You asked the appropriate questions and penciled in the right bubbles, and you survived high school. Your intensely unique identity — and you are sure it's intensely unique — has been incubating within, saving its reveal for the gloriously progressive environment of college. No more labels, no more cutthroat social branding, no more clique-hopping to find the milieu that best suits you. College will carve out your true self. You just have to show up.
But a funny thing happens as you begin to navigate the halls of higher learning. You begin to see repeats — people who are too easy to categorize, who make you think, "Oh, so you're one of those ..." Yes, even the college system has its robotic cogs. And the longer you stay, the more types you discover. There's the eighth-year senior, who refuses to graduate and looks uncomfortably older than everyone else. There are the husband hunters and the East-bred political types and the super-duper-go-getters, who seem to be involved in every club, group, charity or psychological experiment that the university offers.
But, for starters, I've found there to be five most, well, typical, types. They're the ones you're guaranteed to meet daily, and although they have different faces and license numbers, everything else about them seems the same.
They'll be sitting behind you on the bus. They'll be sleeping in front of you in the classroom. One of them might be your future roommate, one of them might start dating your future roommate, one of them might even be you! They're the five people you'll meet in college, and here's how you'll identify them (warning: stereotyping ahead):
Polo shirt (often with the collar popped)
Athletic shorts or Lacoste Bermuda shorts
Common question: "Bro, where you work out?" (Uttered before asking if you work out.)
Academic habits: Chooses simple classes and rides the curve wherever it leads.
Often found: In front of the TV on Tuesday at 2 p.m., either drinking or nursing a hangover.
iPod playlist: Several workout playlists, one for each day of the week (including Rush, Pitbull, Phish and, secretly, Taylor Swift).
Key words: "Totally," "shredded" and lots of sports metaphor.
Pros: Dude will keep you grounded in the real, giving you "the common touch."
Cons: You will start to answer to "brah" — or anything that sounds like it. He can bruise your knuckles with his fist bump.
How to bluff: Tell him about the last time you blacked out on a yacht after hooking up with a sporto's girlfriend.
Glasses with non-prescription lenses
Notebook full of musings under arm
Common question: "What does it all mean?"
Academic habits: Does fairly well, despite irritating professors with monologues and contrarianism. Didn't get into Princeton because his application essays were "too controversial."
Often found: In the library, poring over tomes of philosophy and beat fiction or developing theoretical fixes for every economical problem and international conflict.
iPod playlist: Jack Kerouac Reads On the Road. A lot of bands you haven't heard of.
Key words: "Anthropology," "semiotics," "ennui," "ignorant."
Pros: Will tell you his philosophy of life.
Cons: Will tell you his philosophy of life.
How to bluff: Share your plans for a post-college trip to India under the influence of DMT and Nietzsche. Ask to borrow his copy of The Stranger and comment on his notes.
Parents' credit card
Grande, skinny, no-whip vanilla latte
Bag emblazoned with sorority letters
Hard Tail yoga pants (though never seen coming to or from yoga)
Common questions: "can I put that on my card?" or [in awestruck tone] "You do your own laundry?"
Academic habits: Attends class for purely social reasons. Otherwise skips to go shopping for sunglasses, art supplies or, if it's rush season, friends.
Often found: Traveling in packs, typically three to 18 deep.
iPod playlist: A whole playlist of Adele remixes, Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars, Eminem and the Script.
Key words: "Like," "sorostitute," "box wine."
Pros: Has been in a protective, upper-middle-class bubble so long she will not challenge you with reality.
Cons: Strains and elevates her voice to match the standard sorority pitch. Easily bored or annoyed.
How to bluff: Ask her if she's a natural blonde, or if she knows of any good coffee shops.
Aura of superiority
Entire wardrobe dictated by the athletic department
Common questions: "What's the score?" and "Did we have a test last week?"
Academic habits: Sometimes comes to class just to see what it's like, leaving as soon as he's consumed the two Muscle Milks and three CLIF Bars he has in his backpack.
Often found: Travels only with other athletes, or within rotating clouds of groupies.
iPod playlist: Rick Ross, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, any generic rap or hard rock.
Key words: "Protein," "sweats," "practice."
Pros: Hang with him at the bar and you won't wait in lines or pay for drinks.
Cons: Won't hang with you at the bar.
How to bluff: Just steer away of mentioning the fact that only a very small percentage of college athletes are able to make a career out of their sport.
Thin, bright coat of eyeliner contrasted with stark red eyes
Oversized Joy Division T-shirt (beneath a hemp baja hoodie in the winter months)
Thrift store jeans or long, flowing skirt
Sandals or Converse tennis shoes
Accessories: glass chillum, eye drops, hacky-sack, potent-smelling Ziploc bag
Common questions: "What?"
Academic habits: Surprisingly, often shows up to class and appears totally absorbed, but confuses professor when she flunks a simple test then explains she thought the class was on a different subject (for several weeks ...).
Often found: Blissed-out in her dorm room atop a pile of avant-garde magazines, or harshed-out in the cafeteria by the bogus food with her headphones on.
iPod playlist: Sublime, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, Wiz Khalifa and stock nature sounds
Key words: "Dude," "peace," "Kush," "I forgot."
Pros: Relatively free with bud, won't raid your beer.
Cons: Won't wear shoes unless forced to. Won't remember who you are the next time you see her.
How to bluff: Tell her about your attempts to get a medical card, or repeat her pro-legalization arguments back to her.
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