I’m a book snob. I know, I know, it’s a little silly. But when I saw the popularity of The Hunger Games series, I scoffed at all the grown adults reading what was technically classified as a young adult book. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it—an English minor instilled in me a slight arrogance, so I didn’t read it. But when I accompanied my big sister to see the movie, the turbulent yet cohesive plot pulled me in so fast that I had the books downloaded to my e-reader before I even stepped off the subway train to walk home.
Naturally, as someone in higher education, I drew many lessons from The Hunger Games that prospective students can apply to their college experience. So, inspired by my editor’s learned lessons from the Muppets, and in celebration of the first movie’s DVD being released this weekend, here are some of the things The Hunger Games taught me about college.
Know your weapons
Katniss knows how to rock her bow and arrow. It’s a tool she’s used naturally her entire life, so you’re not going to see her utilize a bludgeon any time soon. College is a time for you to whip out your best weapons too. A lucky few students have known their weapons their entire lives—a knack for math, excellent writing skills, a keen interest in biology, as examples—and these are the students who most often enter college with a definitive major choice. But many students need to explore around the cornucopia and see what tools fit them best. Here’s the good news: you have until sophomore year, in most cases, to declare your major. (Also, no one is trying to kill you in the process.)
Find your Haymitch
Everybody needs a mentor of some sort, whether it’s an upperclassman in your major, a professor, or a manager. Even if Haymitch was blunt, slow, and frequently intoxicated, he provided his mentees with insider information necessary for their battle, and even sent sustenance in the middle of the games. When it comes to selecting classes, studying your material, and embarking on the internship/career search, it’s not just about what you know—it’s about who you know too, so find a mentor to guide you through those key parts of your college career. (Try visiting your school's career and/or alumni offices as a start; they may have experience matching students with mentors or even a more formal mentoring program.)
Have a Gale and a Peeta
Have two guys/gals essentially fighting over you. Just kidding (kind of). In essence, make new friends but keep the old. Gale is that old friend with whom you have an incredibly comfortable relationship. Even after you leave for college, you always have at least one friend who knows everything about you. But be open to the new friendships: the Peetas, if you will. It may not necessarily be a cute blond baker with a crush on you, but rather, you’ll likely find a friendship forged so tightly that you dote on each other and find yourselves inseparable. Maintain those old friendships that got you through your youth, but find those new friends who will support you through your battle (college) and beyond.
I’m not saying to throw your homework at your professor in a fit of rage. But understand this: just because a person holds an authoritative position doesn’t mean that their stance or tactics are the be all, end all. Disagree with a professor’s opinion? Provide an educated argument that opposes his or her point of view. Don’t like the way the school’s president is running a certain aspect of the institution? Write a petition. College is an important link that connects your childhood/teen years to adulthood, so prepare yourself ethically by taking a counteracting (but educated and composed) stance when you find it necessary.
And while you’re at it, avoid threatening suicide with berries.