Girl News

Girls and College

By Kate Carraway

I don’t even have a sense of how to position college in the Girl Experience because a) I literally don’t remember it—not a single class, what I did, what I looked like, or what I learned—even though I have an honors degree in politics. (Quite aside from the really intense full-time graduate work I did in getting way fucking high, that is weird, right?) And b) college is very much like ‘family’ in that the meaningful corollaries of experience between girls that we can talk about here, while we chew gum and daisy-chain the wrappers, is just too bound up in so many other traditions, experiences, and standards that there’s less of a wayin to the whole, common thing of ‘THIS IS COLLEGE.’ We don’t even call it ‘college’ in Canada, even though it’s just as letterman jackets and sweatpantsy here, we call it ‘university,’ just like Daddy does. This necessitates a different Girl News approach than, say, blowjobs, because no matter your personal context, where you come from, whatever, a blowjob will always be a blowjob (unless, like, Norwegians do them really weird? WHOAH, DO YOU?), like, we all use our thumb-pads to deal with jizz spill-off. And c) because college no longer seems like a singular, mandated, teensploitation-ready experience of familiar tropes for whoever is in, like, the top three-quarters of the socioeconomic spectrum or got good grades in high school or gives even a tiny baby shit about doing what you’re supposed to do or has parents that make you go. Now college, like fucking everything, is less of an assumed rite of passage and more of an economic transaction colored by Sex Terror and debt and date rape (OK that’s pretty 90s, when we thought ‘college’ meant ‘date rape’ and ‘date rape’ didn’t mean ‘everywhere all the time’). Do you know what I mean? Not to dive into the nostalgics this early, but when I was little college meant something mythic and Skull and Bonesy and forever, where I’d wear certain things (brown Prada boots; navy blue tights; tweed skirts, button-downs; reasonable ponytails) and come out so much smarter, and now that I’m a degenerate grownie college seems, like, just an enormous Visa bill you accrued when you were drunk. Is it still even fun? Email me.

DRUGS

Let’s start here since I do have some kind of memory of tripping balls in downtown Toronto in the winter without a coat on, which would be consistent with the facts of my college experience, and hallucinating that the thin red strings in weed were floating out of the baggie and onto my eyeballs, criss-crossing their broad white plains in the mirror like lonely backroads. And what I do remember, synesthetically, about college, is being very wet and cold and dirty most of the time, which is why I will go for a brisk walk when someone so much as rolls a joint, because my sense memory starts to transmute into just being fucking freezing and uncomfortable and getting terrible grades and knowing so many things that I couldn’t bring myself to say because what if I didn’t know them in the right waaaaay? This is very frownyface.

ROOMMATES

I am just totally opposed to the idea of college roommates because surely having a stranger sleeping across a room from you when you are at what has to be the most vulnerable time in your whole life will undermine your personality forever because you can’t fucking even masturbate??? Y’alls should totally contact Human Rights Watch about this.

POWER       

Power structures are wildly different in a college setting than in high school in that the most important girl is a little hedgehog from some shit town where she was Max Fisher But Worse. Ugh, and she’s always real smug and doesn’t know that she’s not cool, or that her coolness taps out at the top of the nerd pyramid? BUT DOESN’T CARE? Anyway the point is that professors are still not allowed to fuck you, but are a little bit more allowed than in high school, but you will be commensurately that much less interested. Wait, is sex in college boring? 

INFRASTRUCTURE

Without the organizing, highly social infrastructure of high school, college—OK, at least liberal-artsy-social-sciencey college—is four years soundtracked by uncomfortable, sun-filled afternoon silence, punctuated by, like, denim being pulled on or off for naps. Nothing in the college-kid schema is grosser than naps on hot, white afternoons. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

HOMECOMING

Explain this to me? Or, like, translate it from Tommy Hilfiger ads and Gilmore Girls episodes and random afternoon car horns into English?

CHOOSING

Selecting college is serious biz, girl. Picture me hovering over your bed while you’re falling asleep, finally, after a couple Adderall days and nights (in this scenario I’m wearing a white-linen Little Princess nightgown obviously, and my hair looks great), and saying “You in danger, girl. You in dangerrrrrrrrr.” If there’s a single thing to take seriously in your pre-21 life it is probably who to have sex with (if you even have sex; not having sex ever but making out all the time is the summit of pre-21 hotness) and where to go to college. Go see them and do those queer little tours and ask questions and Do You. If your parents aren’t helping you, drop a 20-page document (in a duo-tang!) about how their neglect will lead you into compromised life decisions and a static and middling income for the rest of your life.

Anyway, the school I went to was supposed to be ‘the best’ and I went there because of that, sort of, but also because they had the least emphasis on school spirit in that it wasn’t actually a school but seven (I think?) colleges that made up one big course-reader industrial complex, thereby preventing the existence of any actual institution to feel feelings for. (Also my program had the highest possible concentration of actual douchetards available in the whole school, which for competitively horrible 19-year-old men is, like, a day-long Booooooooooooooooooooom.) Each college still had a rep: one was for self-serious virgins who wore robes to dinner; one was for asssluts who, I guess, collectively owned the Invicta backpack factory? And then one college was basically/historically for Protestants and one was for Jews and one was for vegetarians. Not at all kidding.  

Go to an Ivy League school if you can get in and possibly afford it not because of the eternal and legitimate brags it offers but because the people who go are the most intense, the smartest, and the weirdest. It’s like there is an invisible crash pad underneath everything to do with the social aspects of a really high-level undergraduate education (obviously that crash pad is mostly made of money and tradition) so even the sweater-vests are essentially balls-outing everything all the time, because colleges like this still understand that being young and hungry should be a 24/7 dare.

FAILING

If you’re smart in high school you have to wield it like a Hattori Hanzosword, poised at chest level, ready to do whatever you need to do to not be found out, which might mean sinking into the hot tub of no-big-deal, lazy sluttery or being an unfathomable cunt or whatever. GUESS WHAT? You’re going to get Ds in college because people who are smart but don’t have to work at it have no idea how to try and then get shamed for a year before dropping out (I dropped out). Whether or not they eventually graduate from college is entirely based on their personal relationship to that shame, and if it motivates or punishes. Here, I give you my sword.

BOYS          

OK listen to me: the boy scene in college is so fucked up.

PROS: It is make-or-break, sink-or-swim, pass-or-fail era for dudes whose moms were previously managing their clothes, hair, and body odors. And some dudes can really handle it! And take the opportunity to, like, talk to girls, and know girls, and be on a certain, new level with girls. And maybe they find out about how every item of clothing they put on themselves is a choice. And here is a thing: the way dudes start to take off their sweaters in the library, but then remember that their face is still occupied so they pull off their glasses all cashi-casual, then one-hand the sweater over their legit bedhead and then sort of bounce a few times while they put the glasses back on and sliiiide into a chair? That’s the college equivalent of when you see a slice of pubic bone under some jeans in ninth grade. Sorry, the liquid contents of my body just like leaked out and now I am drowning in them goodbye forevererererrrrrrrr……

CONS: The guys who can’t handle it just become prodigiously, geometrically gross. Like, they smell this squirrel-way, and the least deserving and most hateful of them get soooo much pussy, like sooooo much pussy, and they start to understand how tilted the world is to their desires and needs and so they just race up stairs three at a time with dead grins knowing that what they’re doing there is the beginning of something that’s already happened since America was founded. I mean, it’s fine. We’d all do the same thing if our basic tall white dick-ness meant something so enormous. Right? Fuck, I would.

STUDYING

The only reason I graduated college is because I studied with my friends who were in medical school. One day, one of them found a slice of eyeball in the pages of his textbook. Also one day, one of them showed me a picture of a hard palate removal, and I quit smoking almost forever. It’s easy to do well if you frame studying as something wantable, sexy, fun, adult. THAT’S HARD, THO.

OTHER GIRLS

Unlike high school, in college you will be surrounded by girls who you will not actually meet, which means that you will base a four-year long non-relationship based on each other’s clothes, hair, and backpack choice. There was this one girl I saw who wore this pair of high-heeled stiletto boots every day and I wanted to tell her that you’re not supposed to wear the same shoes twice in a row and the ethical dilemma therein was actually more interesting than most of the political theory I guess I was learning?

THE FUTURE

FYI I used to stare at this super cute boy (‘Headphones Guy’) in the dining hall pretty much every day but never talked to him because I was really busy dying my hair bright red and not smiling, and ten years later made out with him after getting hecka-Prosecco drunk in like $700 shoes a few hours before going on vacation and basically I am painting you a picture: It gets better. (Maybe.)

MONEY

There exists a gray market/shadow economy wherever college kids are at, offering discount haircuts and beer specials. However: college towns are still ‘towns’ and ‘towns’ are always in possession of non-specialized poor people who don’t happen to be 18 and perfect, which is why even at my brokest broke I felt weird about capitalizing on, like, the cheap Hare Krishna dinners that my then-grad-school friends were so jizzed about. (Yeah, ‘jizzed about.’ Get into it.) My recommendation (and I’m 31 and literally do nothing expect think about… nothing) is to forget all of that and be a little more athletic in your student poverty, like, for fun. Like don’t get a cheap haircut in the unrenovated mall basement; obviously your friend can cut your hair. And obviously ‘pre-gaming’ should be elevated to the point that instead of ‘going to a bar’ you show up at the bar trailing imaginary, primary-color silk streamers, already so brined in gin you literally cannot see straight, and do two circuits of basic screaming, and then leave with your friends.

Also if you’re the one paying for school with exploitative student loans and trillions of hours at a poorly paying job, at least work really hard. Do you know how many people go back for A FIFTH YEAR to ‘get their grades up’? Oooooh it’s so depressing I have to pee.

LITTLE FRIENDS

Crucial to every baby teen-wolf who grows up in a college town is ‘older friends,’ not only for alcohol procurement but to be smuggled into film class (I saw Belle de Jour and also learned about keeping drugs in to-go Tylenol bottles) and given the right paperbacks. I don’t care how many internets you have, or how many ‘cool’ classes (they’re not that cool): you still need human people to parse the entirety of the world’s intellectual tradition for you.

BEER

Gross. Beer is for boys, wine is for girls. Dogs are boys and cats are girls. I don’t care.

Previously - Girls and Fashion: Part II

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway

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