All right kiddies, it’s time to listen up and pay attention. I’m only going to say this once. All the learning you’ll ever need isn’t going to come from between the pages of that enormous chemistry book or that little “Guide to Michigan” you got at Orientation. It isn’t going to come from the classes and parties you’re going to attend either. Nope, I’m talking about that unsuspecting agent that will soon be a fixture in your dorm room.

Paul Wong

Boys and girls, it’s time to make acquaintance with the idiot box. The lesson plan has changed and television has all the answers you’ll ever need to make it through your next few years here. We’re talking a bona fide mass of untapped intellect at your fingertips. So sit back and relax, while Ms. Captain Video-in-training tries to teach you a thing or two.

Lesson No. 1: Being a doctor or lawyer is boring. Sure you might make the big bucks, but is a few measly little dollars worth a lifetime of monotony? Grow up. College isn’t about your parents’ dreams or silly little fascinations you had as a child. It’s a time where you can stretch your proverbial wings and find something to fit your quirky personality. So for all the fans of the currently lackluster “E. R.” or “The Practice,” this one’s for you. Take a tip from HBO: Weird is in. The hottest new career to date … Undertaking. So maybe it isn’t for everyone but making time with the dead is in fashion. Ask CBS (the supposedly “dead” network catering to millions of elderly everywhere) if you can breathe life from the dead. The new top rated drama isn’t the former George Clooney vehicle but “C.S.I.,” which is spawning quite a following and a few more spin-offs (read: “Crossing Jordan” and “C.S.I.: Miami”).

Of course, if working with the dead doesn’t suit you, I’d suggest another career making its way up the ranks – any highly-classified position with the CIA. Still a bit out of your league? A degree in psychology (one of the more populated of out concentration at the ‘U’) may turn you into the next Dr. Melfi. Joining the film and video program may land you a spot in the next installment of “Project Greenlight,” where you too can experience the pratfalls of Hollyweird. Even political science and Education are getting their due thanks to shows like “The West Wing” and “Boston Public.” Whatever you decide just remember your whole life is ahead of you, and even though you may live your life with a “Greed is good” outlook now, even the best of them come back home to start all over again. Ask “Ed.”

Lesson No. 2: Finding the love of your life is more fun if you do it in front of a national audience. Please don’t ask me to explain it, but Reality TV is still going strong thanks to a bunch of loveless contestant-driven shows. From “Temptation Island” to this season’s hit “The Bachelor,” couples are made, and of course, broken up by very simple means. And people are flocking to these shows. Personally, I have my own aversion to them, but you’ll find that even the most studious of students can be caught talking about the latest episode of “The Bachelor 2” during your calculus class. So if you’re dating someone, looking for someone or just plain playing the field, I’d suggest forgetting about the next frat party and fill out an application instead. Course, I’d only suggest this for those who are telegenically enhanced … or if you have a million dollars to spare.

Lesson No. 3: Women are a hot commodity. Before you say “duh,” I’m not talking about the guy-to-girl ratio on campus or the hoochie pant-wearing girls at the bar. I’m talking about girls kicking some serious ass. Blasting onto the scene to join the likes of “Buffy” is the hottest co-ed in town: Ms. Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner). “Alias” is popularizing a ton of female-led series that will give male superheroes like Clark Kent a run for their money. Hell, even Rachel brought life back to “Friends,” literally.

And the new TV goddess to lead the disciples doesn’t have a big, fat “O” in front of her name. Nope, the new TV queen is a little woman with a big business sense and she comes from the other side of the Atlantic. Sharon Osbourne is stateside and she’s kicking some f**kin’ Yankee ass. Fresh from a word-of-mouth surprise hit on MTV, where she let loose with a ham and a middle finger before the cameras, Sharon is upping the ante for a second season and a multi-million dollar book deal. No one else in history has gotten MTV to kiss the ass of someone over the age of 30.

Lesson No. 4: Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Sure I could turn this into an homage to “Tales from the Crypt,” but I’d prefer to make this my closing statement. Even the best writers and casts could never prepare you for the ups and downs you are about to experience for the seemingly short time you have at this fine institution. If you were dorky enough to put together a college movie/TV marathon for yourself, you’ll find that frat parties aren’t straight out of “Animal House,” people don’t usually follow a crush all the way to college a la “Felicity” and they sure as hell find the time to go to class unlike most of the characters in these gawd-awful interpretations.

Television can be a great guide if you choose to let it. It can also be your best escape for that looming villain graduates such as myself like to call “real life.” In a world where you can witness history live on TV, both the good and the bad, my best advice to all of you is to take your ups and downs with pride, laugh at yourself a lot, get involved in places beyond your dorm room walls and remember the precious time you have here. If all else fails, you can always write it better later.

– Jennifer Fogel is a former Arts editor who owes most of her accomplishments to the Alliance. By the time you read this, she has hopefully found a job worth writing about. You can reach her at fogelj@umich.edu

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