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Students should relish the four stages of college life

Published: Monday, September 2, 2002

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

College. "It's the best four years of your life," they say. "Enjoy every minute of it; don't wish it away." And you wave them off, dismiss the warnings with a series of agitated nods, because nothing is more annoying than people who seem convinced that that by stringing together age-old cliches they have somehow communicated an original idea. After all, you've heard it all before.

They have long left the transitional limbo of college culture and entered into adulthood. They have long since moved on with their own careers and families, but still sport their worn alma mater sweatshirts at tailgates with pride. They enjoy their alumni status, but still eye the student masses with slight envy. "Wouldn't you love to be there again – just once?"

It's a touching scene and something to look forward to, but for now it is the student's role to play the appropriate part. Little do they know that you have been listening to the desperate warnings, that you know all too well just what they're missing out on. The picture is only complete with you, the lucky college student, in the background. You see their longing and thumb your nose. You're loving each and every moment and living it to the fullest.

The freshmen are certainly the most giddy. There is perhaps nothing more amusing than a first-year in the fall, cheeks glowing with excitement and that betraying look in the eye that says, "Do you think they know I'm a freshman?" Yes, they know, they spotted you a mile away. But don't let those self-righteous upperclassmen get lost in a sea of rosy retrospection. They, too, are guilty of dressing for class as though it were held in Club Exotica and knocking on an off-campus apartment door with 30 of their closest friends in tow.

When you take away all that inherent ridiculousness and abandon the mind frame that all freshmen are annoying, you discover that they really are the most lovable college students. They are always open to anything, willing to join any club and help out in any way. They demonstrate an admirable school spirit and unconditional love for every aspect of college that is pure, not yet overtaken by that cool cynism of the upperclassmen.

Most sophomores suffer from an unfortunate case of identify crisis. What are you? You're not as "fresh" as those freshmen, and God forbid anyone should tag you as "one of those pesky underclassmen." You celebrate the uneventful twentieth birthday – not yet old enough to go to the bar without a fake ID, only halfway there to immediate acceptance at most parties. Alas, welcome to the collegiate purgatory.

Many overlook the sophomore's dilemma. There are only so many of those coveted suites to go around, and many of you find yourselves living on "the Road," or – gasp! – Upper Campus. This type of situation can be fairly erosive to those old friendship links.Your friends living in the lap of luxury will invite you down for a little tour, which will be especially iritating, because when they have more than just one room, they can technically call it a 'tour.'

There is some consolation. Make sure to repeatedly point out that they have to face the looming adversary of the Higgins stairs every single morning. It should prove very therapeutic.

The junior year is perhaps the most disjointed. The juniors are everywhere – and not just at on and off-campus locales, they are literally all over the world. Many return to campus searching in vain for half of their friends, only to remember they are an ocean away. Many only spend one semester of their junior year at BC, others are here for neither, cutting down one-fourth of the college experience at home base.

September of the junior year marks the half-way point – two down, two to go. There are those who say it has flown by too fast, and those depressing few who insist it can't possible creep by any slower. Hopefully you can be classified with the former.

Congratulations, your egos have reached their maximum size. You are the kings and queens of the school. You saunter across the Dustbowl with your noses raised impressively high and pluck underclassmen out of the way. They will certainly hate you for it, but that probably won't be enough to discourage them from the same behavior when they achieve your status.

You actually have Mods to go to without feeling intrusive on game days and at night. You can walk around campus toting a 30-pack in plain view – you almost want the police to ID you so all the youngsters can see how impressively legal you are.

So if alumni could go back – even just for a day – at which moment would they want to return? They probably would not be as picky as one might think, for each year brings with its own obstacles and rewards. Enjoy them all, but be careful not to believe what they say about "the best four years." They mean well, but don't forget that there are still those "bigger and better" things yet to come.

Nancy Reardon is the copy editor of The Heights. She is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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