The Abridged Freshman Manual

by Alexander Jacobson

Actually by Alexander Jacobsam.

The Abridged Freshman’s Manual for Identifying Other Freshman and Advice Freshman Can Offer to Other Freshman in Exchange fore Petty Freshman Friendship.
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On Move-in
– The college-age youths in blue shirts offering to help you move in are not, in fact Penn students. They are panhandlers. They will offer their help to you, then do nothing but push your cart two-thirds the way to your room and then demand you give them money. Worst of all, they don’t take Dining Dollars. I know, they make you feel good about yourself and make you feel like you have friends, but they are not ‘friends’, they are ‘panhandlers’.
On ‘OG’ Panhandlers
– The men wearing their entire wardrobe outside CVS are not Phins… Phins offer you services that make move-in run smoothly, hobos do nothing but request that you perform four-letter services to yourself. Don’t give them money…only septa tokens in odd denominations so they are sure to end up somewhere other than where you are currently standing.
On Clothing
– Wearing too many pieces of Penn paraphernalia will signal upper-classmen that you are a freshman. If your socks, pants and underwear are embroidered with a Penn logo, remove them immediately and proceed directly to my room (if you’re hot). If your tennis shoes are also classified as Penn paraphernalia, remove them and hand them to the nearest sophomore so he can kick you in the ass with them. If your backpack has a Penn logo embroidered on it, buy a new one. It’s perfectly acceptable to have red and blue facepaint on at all times, however.
On Walking
– Walking in groups of more than twenty eight is suspicious to upper-classmen. We know you are freshman if you still think you can increase the bandwith of your circle of friends by trying to both eat and walk everyone in your dining hall. However, be sure to remain in groups of more than twenty six because you’re in fucking West Philadelphia and the likely hood of being mobbed by mobs of 13 year old boys increases exponentially with every step you’ve take in any direction.
On Being
– The most important piece of advice for freshman is not to be a freshman. Ring in your AP credit, attend extra classes, steal an upper classmen’s Penn card—whatever you have to do, just don’t be a freshman.

Freshman Have It Easy

            There is a tremendous amount of freely available advice for freshmen at this time of year. This is to be expected; they have never been to college before; indeed, many have never lived away from home. They are leaving all that is familiar and comforting and are being cast into a new and unforgiving reality. They will have to face many horrors: introductory classes, frat parties, and urban poverty.

           But when one strips away the lurid sensationalism, it’s really not all that bad. Freshmen receive a lot of help. There’s a fair bit of handholding at Penn, for such a large university. They have all sorts of advisors (peer advisor, academic advisor, residential advisor, avuncular professor, Magic 8-ball), publications designed to help them (Practical Penn, Punch Bowl’s Freshman Issue, Omnivore’s Dilemma) and an entire NSO period in which everything is geared to their interests.

But what about us seniors? Here are some reasons that we seniors are both more in need of help as well as a listing of some of the meager resources that are available to us:

1. LACK OF DIRECTION. It is true that freshmen don’t know what they’ll major in, but seniors don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Freshmen pick classes. We pick careers. I think we have a right to a little more panic. Fortunately, we have Career Services to point our way, mass email by mass email. Thanks, Greg Borgstede Kelly Cleary!

2. LACK OF FRIENDS. Freshmen will arrive on campus with few if any social connections. It is equally certain that they lack any semblance of the skills necessary to acquire them. But seniors have now had three years to find out that everyone else is as soulless and boring as they are. Naiveté is awkward and difficult, but not as bad as depression and ennui. Thankfully, Penn organizes class social events, so even if you hate your peers, you at least pick up a sweet feb club t-shirt.

3. LACK OF CASH. Freshmen will have never balanced a budget before and their inexperience will lead them to poor financial decisions, like ever going to Urban Outfitters. This being said, though, their parents will always be willing to bail them out. By the time they are seniors, though, parents are sick and tired of sending more money to cover that extra emergency, be it a meal at Le Bec Fin, a PS3, or an appendectomy. My selfish dad, for instance, wants to retire now that he’s 80 and too old for coal mining. We seniors would be penniless if it weren’t for our hard-won knowledge of ways of acquiring free food and cash. Club meetings with free dinners are just the beginning. Begging outside of Wawa, volunteering for Wistar gene therapy experiments and eating Amy Gutmann’s plentiful leftovers keep seniors fiscally afloat.

4. LACK OF SKILLS. Freshmen come to Penn barely knowing their asses from holes in the ground, which has led to several embarrassing accidents. They not only lack social acumen, but also the most basic academic know-how. Yet Penn offers them special seminars and course requirements specifically designed to help them acquire critical thinking skills, quantitative data analysis skills, critical reading skills, intercultural skills, critical writing skills, and computer hacking skills. But let’s be honest about how what we learn goes in one ear and out the other. By the time we need to use these skills, like for a management consulting interview, a law school essay, or to outwit Goro at the end of a vigorous game of Mortal Kombat, they’re completely gone. On the bright side, Penn offers seniors help in the form of…nothing. We’re boned.

Clearly, the start of school isn’t just a hard time for freshmen. Seniors also have plenty on their plates. Administrators: consider this a call to action: NSO is great for the freshmen, but the seniors are in dire need of orientation, too.

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