Your mother has been telling you, “Your college years will be the best of your life,” ever since you can remember. Although she’s probably just expressing her own discontent with her life ever since, this little nugget happens to be a universal truth of the adolescent experience. You’ll meet interesting people, make great friends, and learn to see the world through the prism of newly formed maturity, so don’t be afraid to prove your mother right. If you’re preparing to embark as an undergraduate into the landscape of higher education, it’s important to first contemplate the things you will need to be successful in your social and academic life. Your experience as a student can be greatly enriched by arming yourself with the power of modern technology. Smartphones are essential in this age of connectivity, and these are five reasons I’d recommend a smartphone to any college-bound youth.
1. Playing games when Professor Whatever is going on about whatever
For four years you will listen to many intelligent professors astound you with their wealth of wisdom and knowledge. They will engage and confront you with the educated world, with the beauty of intellectualism and the growth and maturation that can happen when you’re open to new ideas. But even Tiger Woods has his bad rounds. On the days your professor rants and meanders off on tangents about his or her private life, find solace in a classic video game, which is easily downloadable on any smartphone. Is she seriously working her husband into a lecture about Palestine? Who cares! Grand Theft Auto III is only five bucks… Time to jack some rides.
2. It’s a camera, too
Not only does this wonderful piece of technology give you access to the internet at all times, everywhere, it also takes high quality photos that can be shared easily by many different means. Pictures are an integral part of socializing for college-aged adults, so a smartphone will serve several essential functions. Many potential partners will attempt to court you via sext, and because of the camera your smartphone will offer the best possible channel for such exchanges. So make sure to take lots of pics, and when your friend Rich is begging you not to upload that video you took of him doing karaoke at McDonald’s at 3 a.m. last night, remain steadfast and committed to sharing his rendition of Livin’ on a Prayer with the world. Gone forever are the days of having to carry multiple digital devices in order to have a good time. “Is that a camera AND a phone in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”
3. Finding grub
As an undergraduate, many nights will be spent intoxicated and hungry and roaming the streets of your college town. In past generations, young adults would have actually known the places to eat. Thanks to the new media revolution, your phone knows for you. There are applications that will literally pinpoint your location using the smartphone’s GPS and tell you the best places in your area for any kind of food at any price range you desire. Aren’t even sure what you want? Don’t worry, the app can decide for you. Rumor has it the next version of Urbanspoon will even be able to chew and swallow. I, however, won’t be impressed till my smartphone poops for me, too.
4. Cramming for an exam ten minutes before it’s given
Sure, you were going to prepare for your English lit exam weeks ago. You were going to pick up Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and read every word of it. You were going to make notes and reread chapters, go to the library and digest scholarly articles discussing the novel’s subtext and its greater implications for the modern canon. But then you started dating this guy with curly hair, and then you went with a group of friends to Six Flags and there was absolutely no way you were going to miss football over the weekend, and so you simply decided that you were going to cram the night before using SparkNotes. And there you are, cramming. You’ve made it three chapters into the book when you suddenly realize that you’ve actually fallen asleep, and you didn’t set an alarm before passing out. You wake from your sleep abruptly. Class is starting in thirty minutes; panic takes over. You throw on your Uggs and sprint across campus to the lecture hall. You bump into an elderly woman and knock a stack of papers from her hands. You scream your apologies to her from a distance: there’s no time to help her gather her things and make sure she’s okay. You fail to brush your teeth or comb your hair, which allows you to make it to your seat with ten minutes to spare. If you’re a sucker that’s stuck living at the turn of the century, you pull out your book and start blowing past pages, attempting to grab hold of some brief passage that might help you BS your way through this thing—God, if you’re listening, give me the strength and inspiration to muster a B+ on this exam and I’ll read every book from now on, I swear! I’ll even read The Bible—If you have a smart phone, getting to SparkNotes or Wikipedia is easily done in under twenty seconds. Even faster if you’ve already downloaded the apps. When time is of the essence, a smart phone will allow you start gobbling up those plot points and characters and turning them into well crafted arguments about how the fate of the Satis House represents the old ruins of the imperial, British Empire. Cramming so close before an exam has never been easier with the worldwide web in the palm of your hand, and unlike your computer, a smart phone doesn’t take three minutes to boot up. When you only have ten minutes to read one of the great works in English literature, who has time to wait for the hourglass icon to go away?
5. Fitting in
The important thing to remember about having the best college experience is you have to appear to be the kind of person with whom people want to hang out. Unless you’ve found that niche group on campus of struggling artists that see modern technology as a form of oppression, this usually means having something expensive and cool to show the world, like a small, pocket-sized, electronic representation of your personality and flare. Of course you didn’t design or invent the smartphone, you merely picked out the color. But when you have nice things people think you are, in fact, a nice thing. So when Sandra from your physics class goes to punch her number into your slick smartphone, don’t make her second guess when you instead whip out your unlocked Nokia that you bought for less than you spent on fast food last month. It’s time for an upgrade.