Bateman: College challenges not just in coursework

By Oliver Bateman

After a long summer of total inactivity, returning to school requires readjusting to the tedium of the academic routine. After a long summer of total inactivity, returning to school requires readjusting to the tedium of the academic routine. Few experiences can equal the challenge of college, which requires an ability to balance the demands of sleeping in excessively with the desire to eat five $5 pizzas at 3 a.m.

Students are bound to struggle with a schedule that now includes slightly more activity. Four classes per week is a burden, and there is really no good way to fit them around nine hours of “Call of Duty 3” and multiple viewings of the DVD outtake reel from the latest hot college comedy.

If you schedule your classes in the morning, you have to fight fatigue. Classes scheduled after lunch will surely find you too stuffed with french fries and nacho cheese sauce to concentrate, and night classes? My goodness, there’s no way you can be expected to stay up so late.

You will also have to reintegrate yourself into the social scene. Thanks to networking sites like Facebook, you probably have followed your friends’ goings-on during the summer. But now that you are back on campus, you need to make it to all their big soirées and bashes — or at least click on the “Attending” option on their e-vites, which is pretty much the same as attending the real event.

Your college girlfriend or boyfriend will require some attention, too. You might have left your significant other in the lurch while you were gallivanting around your hometown, but now you will have to do some serious relationship maintenance. He or she will want time together, which means less “Call of Duty 3” and more long walks through museums, parks and conservatories. Sometimes your significant other will even request a meal that costs more than a $5 pizza, which can be a real strain on that beer budget.

If you worked a job during the summer, you probably didn’t have to do any homework. Fortunately, most homework just consists of reading a bunch of pages in those expensive textbooks that Wikipedia has made obsolete. If you play your cards right, you can find almost everything you need to know on Wikipedia, including the answers to old tests and the truth about Lady Gaga (spoiler alert: Lady Gaga is a woman!).

If you are returning from a study abroad program in some distant land, though, your readjustment might be a bit easier. You probably spent the summer semester partying hearty, making occasional appearances in your classes and taking photos of historic buildings. In that case, just cut out the part about taking photos of old buildings and you will be ready to roll.

Of course, if this is your last semester, all bets are off. You need to treat the experience like your farewell tour. Remind your friends that you are about to enter the “real world,” which differs from school or summer vacation in that its duration is indefinite and its requirements for graduation are largely unknown. Mention frequently that you feel very old and want to get started on the rest of your life, then begin hurriedly applying to graduate and professional schools when hard economic times postpone the rest of that life.

At the rate things are going, your college routine might last for five or six more years. During that time, clothing styles will change and pop culture staples like Lady Gaga and that eminently quotable hot college comedy will become the stuff of VH1’s “I Love the … ” series. But pizza will probably still be available in the $5 price range, so don’t worry about going hungry.

Oliver Bateman is a career student and lifelong learner who founded the Moustache University of America Online. You can read all about its course offerings at If you really like the site, you should consider putting a ring on it.