most people entering college this decade have no will power or drive at all. It's great for you that you were able to do that but from my experience the majority of college age kids now are too lazy to work 4 jobs, join the navy/any armed services, go to school more than the minimum number of hours/semester or go to class at 7. It'd be much better if they were willing to do that but they're mainly just lazy partiers now, not students anymore.
Anonymous said…
I agree that people should avoid overpriced private schools, but almost everyone needs to borrow money for college, even if it's a cheaper state school. Avoid over-paying, but don't skip college just because you need to take out a loan. Unless you've got rich parents, you're gonna have some student debt no matter what kind of school you go to.
Jason T said…
College opens many doors. I am working on my MBA and have many job offers that otherwise wouldn't exist.

If you cant manage debt then dont do it. For the rest of us, college is a life changing event and has been the changing factor for my entire life. It has rounded my opinions and forced me to gain an education in many subjects that I otherwise wouldn't have (leadership, financial analysis, economics, marketing). I am the person I am today because of the teachers and education I have.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, because choosing an easy major just so I can "PARTY HARD BRO" all the time and ending up in a boring job that I hate sounds SOOOOOO much better than studying the Math and Physics that I love and learning to unravel the mysteries of the universe.
Anonymous said…
Hear, hear!
Anonymous said…
I've got to say that USA's education system is quite money centered like almost everything...
Why don't people complain about that ?
In germany for example u study for free!!
just so u know that its not utopia.
Education should be a choice not something u have to take a credit for.
(of course u have to pay ur books and stuff but with the internet and the university library its quite cheap)
Anonymous said…
5. Don't feel bad if you get homesick. At least half of your friends that keep raving about how much they love their first semester of college are totally lying.

-simply false. don't spend all your free time in your dimly lit dorm room and you'll have fun.

8. The college parties you see in the movies very rarely happen. A typical "party" will instead consist a lot of people standing around in a dimly lit house/back yard and drinking terrible beer.

-false. go to a private school with fraternities, sororities, sports teams, hell even marching band or acapella group and this will NOT be the case. if you just stand a round a dimly lit room drinking bad beer, you're doing it wrong.
Anonymous said…
In most cases, yes.

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