I’m not talking about “O, Captain, my Captain,” (though holy shit if you haven’t seen Dead Poet Society and you need a good cry, go watch it) or even some “Good news, everyone” (been watching a lot of Futurama lately), I’m talking about things my own professors said during my college years. I wish it was weird, quirky stuff (some of it kinda is) but alas, it is actually pretty good school/life advice.
If you’re in college, I recommend writing down the off-topic things your professors say, especially the funny stuff. It’s good fun, and every now and then, you might actually learn something. Imagine that!
Alright, let’s get crack’n on this little side quest of my college survival guide series. If you missed part 1, be sure to check it out here.
1. Stop worrying about writing something good and just write
I love this quote so much. I want to put it up on my wall. This one came from one of my English professors, who also doubled as my advisor, and is now like my only friend from college, haha.
The story here is, I was really downtrodden about how poorly I was doing in his creative fiction workshop and I went to talk to him after class about it. That’s what he told me, in a nutshell. That class may have been like a puzzle I couldn’t solve (which drove me crazy because I was supposed to be a fiction writer, dammit!) but he always helped me feel like less of a worthless bag of unoriginality. Always a nice thing.
2. Don’t get it right, just get it written
Okay, so this one is pretty similar to the last one, but the context was way different. This one came from my laid-back fedora-wearing religion professor (I took his Scriptures of the World class as an elective) and we were talking about final essays.
I never worried about writing essays the same way I worried about writing those darn creative fiction stories, I was just too meticulous during the drafting process, always editing as I went–which is something I tend to do in my creative writing, too. And what he said really reminded me that–no matter what you’re writing–some times you gotta turn your inner-editor off and just get those words on the page. Go back and fix it later.
3. Give up a post for Lent
This one is going to require a lot of context. First, this came from another religion professor–except this was a required class, not an easy-A elective I took in my last semester. *cough* He was also pretty laid-back, but he was more of a ball cap and t-shirt guy.
This was one of those classes where you had to make a discussion post on the reading before every class, and it could get pretty tedious. We had a certain number of skips available, and some of us were pretty conservative about them. He often made jokes about how much we must enjoy writing posts, though of course he knew the truth. So one day, he told us to take it easy and give up a post for Lent. (Must’ve been that time of year.) It was so quirky and ironic that I couldn’t forget it. And though it was essentially a joke, I found a nugget of wisdom there: sometimes, you just gotta let the little stuff go.
This is also a man who once said, “Ecclesiastes is a good, honest book. I want it read at my funeral.”
My God, I wish I wrote more down.
4. Marry someone who always makes you laugh
Aw, how cute, right? Obviously this had nothing to do with college life, but I’ll be darned if this isn’t a nice piece of life advice. This one came from the choir director, who I had for the voice training (singing) classes I was required to take as a music minor.
This guy was straight-up awesome. He was Italian, always wore suits, and was insanely talented yet easily one of the kindest and most easy-going music educators I’ve ever met (if you did music in high school and/or college, you’ll know what I mean). All his students loved him, and we had a lot of laughs in his class. One of his catchphrases (though I’m probably missing some context) was that whenever someone made a bad joke, he would say, “I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.”
And this was before the Cats movie trailer.
Anyways, I had just gotten engaged and I was sitting in the student union with some music majors when he approached us and congratulated me. Then he told me a story about how, after twenty plus years of marriage, his wife still laughs at his dumb jokes, and that’s how you know you’ve married the right person.
SO FREAKING CUTE.
5. Don’t drink before you play
I see these have gotten increasingly less relevant as we’ve gone along. Well, this one is courtesy of my orchestra director, who was a short, high-strung Chicago Italian who was simultaneously effective and aggravating. He was a talented musician and conductor, but he also had a tendency to treat us college musicians like children. That’s always a nice way to feel when you’re twenty-one and in a semi-professional orchestra.
Anyways, he would often censor himself, but not because he was prude–it was because he thought we’d get offended or something. Yet occasionally, he would hint at the pretty obvious fact that he was reckless in college, and gave us the sage advice not to drink before a concert. Hm, you think maybe he knew from experience? Not a bad piece of advice, though. Probably shouldn’t drink before any major event that requires your braincells.
Hey, I had a glass of wine before a concert once, and I felt fine. But maybe that’s not quite what he meant… like I talked about in my freshman survival guide, it’s all about knowing your limits, amiright? And he never said anything about drinking after the concert… oh, wait, string musicians don’t party. We practice.
Professors can be some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. You may not learn from every single one of them, but you’re bound to learn something from some of them!
Tune in this Friday for part 2 of my college survival guide!
What’s the best/worst/weirdest thing you’ve heard a professor (or other educator) say? Comment below!