Welcome to the university. We’re pleased to have such a smart and accomplished group of first-year honors students as members of our academic community. You will already have gone through orientation and received information regarding how to contact the IT help desk, set up appointments with advisors, use interlibrary loan, etc.
The purpose of this memo is to help you get a clue. We recognize that most of your were too busy taking advanced math classes and memorizing long swaths of Atlas Shrugged during high school to have time to develop much in the way of social skills, but remedial action is possible. To that end, we’d like to offer the following pieces of advice:
- When you are in an honors-only seminar, it is okay to indulge your sense of intellectual superiority and will help you form social bonds with your honors program mates; this does not hold true, however, for classes in which you are thrown in with the hoi polloi of ordinary students. For instance, it is a bad idea to announce loudly on the second day of your psychology class that you are in the honors program. Your fellow students think honors students are spoiled and given advantages not available to other students. Your instructor has probably taught an honors course and so has direct experience of the supersaturated adolescent arrogance endemic to the program. You are going to spend the rest of the semester trying to climb out of the hole you just dug for yourself.
- When your first-year English professor asks you to do an in-class writing exercise and afterward asks the class what sorts of things they learned, don’t shoot your hand up and respond, “Nothing.” In that same class, when your prof assigns the first essay and discusses various possible rhetorical stances and structures, don’t comment that you find too much structure stifles your creativity. If you make this error, you are going to have to be as profound as Wittgenstein and as masterful a stylist as Conrad for the rest of the term because your papers are going to be graded with a stiletto.
- It is true that some students on this campus wear their pants at a ridiculously low point on their hips, but that does not mean that you should wear yours north of your navel. Loosen your belt, unclench your jaw and stop rolling your eyes, and enjoy yourself. You can write the Great American Novel or discover the solution to the world’s energy problems next week.