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Stepping out of your comfort zone: Isolate yourself - The Pitt News

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Stepping out of your comfort zone: Isolate yourself

By Columnist | Mariam Shalaby

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How you fare in your first year of college is pretty much a matter of life or death. As a seasoned junior, I have taken it upon myself to craft a flawless, three-part guide for your success as a Pitt student. You can thank me later.

Part One: Academics

When picking classes, keep your career plans — and only your career plans — in mind. Statistics have shown there is a 99 percent probability* you will go into the same career you intended to when you entered college. So only choose classes directly relevant to your career goals.

For example, if you want to be an accountant, don’t even look in the direction of that Chinese poetry class.

Take it from me  — I’m double majoring, regrettably, in natural sciences and music — you won’t learn much from a course of study outside your field. Stay focused. It’s not like this will be one of the few times you’re in an environment that encourages you to explore new things and challenges your way of thinking.

I’m telling you — liberal arts educations, gen ed requirements and fields of interest that don’t make buckets of money are overrated.

Now, eager first year student, when you jostle into the Chevron Science Center — room 150 — for your first general chemistry class, don’t forget to race for a front row seat. The seat you choose on your first day could determine your entire future.

Say hello to the classmate sitting next to you, and make sure you tell them your major, very loudly. It defines you just as much as the color of your eyes and your opinions on capitalism and sushi. Don’t forget that.

Before you know it, it’s time for your first college midterm — how exciting.

When the doors open, get in there and sweep the competition. If all else fails, just fill your Scantron with option “C.” It works every time.

When you leave, discuss every question with your classmates. It’s especially confidence-boosting if you continue to think about the questions you got wrong for the next week or so.

Part Two: Extracurriculars

Ah, the student activities fair. Get in and get out — don’t linger. And remember to only look for the clubs that will bolster your resumé.

Oh, look. Cultural clubs.

Avoid them. You don’t want to appear un-American to graduate schools and employers. The risk of facing a prejudiced interviewer and discrimination for having differing cultural ties is far too high to afford whatever horizon-broadening information you might gain.

An enthusiastic peer, part of a political organization, is handing you a leaflet on liberty in North Korea? You think this is interesting? Snap out of it.

Smile and take the leaflet to be polite, but don’t get involved — you don’t want to be pegged as politically pigeonholed. What if your opinions change? How embarrassing that would be. It’s better to appear neutral.

An a capella group is recruiting? You can sing — and well, too — but these guys do public singing grams on Valentine’s Day. How mortifying. Not cute. Stay far, far away.

Part Three: Socialization

So those friends of your’s — you’re not feeling so comfortable around your bottom-of-the-barrel comrades, huh? Well too bad, you’re stuck. Most first years aren’t very eager to meet new people, so it’s best to just keep to yourself and the few friends you were lucky enough to snag during Orientation Week.

That woman who sits next to you in chemistry? She might be wearing a shirt bearing the name of your favorite boy band, but don’t be fooled, she’s not your friend. She’s just your competition. And like all competition, she must be defeated, swiftly.

Frankly, there’s not much you could learn from other students around Pitt anyway. You wouldn’t want to open your mind and challenge your thinking or anything like that. Trust me, college is about staying as comfortable as possible.

Make sure you keep your circle small and exclusive. And keep it limited to people you can benefit from — If they can’t give you anything tangible, say goodbye.

So, there you have it, freshies. The definitive guide to being the most successful you can be as a Pitt student. Follow my advice exactly, and you’ll be golden.

Don’t email me though. Just because I wrote this advice column doesn’t mean I want to answer your questions or talk to you personally. My email is for professional use only. But I digress — best of luck!

*Another piece of advice: don’t take the time to look up accurate statistics, just make something up. The internet is a huge place, there’s undoubtedly some piece of research out there by someone that will support your claim.

Mariam Shalaby primarily writes on social change and foreign culture for The Pitt News.

Write to her at mas561@pitt.edu.

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Stepping out of your comfort zone: Isolate yourself