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Before The Title, Past
A Nonfiction Column
By Jeff Shelby


The College Years

    There are few things in life I get as much of a kick out of as college life.

    Having spent eight and a half years at seven different schools before finally earning my degree, I choose to think of it as a time where I got my money’s worth out of life. (My father chooses to think of it as a time when I got HIS money’s worth out of it, as it was all his money, but that’s another story.) I lived in different places, met different people and learned different things. How to survive on $3 a month, how to drop courses even after the drop date had passed, how to find food in the middle of the night.

    Important things.

    So I enjoy reading books about other people’s experiences during their university years. Here are a few good ones for you to check out:

Ruminations on College Life by Aaron Karo
Originally started as an email newsletter, Karo details his time spent at the University of Pennsylvania. His humor and attention to detail are both as sharp as razors and he takes us along on a ride inside the Ivy League campus. Nothing is off limits and Karo is happy to share it all.

Confessions of a College Freshman: A Survival Guide for Dorm Life, Biology Lab, the Cafeteria, and Other First-Year Adventures by Zach Arrington
Arrington details his freshman year at Baylor University and manages to make the difficulties behind registering, receiving financial aid and establishing a social life both entertaining and informative. This is a great book for the student just off to college, as it gives great insight to the first year in a whole new world.

Entry-Level Life: A Complete Guide to Masquerading as a Member of the Real World by Dan Zevin
This is more for those just graduated from college and trying to figure out how to put that shiny new degree to use. Zevin hilariously points out the meaningless exercises that most new graduates go through (job interviews, applications, etc.) and puts a great spin on the tough adjustment from student to pseudo-adult.

Goat: A Memoir  by Brad Land
This is a searing account of Land’s time in college, where he was first the victim of a random assault and then, as he tried to deal with the emotional trauma of that incident, experienced a whole different level of abuse as he pledged a fraternity. Land’s style, beautiful prose and haunting honesty make this a must read for anyone wondering what goes on behind Greek doors and how the fragile psyche of an intelligent young man dealt with the pressures of fitting in.

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