Hello, new freshman class

Aug. 18, 2013 @ 10:13 AM

We’re so pleased that you have chosen our campus even if we were your fifth favorite school and you didn’t get into any of your four top choices.  Just remember, don’t blame us because Princeton wasn’t sufficiently impressed by your volunteering at the National Dachshund Society.

As your high school guidance counselors promised they would say in their letters of reference, you are the best, or at least pretty good. Well, not that bad. You have been chosen from among a multitude of high-achieving students who come from all over the country and the world, including New Jersey, but nevertheless who all speak the same language. 
Unfortunately, that language includes the use of the word “dude” as a salutation.
Now, as soon as you finish moving into your dorm and unpacking your five suitcases, six cartons, four plastic bins, drum set, convection oven, barrel of T-shirts and your 17 personal electronic devices, you will begin embarking on a great voyage. That will just be to get to your first period class, which, you will find out, will be on the complete other end of the campus.
You will have to walk over there because there is no parking available anywhere on the campus, or for that matter, in much of the developed world, and even your professors have to park in New Jersey.
While you are walking, please do not text at the same time or check your Twitter feed or Tumblr accounts because you may bump into a professor who has had an even longer walk than you and who doesn’t see that well anymore. In addition, many of them have had to enroll in the lower-level health insurance plan because of the high premiums for the premium plan and thus are not covered for texting accidents.
For the next four years — or, in some cases, the next six or seven years for some of you, and you know who I mean, English majors —you will be discovering who you really are and if you can fit that into 140 characters when you send out a tweet.
During this journey of self-discovery, you will work hard and find resources within yourself that will enable you to finish a history paper on the underlying causes of the Crimean War even though it’s 4:30 a.m. on Monday morning and you haven’t slept since the conclusion of the Crimean War.
You will explore many various and challenging fields of interest, and try to figure out if it’s possible to carve out a career based on your strong commitment to nachos and pizza. In fact, on this campus, you will have the opportunity to start the long, arduous trek to an entirely new world, that of massive student loan debt, where, in fact, you will have to subsist on only nachos and pizza.
Your parents are leaving you in our care today and all of them want you to remember just one thing: Don’t call them dude.
Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.