When I was at the grocery store this afternoon, a group of four college guys were stocking up for what appeared to be a college roommate barbecue–hot dogs, buns, charcoal, chips, generic brand ketchup and mustard, and of course, (very) cheap beer.
When the elected accountant of the group did a rough calculation and told his friends they didn't have enough money for everything in the future feast, one of them–and I swear I'm not making this up–made a quick executive decision and said,
"Dude, that charcoal is nine bucks! Put it back. Let's just microwave the hot dogs."
That, my friends, is college ingenuity at work.
If you're a high school student right now, you're probably worried about your GPA. You're probably worried about your SAT scores and your AP tests and whether or not your dream school is going to say yes. It's a lot of pressure and it can sometimes be easy to forget how much you have to look forward to.
But someday, none of those things are going to matter anymore because you'll be in college. And even if you don't end up at the school that you're sure today is the only one for you, you'll still get to do things that you talk about 5 and 10 and 30 years later.
Not too long from now, those college guys I saw at the store will be grown-ups with jobs and families and real responsibilities. And they'll look back fondly at their time in college. They'll laugh when they remember how they could get a whole weekend's worth of meals (and beer) for under 20 bucks and be completely happy. Great college memories are created everywhere from Harvard to the tiny college you haven't even heard of yet.
By the way, two of these guys had sweatshirts identifying them as attending the University of California — Irvine, one of those schools that rejects a lot of qualified applicants. Don't assume that smart kids don't enjoy roommate barbecues and cheap beer in college.
Don't worry. Whether or not a barbecue like that is your idea of a great time, everything you're doing will eventually add up to a great college experience you'll remember.