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My fellow students, the “A” on “A” Mountain has been whitewashed. This can only mean one of two things: Either a new academic year has started at ASU or U of A forgot its school colors again.

To the delight of ASU’s tuition office and fraternity row alike, with each new school year comes a new flock of freshmen æ and last week, the campus was inundated with hundreds of them. They came to participate in Welcome Week and, according to the ASU Web site, to get answers to compelling questions like, “If I have not registered for classes, what should I do?” The program even included helpful sessions like “Know the Difference Between an ‘A’ and a ‘B’” and an online checklist of useful tips like “buy your textbooks” and “make new friends.”

Inspired by the spirit of Welcome Week in general and ASU’s checklist for freshmen in particular, I decided to try my hand at a few helpful hints for the class of 2005 (or more accurately, the class of 2005-2010). After all, what I lack in qualifications to be an official ASU guide (e.g., a chipper attitude, an “ASK ME!” button, the ability to read maps, etc.), I more than make up for in experience æ I’ve attended Arizona “Harvard of the West” State for three years, I’m a senior and I occasionally attend class.

After deep pontification and analysis of my college career æ which may or may not have been repeatedly interrupted by nail painting, The X-files reruns and other important tasks æ I realized that the following hints would have been extremely helpful to me as a freshman:

• At all costs, avoid Hayden Lawn. Any unsuspecting student walking past this landmark on Cady Mall can easily come out the other end with a gym membership, a date for bible study, a cell phone and three subscriptions to the Tribune. Even if you escape these threats to financial and spiritual security, you may still witness political demonstrations, same-sex marriages and, most disturbing of all, dance routines.

• Learn to manipulate your trusty schedule of classes. Utilize the critical reading skills you honed in high school, and you’ll discover how a single class can satisfy virtually every graduation requirement. Read carefully, and your cultural, global and socio-behavioral thirsts can be quenched in just one three-unit course. This way, you become a well-rounded individual as quickly as possible, allowing you to (a) make interesting conversation at elegant parties (e.g., “These cocktail weenies are about as satisfying as Nietzche’s existentialism”) and (b) graduate in under 10 years.

• Never refer to your on-campus housing as a “dorm.” This seems to greatly anger University officials. ASU doesn’t have “dorms.” ASU has “Residence Halls.” You may live in the cramped dystopia of Manzanita or behind the putty colored brick walls of Cholla, but you do NOT live in a dorm. Furthermore, sororities are service organizations, learning a foreign language is important and the ASU football team is good.

Additionally, be aware of these important truths:

• There are three methods of getting around on campus: walking, biking and rollerblading. (I would suggest a fourth method of transportation here, but the ASU Police tell me that borrowing a campus golf cart when you’re late to class is “against the law” and that next time a hefty fine will be imposed.) There is a very distinct hierarchy at work here. Bikers have the right of way over rollerbladers on campus, and rollerbladers have the right of way over pedestrians. I am aware of this information because I’ve been a pedestrian and a victim for the past three years. This year, I bought a bike.

• As your college career progresses, you will continually find yourself in courses devoted to subjects like Elvis Presley, Buddhism or Loofah Sponges. These classes are known as “general studies.” They are called general studies because (a) they are in no way specific to what you’ve enrolled in college to study and (b) you generally have to take them anyway.

• Your professors may attempt to lead you into believing that “Reading Day” is for reading. This is a gross misperception. “Reading Day,” for new students unfamiliar with the concept, is an ingenious invention that gives students a day off before finals begin. Instructors (and silly honors students) claim that this day is necessary to rest up and study for exams. Not true. Remember that you still have the option of pulling an all-nighter, or simply studying the morning before the test. Clearly, this “Reading Day” is meant for other purposes æ a Mardi Gras before Lent.

• Remember, college isn’t just about the lessons you learn in the classroom. It’s about the people you meet along the way æ friends, teammates, probation officers and therapists. The lessons we learn from those around us, like a bad GPA, will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Megan Nielsen is a criminal justice senior. Reach her at

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