Once upon a time, there was a mystical, magical land where beer grew on trees, boys only wore pants and bowties that looked like the Easter bunny threw up on them and textbooks, cigarettes, microwaveable burritos, alcoholic beverages and other pleasantries could be purchased with special currency that magically refilled itself each semester (or with one desperate call to Mom).
This special land was where young idiots from New Jersey (like myself) would go to endure rigorous training to become successful accountants, surgeons, journalists and other boring professions that we swore in third grade we would never succumb to. (If only my plans to marry Chuck Norris and star in our own Broadway musical had prevailed.)
This pedagogical boot camp was protected by an invisible force field that prevented communication with the outside world. Yes, I'm referring to Richmond, not Hogwarts (although there are some Muggles who can be spotted playing the occasional Saturday game of Quidditch on the IM fields [no, but seriously]).
The Richmond student's detachment from society usually begins during the first week of school, which can somewhat resemble the post-apocalypse.
For the first few days, food is sparse in your apartment, your living quarters are barren and communication is limited. Your wireless Internet connection is down, you have no cell phone service indoors and the August Richmond sun is too harsh to remain outside.
And even if you had service, you already lost your iPhone, SpiderCard and wallet. Free beer and a few stale pretzel rods are the only sustenance available.
By the time the first week of classes is over, you're already behind and your parents have contacted the dean to check if you're still alive because your wallet was found at a two-in-one barbecue and tattoo shop in West Virginia.
Even if the above sequence doesn't happen to you verbatim, it's easy to get behind and lose track of the outside world at this school.
Sunday through Friday (fine -- Sunday through Thursday) most of our time is spent in classes or in the library. By Thursday, cabin fever has reduced our minds to a puddle of soggy Froot Loops and the only way to prevent permanent insanity is to claptrap and hogwash at the lodges, consume large amounts of Chick-fil-A and be with our loved ones.
The last thing we want to do in our treasured free time is read about road-side bombings in Afghanistan or check out how the markets did that day in China.
This of course doesn't apply to everyone. Some are avid news consumers. But for a lot of us, the news is at the bottom of our list of priorities (no, your Facebook newsfeed isn't "news" ... nope, neither is TMZ).
And for most, the following information isn't a shock, but in case you don't want your Richmond bubble burst, now is the time to stick your fingers in your ears, start rocking back and forth and sing "Lalalalalalala."
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This summer a wise bird told me that the most underrated problem with college job and internship applicants is that they don't keep up with the news. He said there is no better way to impress than being able to aptly relate current events to your field of study during an interview or while networking.
Four years and a $200,000 education is probably not a bad start to insuring yourself against reverting to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. But, a degree without knowledge of its practical application is like a writer without a muse, a heart without a beat, a Sigma Chi without a lax pinny.
Unfortunately, the world after college is not all Silly Bandz and Four Lokos. So, in case you think Hurricane Earl is a new mixed drink at Mexico's or that the Tea Party is something that involves scones and Arnold Palmers, I would recommend taking a journalism class if you can fit it in your schedule during your time left at Richmond.
Although having the news shoved down your throat daily isn't the most fun activity, you'll be forced to get into the routine of reading the paper or checking it online (because otherwise you'll probably fail the class -- no pressure). And, regardless of your major, you'll be informed about current events that relate to your field of study and have a basic knowledge of current information not related to your field of study.
And, if you're an upperclassman and don't have time to take a journalism class and haven't read an inch of news since ... well ... ever? There are a few options: you could succumb to a life of destitution and misery and begin bartering your textbooks for sets of knives to sell door-to-door. (Please skip my apartment. I'm sure your knives are very nice and sharp, but we already happen to have some.)
The least time-consuming method would probably be to get the newspaper regularly and rub it against your head so that the information transfers into your brain via osmosis. This has a zero percent success rate and is probably about as useful to your career as your bellybutton, but amusing to watch, nonetheless.
Or, you could devote a third of the time you spend on Facebook (probably playing Farmville) to reading the news. After all, some news is good news.
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