Kenny Chesney once said, “A hundred years goes faster than you think, so don’t blink.”
Congratulations, freshmen. You have completed the first of the best four, five, six, or maybe even seven years of your life. Believe it or not, the best is yet to come. Some of you may have completed the year with a GPA just a few decimal points above zero and a liver on the verge of suicide. You must have spent your first year experiencing college’s greatest vices. The rest of you may still be the proud owner of a respectable GPA and a liver prepared for anything penny pitchers night throws your way. Congratulations to you, too, for you will have a much easier path to graduation.
I spend most of my time writing articles detailing how ridiculously stupid some of you can be. For being places of higher learning, colleges and universities produce some of the most bizarre stories to hit the Internet, and, quite often, freshmen are the subjects of said articles. For once, however, I decided I would like to educate rather than ridicule. I have seen many promising young freshmen derailed after just two semesters, and the track back to a diploma is a rough and challenging ride.
If you’re still reading this, I will assume you were a freshman this past year, and that you are allowed to return to school next semester–an admirable feat.
Your time of insane drunken debauchery is over. However, don’t think for a second that I am condemning you to a life of sobriety. What I mean by this is that the freshman experience is over, and it is now time for you to learn how to balance academics and alcohol. No longer are you allowed to simply black out multiple times a week and ignore the classes in between. No longer are you allowed to be a drunken jackass at mixers and parties. The tolerance–and possibly social–excuses are done. You are now a seasoned drinker and someone who should theoretically know how to control himself, regardless of a lack of inhibitions.
The main reason I mention academics and reducing alcohol consumption is not to impress sororities or kiss your university’s ass, but rather to further progress your own chapter into a state that creates envy across the nation.
Freshman year consists of a great deal of experimentation. Regardless of what you claim, you most likely never drank to the excess that you reached during your freshman year. Most of you have also never been allowed to skip a class. I’d venture to guess that many of you skipped more classes than you attended. We all did it. It teaches you, whether through success or consequence, what your limits and boundaries are. Unfortunately, that year is now over.
You were given a bid because your chapter undoubtedly viewed you as a viable candidate for brotherhood, and as someone who could further better the chapter. After spending one of your semesters as essentially slave labor, you’ve become fully active brothers and are expected to contribute. No one likes that brother who gets freshman drunk weekly and contributes nothing to the chapter. He garners no respect and is viewed as a liability. Don’t be that guy. Realize you are now older and are expected to spend the rest of you days educating and molding younger brothers into responsible, intelligent men. Don’t let booze or illegal substances distract you from the true reason you are in a fraternity.
The best way to make that impact is through being a member of your chapter’s executive board or the head of a committee. At most, your pledge class has two more semesters to dick around before inevitably taking at least partial control of your chapter. Now is the time to ask questions and dig deeper into the areas that interest you. Set yourself up for a future leadership position with the actions you make today. The older brothers have already spent years learning and leading. They won’t be around much longer, but if you take the initiative, their knowledge can continue indefinitely and help better the chapter through brothers who will be pledges even after you graduate.
Overall, just be active. Contribute regularly. A chapter doesn’t improve without a dedicated group of up-and-comers leading the way. That is now you. It’s time to get your academics in order, understand and learn about your position, and infuse your best efforts into the daily governing of the chapter. Your goal should never be to leave a chapter in the state that you inherited it, but rather to leave it in a state of national pride and envy. Whether you do it for yourself or others, you should realize that ultimately, your actions now have the chance to affect your chapter decades down the road.
Time is flying, freshmen. Your time to shine is coming fast. Be prepared, be educated, and buckle up, because the time of your life has just begun. Enjoy it and regret nothing.