More Jackson County Opinions...

May 22, 2002


Column
By: Kerri Graffius
The Jackson Herald
May 22, 2002

Congratulations to the class of 2002!
School is nearly through. And soon you’ll be hearing a load of advice from family, friends and graduation speeches about how the “closing of one door, leads to another open door” in your life.
Clichéd speeches and advice aside, here are my practical comments for the coming college years.
• Live in the dorms, if possible. Dorm life, to me, not only provides the best chance to get to know your classmates better, it’s also a great support network of information as well. Although apartment life may seem more desirable, I would argue that the dorms are a must for freshmen attending a large university, such as UGA. Dorms allow students to easily form study groups, have closer access to classrooms and (most importantly) teach students how to live with a complete stranger.
• Learn to stick up for yourself, especially when it comes to roommates. Living in the dorms certainly teaches you how to compromise, but at the same time if your roommate is doing something you don’t agree with (or can’t tolerate), then you have to learn how to tell your roommate. You’ll have the roommate that doesn’t clean, smokes or invites all of their friends into the room every night, but you have to establish those ground rules for the both of you the day you move in. Don’t take the “Real World” approach and add drama to the situation with your complaints, just ask them to be a little more considerate.
•Don’t live with a friend. As safe and comfortable you may think living with a friend may be, in my experience, those living arrangements cause the most problems. People change when they go to college, and so will you. Your best friends in high school may become the people you rarely talk with in college, just because everyone changes. Open your mind a little bit and live with someone you don’t know. My best experiences in college were with roommates who were complete strangers when I met them. Give it a try, but remember that criminal records are always on public record (that’s another story).
•Take your vitamins. If you’re going to live in a dorm, vitamins are a must. Believe me, I was so sick my freshman year because of all of the germs floating around the dorm that my doctor finally advised me to take a vitamin every day. Might I suggest Flintstones Complete. They’re good tasting and chewable.
•Know when to study and when to party. Ah yes, the number one cause of academic downfall among college freshmen. If you think now that you’ll only study in college you’re wrong; if you think you’ll never be in a situation where fun time won’t interrupt study time—you’re wrong again. No matter how good your intentions are about studying, you’ll have the friend that comes knocking on your door at 10 p.m. asking you to just “put down the books for a little while” and come have a drink. But if you see party time as a REWARD only on the weekends for your good study habits during the week, you’ll survive much longer than many other first-year students. It’s some of the best advice I can offer: study hard during the week and view partying only as a reward.
•Pad your resume a little bit, but don t forget to include the experiences that will never be on a resume. In high school, there s that pressure to join every organization and take on every task possible just to guarantee your placement a college of academic worth. I was certainly one of those students in high school who was an officer in every club I could undertake. And that continued when I attended UGA. Sure the resume may seem impressive, but you’ll soon realize your busy schedule kept you from doing just the “normal experiences” in college. I don’t regret the activities I participated in, but I do miss some of the things I never even tried in college. Just remember: a resume is only a piece of paper; your life is a whole book.
•Take the time to do what you want now. The summer leading into my senior year of college, it suddenly hit me that in a year I was going to graduate. And the freedom to do what I want, when I want would no longer be an option. Soon I would join the workforce with a permanent career and possibly start a family. That realization led me to travel more. Without advance planning, I literally took a plane to New York one afternoon and just walked around the city—just because I could. Now that I’m out of school, I could never do such a thing without first looking at the schedules of James or my employer. Do what you want now, but be safe and responsible.
•Above all else, keep a straight head. Common sense can be one of the best survival skills in life. There are so many book smart people out there, but their lack of any ounce of common sense can make them into some the dumbest people you ll meet. A mind to the realistic will earn you more respect than a high GPA.
•A few random thoughts on college life: don t record cleaver answering machine messages you ll frighten your grandmother; carrying a backpack on one shoulder causes back problems; intense conversations never take place on the streets, only in coffee houses; parking is ALWAYS a problem, get over it; career centers are helpful; keep a memo pad on your dorm room door; exercise is the best stress reliever; your social security number is more exposed at a large university; respect your professors, sit through their lectures for the entire class period; keep a rain jacket in your backpack at all times; fashion doesn’t matter, except on the weekends; black pants and cute shoes are a must in downtown Athens at night; UGA provides a list of how each professor grades for each class (it’s called “The Key”) and pick up your friends when they need it, even if it’s 2 a.m.
Kerri Graffius is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. Her e-mail address is kerri@mainstreetnews.com.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
May 22, 2002

Cool at all cost
Why is it you never hear an old-fashioned compliment anymore? That is, unless you are an old geezer talking to another old geezer.
Gone from the language of the younger generation are such phrases as pretty dress, good-looking suit, nice hairdo, fabulous jewelry, beautiful car, excellent grades, fantastic play (as in sports), wonderful speech, great party, hot date.
You see or hear something out of the ordinary. You like it. You want to express your approval or appreciation. Only one word will do.
COOL!
These days, even a hot date is cool.
This weird philosophy, syndrome, rage, fad - whatever - is prevalent among the X generation. And it is catching on with their daddies and mamas, a.k.a. baby boomers and SUV/soccer moms.
I have not heard anyone over 70 say (cool) except in reference to the weather. We old folks have cooled down too much to be involved in anything that isn’t ancient.
Some day the younguns will understand. If they don’t, Lord help ‘em. If and when they get old, and they are still trying to be cool, they’ll be the laughing stock of the town. Ain’t nothing more ridiculous than an old man or woman trying to be a young guy or gal.
Wonder if the X-ers know what they are saying when they say cool?
Wonder if they’ve considered the cost of being cool?
Doesn’t matter. They are going to be cool at all costs. And sometimes the cost is very high.
I do wish they would look the word up in the dictionary. Then they may, or may not, know what they are talking about. Dictionary definitions can be confusing.
The first one in my World Book goes like this: “somewhat cold; agreeably cold; more cold than hot.” (Say what?)
If you think that’s confusing, check out all the other cool meanings. They take up a fourth of a page in The World Book. Makes you wonder if the guy who wrote the book knows what the word means.
Like most things in life, a word means what you want it to mean, and that isn’t always the correct meaning. But like I’ve said before, perspective is everything.
Unfortunately, a lot of young folks perceive that it is easier and less exhausting to say “cool” than it is to come up with a two-word phrase or a simple declarative sentence. But then, many of them can’t speak or write a simple declarative sentence. So let’s not be too hard on them.
I don’t know this for a fact (I need to check with a shrink), but I believe there is a connection between cool and cap. Trying to come up with a compliment more mind-boggling than cool, like removing one’s cap while eating in a restaurant, is a lot of trouble and - well, not cool.
Back to the dictionary. Definitions of cool are about as confusing as the young people who are hung up on it. “Not excited; unemotional; calm” is followed by “having little enthusiasm or interest,” which is followed by “bold; impudent.” It seems to me that “bold and impudent” doesn’t jive with “unemotional and calm.”
In the World Book “cool” is followed by “play it cool.” That means “to act unemotionally” and “to lose enthusiasm or zeal.” I wish teenagers and young adults would quit playing that game. It’s a shame that they are losing their emotion and enthusiasm.
Next is “cool it.” This means “to calm down, take it easy, relax.”
Cool it also means “to loosen up; be carefree.” That’s what life is all about for many people. Some sociologists believe we have become a hedonistic and solipsistic society. I am not prepared to go that far - not yet - because most young people do not fit the negative picture I am painting here.
I do worry, though, how far some teens will go to achieve what they perceive as cool. Two costly ways stand out like a sore, ugly thumb, and I am not talking about the ugly way they dress.
I don’t know which came first: body piercing or tattooing. I also need to check this out with a shrink, but it is my opinion that the more body piercings and tattoos a kid has, the less cool, calm, easygoing, relaxed, loose and carefree he is. He may have low self-esteem, be depressed and afraid, and is reaching out for help.
And I am reasonably sure that these kids are not looking very far ahead. Can you imagine what all of that hanging jewelry and skin art is going to look like in 40 or 50 years?
It’s going to be one ugly sight, all that metal imbedded in globs of fat. And then there’s the pretty heart on the cheek and the beautiful butterfly on the buttocks. When they become contaminated and disfigured with wrinkles wrought by half a century of riotous living, they are going to look like . . . (Use your imagination and paint your own picture of that spectacle.)
But take courage, America. Most of today’s young people will grow up to be just like Grandpa and Grandma: weathered, wrinkled and wise - and worried about their grandkids.
By the way, here’s one definition of “cool” that we all can take comfort in: “not contaminated by radioactivity.”
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.


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