College advice

My college experience was a trove of one-to-grow-on screw-ups and inadvertent successes. Please take that into account when reading these tips for high-school graduates:

Get good grades—but not that good. Don't lock yourself in a room just to sustain a 4.0 GPA, which is what I earned my first year. But don't crash and burn with a 1.70 junior year (yikes!). There is such thing as a middle ground (it's a 3.35).

Internships are overrated. Get a damn job. I regret never interning during undergrad—but my three part-time jobs offered richer experience and memories. And actual money.

Definitely, absolutely go abroad. I repeat: Go. Abroad. You can even teach in places like France or South Korea upon graduation. Do it. For as long as possible.

Choose a major that will get you paid. I've racked up significant units in film production, art history, photography, English, comparative literature and political science. Those hikes are lovely, the scenery inspiring. But I urge you to take the trail that ends at the pot of gold. You can always register for archery or piano courses on weekends—when you're a friggin' baller!

Ditch a final. You think I remember that modernist lit final from 1999? Hell no. I remember lying to my professor about rescheduling because of a cousin's wedding, ditching the test and flying to Austin with my buddy from New Zealand!

Get a radio show. College-radio people are some of the greatest folk you'll ever encounter. Tune in. Volunteer. And, if you're lucky, maybe you'll get that primo midnight to 3 a.m. time slot. Play a ton of Pavement and Elliott Smith for the 18-year-old me.

Live cheap and take out as few loans as possible. This may be hopeless in today's UC/CSU system.

Good luck!