Life Story Bad Time Posted September 14, 2020

I knew something was wrong before I even finished enrolling at the University of Akron.

I was at the tail-end of my senior year in high school in 2006, visiting Schrank Hall to take a few placement tests. One of those tests gauged my knowledge on computers, but it was based on Windows 98/Me instead of XP/Vista. For you younger folks reading this, there is a gigantic difference between those operating systems. I didn't score high enough to test my way out of Basic Computing 101, so I attempted the test again. I ended up with roughly the same score, so I asked for one more try. When they wouldn't allow it, I took it up with the technology department. I just couldn't let this go. I was maintaining my high school's website and in charge of their TV studio, and I was about to be stuffed into a room full of people who couldn't even turn a computer on. The department eventually saw things in my favor and updated their placement test, but only after I had finished the course. I wasn't compensated anything for my trouble.

I wasn't joking. These books were in the computer lab.

That's basically my college experience in a nutshell. I was putting off writing this because I wanted to give this place every benefit of the doubt. Maybe things are different now. Maybe other people come here and simply have a great time. Maybe I'm the one who actually sucks. But in my ten years since walking across the stage, my accomplishments have not amounted to jack squat and the university itself has faced a significant amount of setbacks. Here's a good lesson for you kids out there: If you have a sneaking feeling you're in for a bad time, and you're already tempted to cut your losses... you probably should.

Lord knows I came here for a good time. After thoroughly enjoying band all throughout high school, I figured that college band would be a no-brainer. College marching band, more specifically. How wrong I was. It was much more time consuming, physically strenuous, and emotionally draining than I ever anticipated. Any fun I would have had was lost the moment I was deemed unfit to march the pregame show. It didn't matter how much I practiced; I was treated like a liability and was constantly called out and yelled at for every... single... thing. It was a thankless affair, but at least I can say I marched halftime at a Browns/Steelers game.

I flitted in and out of various groups, with them but never really part of them. I visited the game room often and even dabbled in the philosophy club a bit. But I was conditioned by movies and television to expect an Animal House lifestyle. I expected to have the time of my life, make the best friends I'd ever have, pull outlandish pranks, and become a better and more confident version of myself. That was the plan, and I assumed that happened for everyone in college.

Of course, that didn't happen for me. The fact is that I don't keep close ties with anyone I know from college. I don't check up on them on social media. I don't see them at weddings or gatherings. And that's mainly because I didn't really have many friends in college. I made maybe two or three tops. This didn't make sense because I had no problems making friends in high school. The idea of being left alone on the dance floor never occurred to me, which made it all the more jarring when it actually happened. I was not prepared for it at all.

My admission issues were merely a symptom to a much bigger problem; This place was rife with questionable business practices. Surely you've heard about President Scarborough and how he used school funds to renovate his home (and buy a real expensive jar of olives). Surely you can recall when former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel got offered a job that didn't even exist. But that was after my time. Things really started to derail when the guy before him, Proenza, decided to Aspen-ify the place. As new buildings kept popping up, funding for programs and staff were kept to a minimum. I know this because I also worked here as a custodian before getting laid off.

As a student, I've had to personally fight back overcharges to my tuition every semester. I had to fight my advising department for slapping academic holds on me for the most asinine reasons. I had to fight every day to just to get a parking spot. And that's pretty much how my next few years muddled out until graduation eventually came around. I remember being very happy to get out into the real world, probably because I didn't have an neon-lit fever dream about it the way I did for college. I spent so much of my youth trying to achieve the ideal version of myself instead of just accepting myself for my faults and moving on.

And I think that's one of the most important things I've learned after college. It's easy to feel like damaged goods when nothing is going your way and nobody wants to talk to you. If this is you, I want you to know -- things will get better. Keep your head on straight, and this world will eventually open up to you. You will find your niche. You will have more places to go. You will find new friends and have more room for error than school ever allowed. That much I can promise you.

But yeah -- this place served its purpose, and I’m never going back. Check that off.