College is in session once again, and once again I'm moved to offer some advice on the topic. Your college years, of course, are extremely important. Some say your course for life is set at the university level. Never again will you have such opportunity to test your beliefs or stretch your intellect. Never again will you eat so much greasy food so late at night. Never again will you have such a large pool of potential sex partners.

Though it's been ages since I've been to school, I still have regular nightmares about college. In one such nightmare, I'm taking a test. I haven't studied for this test. I haven't been to class at all. I can't answer a single question on the test. This happened to me so often in real life that it's not that scary. I usually wake up in a cold sweat right after my dream self decides to change his major to journalism. The second such nightmare has to do with never getting enough credits to graduate. If you are now a college student, or plan to become one soon, you will have this dream, too, and for the rest of your life. Having this terrible dream over and over again is the price you pay for being lucky enough to blow four or more of the best years of your life goofing off on a college campus instead of digging postholes somewhere. As nightmares go, though, it's pretty functional. It serves to remind me of the only real lesson I learned in college. Here it comes. I'll explain it again down below, just so you don't miss it.

The whole point of going to college is learning how to get out of college. There, now you know. Now you don't even need to enroll. Don't even bother getting a parking sticker. Go off and have a good life, secure in the knowledge that you've saved a fortune in tuition--yet still possess higher education's greatest lesson. In case you want to go to college anyway, the following is an explanation of several key points related to college life. I've arranged this glossary of terms alphabetically, more or less--the kind of task I went to college to perfect. As you will see, I've concentrated on the serious, scholarly elements of college life, based on true-life accounts from people who experienced it. During my stay at the university, I found time for nothing but horseplay and lollygagging, and have suffered accordingly ever since.

Academic major A student decides upon a career objective, then chooses his field of study. When confronted with difficult prerequisite classes (such as algebra, organic chemistry or Spanish 101), he changes his field of study. Later, when confronted with the prospect of a lifetime spent in pursuit of an aggravating, low-paying, dead-end career, he changes it again. This is when he calls dad and asks for a job in the mail room at work. Adjunct professor Some universities supplement their full-time teaching staffs with "professionals" from the "real world." These characters come to the task hoping to show the "young whippersnappers" a thing or two about "reality," but totally blow it once they get a look at all the young hardbodies in their class. Such "rent-a-profs" then spend most of their time telling glamorous "war stories" about "the business" to try to impress all the "babes" or "dudes" in the room. In case any journalism department heads are reading this, I'm available for such work. Attendance, class Here's some advice, kids: If you go to every single meeting of a class, I guarantee you will get a C. It won't matter if you do any of the assigned papers, or even study for any of the tests. If you show your face on a regular basis, you pass. I never tried this theory out myself, of course, but I'm pretty sure it works. Attendance, happy hour If you do somehow manage to go through a whole week attending all of your classes, even the biggest "grind" on campus would agree you deserve to blow off some steam. Reward yourself! Go drink six pitchers of beer and get in a fight with a biker gang. It's all part of growing up. Attendant, car wash Of course, if you reward yourself too regularly, this might be the job you'll end up with. Beer Not just a beverage. A way of life.

Cafeteria food Wise administrators have taken steps in the past couple of decades to improve the food served in the university setting. Now it is possible for students to dine on pleasing, contemporary fare, such as pizza, burgers, French fries and frozen yogurt. Still, it is occasionally possible to come across a serving of industrial meat loaf, prefab mashed potatoes or weird stew. Young people should take full advantage of this opportunity should it arise. Buy the item, observe it, perhaps photograph it. Only an idiot would eat it, though. "Cake" class Every campus has a class (or classes) known by all to be laughably easy. Also sometimes called "gut" classes, these courses are taught in a lecture hall by a kind old fellow who appears to have suffered brain damage. If you're having some doubt as to whether a particular class is a cake or gut, poke your head in some morning and take a look. If more than 20 percent of the seats are occupied, it is not a cake class. College loan If your folks aren't too filthy rich, you probably qualify for a loan to pay for college. The concept that government can enrich society by offering citizens a subsidy for higher education is somewhat flawed, in my opinion. For example, I had a college loan, and during the first draft of this story, I spelled the word "subsidy" like this: "subzidy." Plus, by the time you pay off your low-interest college loan or loans, you'll have long forgotten everything you paid for. And every payment will make you more bitter and hateful toward the government. Then your mood and intellect will deteriorate until you become an angry talk-radio host. I don't think we need any more of them, so my advice to you is avoid college loans if at all possible. Commencement exercises These are the motions your dad makes every time he reaches for his wallet. Reach and pay and reach and pay and-a one and-a two and-a reach and pay. After dozens of tuition checks are written, after all the credit-card bills are paid, after all the bail money is fronted, the shoulder muscles on pop's wallet side get to looking pretty beefy. Community college Community colleges can no longer be called "high schools with ashtrays." Smoking is now prohibited on most campuses.

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Cap'n Dave