Most people think college is like it is in the movies, but it isn’t. You’re going to make lots of mistakes, some more humorous than others, so here are 25 ways not to start college on the wrong foot!
1. Don’t Be Afraid Of Making The First Impression
You may be surprised that you are more sociable/secure than your peers. People are always charmed by charisma, so be charming, it will serve you well professionally too.
2. Don’t Assume Friends Will Be Interested In The Same Things As You
It’s ok to attend music school and find your friends don’t share the same taste in music. You may even find that people who like the same music are not so friendly. You’ve got to set new parameters as to what will make a friend/professional contact.
3. Don’t Think Your Abilities Will Be Enough
Being talented won’t save you at art school, I’ve seen people come and go whose musicianship was beyond anything I’ve ever seen. But there are reasons why talent alone doesn’t and shouldn’t be the ultimate litmus test as to why music or art is ‘good’.
4. Don’t Use Your Dorm Room As A Drug Den
It might make you popular in the first few weeks of school, but there’s nothing your campus authorities would love more than to make an example of you! Maybe think of a better personally rewarding service you can solicit to your dorm mates and not start college with a bad reputation.
5. Don’t Use An Edgy Statement/Gimmick To Make You Famous
Propaganda of the deed or a bizarre sacrifice ritual in the cafeteria may seem cool to you in private, but the consequences could be disastrous. Acts come and go whose gimmicks made them look bad in the press, and the truth is, even though you’re in college, your career hasn’t really started yet, take it easy.
6. Don’t Be Too Cool To Miss Out Living In Boston
Boston is a great town to be in college, not everybody gets the privilege to be young and explore it, so give it a chance, there’s a lot to see and a lot of places to make memories you’ll value for years. Not doing so is to not start college meaningfully.
7. Don’t Give In To The Inferiority Complex That Art College May Exacerbate
You’re good enough as it is, and if you’re not satisfied, practice. Musicians are lucky in that the skills to be good at music and good lessons for other skills, so practice. Being insecure will not start college the way you want.
8. Don’t Be So Sure That The Big Kids ‘Get It’
It’s not a new lesson, you’ll meet people older than you, who are far less mature. If they talk a big game and it doesn’t look like they’ve got anything to show for it, don’t be fooled and don’t sink with them.
9. Don’t Be So Sure Kids Your Age ‘Get It’
College is a lot of shooting in the dark, you’ll encounter people who know less than you but might encourage you to do something stupid or waste your time. Don’t do anything that goes against your conscience.
10. Don’t Shy Away From Meeting Kids From Other Schools
You may actually find better professional contacts at other schools or friends you will always cherish. Being social in this way is its’ own reward.
11. Don’t Shy Away From Participating In Local activism/volunteering
Boston is a great place to fall behind a cause of some kind be it charitable, educational, social, political, and so on. You’ll look back on those memories fondly because being a part of something bigger than yourself is important.
12. Don’t Get Into Certain Fashion Ideas Because People Will Like You More
I fell for this one really hard, and all that came out of it was that within two or three years, none of the clothes I bought fit, and were not useful against the harsh New England winters. Not having the right clothes for the ever-changing weather is a great way to not start college.
13. Don’t Join A Cult
Not all cults swear oaths and participate in sacrifice, but if you think some kind of blood pact with a bunch of other artists committed to getting discovered is your route to success, you’re being played. Groups like that come and go at Berklee. Ritual is never as useful as hard work.
14. Don’t Get Stuck On Legal Weed Island
It might be legal in Boston, and it might be a great way to make friends, but it will sabotage your projects and waste yours and (dare I say) your parents’ money, and that’s a great way to not start college.
15. Don’t Spend All Your Time In School Working Aimlessly
As the phrase goes, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. If you practice like you perform, that means you don’t have to spend 10 hours shedding, it wastes time and doesn’t improve your memory.
16. Don’t Assume All Bad Conversation Is Because Of You
Some people are shy, and it’s a very hard thing to admit. This kind of sympathy will garner a great deal of appreciation from shyer folks.
17.Don’t Be Content With Your Parents Biases
Believe it or not, some of the things you grew up hearing from parents and your friends is just wrong. Here’s your chance to have access to the other side of the story, so pay attention if you can. Not trying to shed your biases is a great way to not start college.
18. Don’t Be Afraid Of Smoothing Out Your Rougher Edges
Nobody’s perfect, and the whole purpose of being in college is figuring out who you are and what you want to be. This is a perfect place for self improvement, so do it!
19. Don’t Miss Out On The Boston Music Scene
There’s a lot of great acts that come through Boston, and there’s a real sense of family in this scene, getting involved with it can give you contacts/gigs and more for years in the future if you’re clever about it.
20. Don’t Rush Into A Relationship Just Because Everyone Else Seems Like They’re In A Relationship
Having a relationship is great, but until you are content with yourself, no relationship you’ll have will be very meaningful, and that’s a way to not start college in a positive mindset.
21. Don’t Carry Your Musical Equipment Around Boston If You Can Help It
As sorry as I am for people whose stuff gets stolen, that’s life in a city. You’ve got expensive gear? Someone will steal it unless you’re careful.
22. Don’t Assume Everything You Learn At Berklee Is Correct
Humans are flawed, sometimes you’ll be told the wrong advice, don’t take it personally, just try to always have some kind of backup plan.
23. Don’t Be Afraid To Learn From Someone With More Experience Than You
If your aim is to break into the music industry, try riding the wave of someone more established than you, you can learn some important lessons without getting hurt or ripped off and develop a reputation!
24. Don’t Be In Such A Rush To Become Famous That You Get Ripped Off
I’ve had numerous friends who were in such a rush to make a record, they didn’t copyright it, and it was either stolen, or they made nothing off of it. Not Making sure your ducks are in a line is a great way to not start college.
25. Don’t Be So Ready To Be An Adult
We’re all still kids at heart, my best advice is to enjoy it, and be a grownup later if you can help it.
Are there other ways to not start college? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!
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John D. Short is a Bassist, and Songwriter/Composer from Tyler, Texas. He is the administrator of Philtrum Publishing Federation, a great lover of conspiracy theories, history and irony. He's a graduate of Berklee College of Music's Jazz Composition Program.