Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Perfect Graduation Gift

By Patrick O'Conner, PhD

Seniors, here are some recommendations on how to spend your summertime.  College is about trying new things, so give these a spin, and you’ll hit the campus more flexible than Gumby after a yoga class:

                Movie You Must See Before You Go To College   The Shawshank Redemption was overlooked when it was released the same year as Forrest Gump.  Now it’s on TNT every month.  A story about  second chances , forgiveness and negotiating with the world, this isn’t an easy movie to watch, but it talks about hope, determination, and always knowing what’s right.  It will give you the skills to handle Intro to Econ, eccentric roommates, and more.

                Movie Clip You Must See Before You Go to College  Call it cheesy, but the first scene in The Sound of Music is worth the five minutes and 46 seconds it will occupy in your life.  All you see are the mountains of Austria, and all you hear is the remarkable voice of a young Julie Andrews.  Success in college demands an ability to stop and appreciate that which is simple and beautiful.  Watching this clip will also help you understand why your father’s adolescence was complicated by having an intense crush on a nun.

                Song You Must Listen to Before You Go To College  The second movement of Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp is the finest piece he ever wrote, and its potential was fully realized by Jean Pierre Rampal.  Rampal started as a pre-med major, but his heart had other designs, and he went on to become the premiere flutist of all time.  This reminds you that anyone who believes all works of Mozart are the same has no idea what listening is all about—keep that in mind.

                Song Clip You Must Watch Before You Go To College  It took less than two minutes for Ella Fitzgerald and theManhattan Transfer to find their place in Grammy history in 1983 with this rendition of How High the Moon. Your goal in college is to work this hard to make everything look this easy—and if you leave college without an appreciation for good jazz, your tuition was wasted. 
                Phrase You Must Add to Your Vocabulary  “Ma’am.” Colleges are run by administrative assistants—veteran, organized, secretaries who have a way of doing things that is older than Stonehenge. This method almost always works to your advantage, except at peak times when every student needs help, and their system of order is on the brink of collapse.  That’s where you come in.

You:  “I need to drop a class.”
Administrative assistant, peering over half glasses: “Have you seen your adviser?”
You:  “Yes ma’am.”

You have made her day, and she will never, ever, forget you.

This is good.  Trust me.  Unless the assistant is male—then, never mind.

                Phrase You Must Delete from Your Vocabulary “No problem.” One of these assistants may thank you for doing something.  The only way you can get off their good side is to respond with anything but “You’re Welcome.”  Practice now.

                Book You Must Read Before You Go To College  How the Irish Saved Civilization  by Thomas Cahill. Neither fiction nor a scholarly work, it’s like your Irish neighbor telling you the enriched but true story of the vital role Irish monks held in restoring education to Europe during the time of St. Patrick.  You won’t read anything this easy or biased in college, but its story of how modest people can engage in diligent efforts that change history will stay with you forever. 



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