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OSU will stay with you long after you join the real world

As I write this final column, I am one week from graduating college.

An era has ended (not just for Jim Tressel), and another is beginning.

I’ve been counting down the years, months, weeks and days until next Sunday for the last decade of my life. Most days, I find myself staring at the clock in anticipation of class ending. But last Thursday, after my final class, I couldn’t immediately walk out of the Journalism Building. Instead, I wandered the hallways, staring into the newsroom like a creep and loathing the thought of never returning. Like many of my peers, being in school is all I’ve ever known.

I guess it just hit me.

It’s time to grow up. Crap.

Does this mean I can’t make hats out of newspapers for my colleagues, anymore?

Perhaps, we all take for granted the privileges of being a college student. Out in the “real” world, there are no summer breaks. It’s not acceptable to show up wearing sweatpants, just because you had a late night. You can’t spontaneously decide to take a break and lay out in the sun during the middle of a weekday or skip your first class for a few extra hours of sleep.

My biggest question of all is whether life will still be fun after college. It may sound silly, but I think it’s a pretty legitimate concern.

Next thing I know, I’ll be telling kids, “back on back, seat on seat” from behind the wheel of a mini-van, buying 10-pound bags of cat food for the strays and complaining about the music these damn kids listen to these days.

Wait, I do that last one now.

It’s begun.

But, while I’m still an expert on something, I would like to give some advice on the Ohio State experience for the youngsters.

First of all, drink coffee. Don’t tell me you “don’t like the taste” because I know many of you force Natty Light down your throats, especially at Woodfest. During the early months, I actually added chocolate syrup to make a Cup O’ Joe bearable. Now, I’m an addict sans chocolate. As it turns out, it’s possible to survive on bagels and coffee for days.

To the commuters parking on West Campus, use the Carmack 4 stop. You have a much better chance of nabbing a seat on the bus, instead of watching it cruise by packed at the Carmack 1 stop. And stop driving down the first row.

There are not going to be any open spots. Get out of denial, save yourself some time, and just start in the third or fourth row.

Buy books online. I personally prefer Amazon and always choose those in “fair condition.” Be honest — you’re hardly going to open it anyway. I wish someone would have told me this freshman year before Barnes and Noble had their way with me.

Ratemyprofessors.com is legitimate – except for the hotness guide symbolized by the chili pepper. Some people must have really low standards.

Sit at the front of class. Well, at least for the first two weeks so that you can decide if the lectures are worth attending.

And of course, all of that other cliché stuff about not procrastinating (which is actually totally feasible if you don’t mind one or two hours of sleep).

But most of all, enjoy it. OSU is one of the biggest and best universities in the nation, and the name on your diploma alone will raise some eyebrows ­— or at least that’s what I’m hoping. The Lantern has gone out in style this year, and I will never forget these last few months in the newsroom or on this campus.

Growing up is inevitable, I’ve realized. But no matter how old (or presumably mature) I get, there is nothing that will stop me from properly responding to “O-H!”

“I-O!” now and forever.

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