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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

"Ketchup" season has begun. You've already had your first exam, and it was probably a bad idea to go drinking the night before. Unfortunately, the rest of your fall semester will be spent catching up from the work you skipped.

Don't worry, freshmen - we've all done it. Fumbling for a B or worse is part of the college experience. Even if you didn't screw around prior to your first test, an implosion is sometimes all but unavoidable. Until you get used to the difficulty level of exams at UF, as well as each professor's individual style of torture, learn to accept failure and move forward.

Stress is an illusion. There are no bad situations - only bad planning and bad reactions. This being said, there are a lot of avoidable actions that will save you misery in the long run. If you haven't yet turned to the crossword, here is the official list of the most toxic college timewasters.

No. 5: Weekly sitcoms. As enthralling as American Idol may be, the time spent thinking about the show on Mondays, watching the show on Tuesdays and talking about the show on Wednesdays could be better used to set up a huge dorm prank. Besides, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox are for your grandparents. Broadcast has been dead since the second season of "Step by Step."

No. 4: Getting a job. Of course it's nice to have beer money, but working for it is simply out of the question. If you're already desperate for study time, a job will eat up 15 or more hours per week. Plus, your employer will likely schedule you to work when you're supposed to be at a "Grey's Anatomy" party.

No. 3: Food. This is the most potentially deadly of all timewasters. The time and money you spend on food this year will both triple when you finally buy a gym membership to burn off the chub. Take it from someone who nearly tripled the Freshman 15 - it takes a long time to get rid of the unsightly scars caused by french fries. For further proof, look outside the Marston Science Library.

No. 2: Social networking sites. Like most of us, you likely grew up on AOL Instant Messenger. When you finished up high school, you branched out from instant messaging to either MySpace or Facebook, depending on your demographic. Most MySpace users will only ever graduate from high school, but Facebook has the potential to keep us from finishing college. Keeping up with what's going on in your news feed is more difficult than keeping up with the number of celebrities in rehab.

No. 1: The two-hour block you scheduled in between two of your classes. Learning to avoid chitchat and aimless wandering during breaks is one of the keys toward collegiate success. Utilizing seemingly lost fragments of time is the most proactive step you can take toward a decent grade. Don't bother taking the bus home and back. Stay on campus to study, and you'll learn to avoid a majority of distractions.

Once you develop decent study habits, you'll find plenty of time for fun. For now, avoiding the media, money and even friends is the only way to salvage the first marks before they wind up on your transcript. If you can't occasionally sacrifice these things for the bigger picture, you'd better start making a MySpace page. You'll need a strong network to land a job without a degree.

Kyle Cox is a junior majoring in marketing and anthropology. His column appears on Tuesdays.

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