Last Saturday, Aug 7, was the big day. We had the seventh annual HUGS for THUGS party, and good times were had by all. About 45 rising freshmen showed up to the picnic, in line with previous years. Besides myself, we had four other contributors: Emma Templeton ’13, Frankie Wong ’13, Christian Strong ’09 (all three of them HUGS alums, and Christian showing up for a record fourth time) and Michael Oshima ’09. Big props to them for giving of their time, woohoo!
After a light lunch, the recent grads and current students got down to the business of imparting their wisdom to the rising freshmen. Without getting too long-winded, here are some highlights:
Academics: Why it’s important to pick easy classes for your first year and how to do it. Why it’s paramount to get to know your profs, and some simple ways of doing that. Working smart vs. working hard. Balance. Wisdom. Picking guts. The curve is your friend. Gunner, Savvy, Slacker. Finding the superstar profs and taking their classes. Freshman seminars. The classes that will really matter and serve you long after you graduate.
Extracurriculars: Pick 2 or 3 and go deep; do not go bananas. The Paradox of Choice: too much choice actually makes you miserable. Some really awesome campus organizations. Starting your own student group.
Logistics: Pack winter clothes as if you’re going on a 9-month ski trip. Get a bike. With a bike lock.
Social life: Why your education outside class is sometimes more important than the one inside class. The missing parts of a Harvard education. Avoid drugs — all of them. Guidelines for alcohol consumption (buzzed, okay; sloshed, not okay). Talk to people. Party Rules for Girls (hint: stick together). The scoop on Final Clubs. Sex in college. Always use protection.
Career planning: How to think like an entrepreneur — and start making some bucks in your first 2 months at Harvard.
Since under half of the LA-area freshmen get to attend HUGS every year, that means that most of them don’t get to hear all the good stuff. And that’s a crying shame. The good news is, after 6 years, I finally buckled down and compiled all of the best information from HUGS into an audiobook CD, which you can see in the upper right of this here blog here. ‘Twas hard work, aye, and I’m glad you can be the beneficiaries.
So if you couldn’t attend the HUGS party, here’s what I have to say to you: This is required reading. Get the CD immediately. Yes, I made the damn thing myself, so it may seem shamelessly self-serving for me to promote it. But your econ prof is going to assign his own $200 textbook to you, too, and this is far more important stuff (and a tenth the price).
And guys — I’m telling you that this is super duper important stuff. It’s everything I wish someone had told me when I was a freshman at Harvard, and it’s information I hope every freshman in this country gets in his or her hands before they start college. There are too many kids out there getting their lives seriously derailed over a bad grade, a failed relationship or something stupid happening at a party, and I just don’t want you to be that person. Think of this as vaccination against large-scale failure: a small investment of foresight now to prevent catastrophe later on.
If you did attend the HUGS party, here’s what I have to say to you: To most of who got the CD, awesome. Now listen to it — several times. Lotsa stuff in the CD didn’t get covered at the event. And if you didn’t get a copy, get one. Did you take notes? Nope, you didn’t. Do you remember everything that we said? Not possible, since I wrote the whole damn thing and even I don’t remember it all. And I want this information to be burned into your psyche forever and all time. So do yourself a favor and get the CD.
Below are some of your classmates sharing the best pieces of advice they heard at the event. May you find it mega-useful.