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Nine rules to live by in college

Marc Anthony Rosa | Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One of the absolutely worst quotes of all time is “college is the best years of your life.” Every college student on the planet rolls their eyes because it’s something the grown-up folk love to pass around like it’s phenomenal counsel. It’s just a terrible expression. Right off the bat, it indirectly reminds us that life doesn’t get any better after college. Immediately afterwards, it instantly puts us students in this emotional indebtedness, like we need to owe reverence towards an experience that we’ve yet to have.
As a graduating senior here at Notre Dame, rich with the experiences of our campus, it’s my duty to take the reigns of our forefathers and join the monotony of alumni banter. However, I refuse to tell you that college is the best years of your life. For your sake, I hope it’s not.
We can’t settle with this four-year experience as being the most dynamic, exciting periods of our lives, because it means our aggressive risk-taking and belligerent socializing meant nothing for our future. Our adult lives cannot become torpid shadows of our four-year lifestyle, where passions from college fade away by the rhythmic droning of mediocrity. We can’t settle for alumni dinners as our only reminder of a life in which we fully lived.
While college shouldn’t be the best years of our lives, it is arguably the most important years of our lives. It’s an environment that’s so unlike anything else in life. Here, we’re forced to understand everything about ourselves. We discover how we learn, the ways we think and the philosophies that make us tick. College is a place where, for the first time ever, we are truly accountable to ourselves. There are thousands of moments that each of us experience here – both beautiful and tragic ­- where success is measured not by the quality of the journey, but by actually having these experiences. To celebrate the gift of life, we must be willing to experience everything that comes with it.
There are so many things I’ve learned from my time here at Notre Dame. Instead of taking up more newspaper real estate, I’m going to share the top nine rules that I learned from college. It’s my sincere hope that these will help the most important years of your life become legendary.
Rule No. 1: Don’t be logical about your major. Follow your passions and pursue something that you love to do. The worst thing you can do with your parent’s hard-earned money is to invest it in something that you’re not passionate about because it looks employable. Don’t ever sacrifice intellectual satisfaction in the name of job uncertainty.
Rule No. 2: Don’t let schooling get in the way of your education. If I had listened to my professors, I’d be an A student and completely unhappy. Instead, I’ve learned far more than my courses have allowed and love life, because I spent time learning rather than mastering intricacies of an antiquating school system. You can’t teach how to be passionate in a class curriculum. Don’t expect to learn it there.
Rule No. 3: Manage your homework and your course load incredibly well. The amount of things you have on your plate will never subside, ever. Develop the tools now to tackle the things that get in the way of living.
Rule No. 4: Don’t waste all of your time partying. Don’t get me wrong; I love the rage. But, there’s far more to life than getting drunk when it’s accessible. Grab a camera, get on a bike and experience, even if it means doing it alone.
Rule No. 5: This comes from a Wall Street Journal Article (“10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You,” April 28): “Your parents don’t want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which isn’t always the same thing.” Despite what you’d like to believe, your parents might be purposefully limiting you. With so much risk in the world, can you blame them? To settle for a riskless, safe life is to settle for a life not lived.
Rule No. 6: Contrary to what we’re taught, the most powerful word in the dictionary is not yes, but rather, no. Focus is an unbelievably valuable commodity. To have the discipline and strength to turn down exciting opportunities is something that will make your life more fulfilling and less scattered.
Rule No. 7: Most of life’s problems can be solved with good sleep, waking up early and eating breakfast. The Denver Omelet is the gold standard of this lesson.
Rule # 8: Discover what it is that you live for. Everyone has it. If you haven’t found it, you haven’t tried hard enough to find it. And when you find it, you’ll know. Take time to find it, because nobody else will. Nor will they give you permission to do so.
Rule No. 9: Do crazy things and believe in something. When you’re 65 years old, you’re not going to care about how well you played the rules. What you’re going to care about is how you stood up for an idea, a movement, something that resonates with you and that you’re better because of it. One of the greatest things in the world is to truly own your own beliefs.

Marc Anthony Rosa is a senior
management entrepreneurship major. He can be reached at mrosa@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.