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05/20/91

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Student's book offers freshmen tips on college survival You can totally mess up a midterm in college. You can forget your coat at a frat party. You can even date your roommate's old sweetheart, if you're daring. But never, ever, wash your reds with your whites. --Greg Gottesman, Stanford University

STANFORD -- In his freshman year at Stanford University, Greg Gottesman learned about life the hard way.

"The first time I did my laundry, I turned all my underwear pink," he said. "I overdrew my checking account and couldn't deal with my roommate. I was a mess."

Now a junior majoring in political science, Gottesman has organized those experiences into a book, College Survival: A Crash Course for Students by Students (Simon and Schuster, 1991).

College Survival is aimed at the 1.5 million students who will begin college this fall. Now in its second printing, the book includes 24 chapters of practical advice on such subjects as clothing, cars and bicycles, campus safety, choosing classes, time management, athletics and exercise, nutrition, working at school, and dorm life.

A native of Mercer Island, Wash., Gottesman is a straight-A student and former sports editor of the Stanford Daily. Last summer he was a speech writer for the mayor of Seattle, Norman B. Rice.

The idea for College Survival came from his mother, an educational consultant, who noticed a lack of college preparatory books actually written by students.

"You can't have a book about college survival written by someone who graduated around the time of the First Ice Age," said Gottesman, 21. "The fact that this book is written by today's students makes it unique."

Gottesman wrote the book over two summers and now is busy plugging it on television and radio talk shows. Among his tips:

  • Dress for success. "Underwear is always the first thing you run out of. Bring lots. Socks, too! You don't want to be doing a wash every five days. A big bathrobe, especially for women, may be a lifesaver on coed floors. The walk from the shower to your room may be quite a hike."
  • Make new friends. "Don't be afraid to initiate contact with people you don't know. 'Hi, I'm Hugh, from Duluth. . .' is always a good way to start (especially if your name is Hugh!). Don't just hang out with the people you already know from high school. Don't ignore them either, but spread out."
  • Date new people. "Many freshmen come to school missing an extra piece of luggage, mainly in the form of a boyfriend or girlfriend at home. It is usually a good policy to date other people at college. If you are calling your long-distance sweetheart every day, chances are you will miss out on many new experiences and some invaluable opportunities for growth."
  • Be considerate of your roommate. "Don't let your wet towel mold on top of your roommate's desk -- or yours, for that matter. If he or she asks you to remove the stale tuna salad from the refrigerator, don't argue . . . do it! Lead by example. If you want to live in unblemished paradise, clean your side of the room and hope your roommate follows suit."
  • A professor makes a course -- not the other way around. "Find out who the best professors are and take their classes, especially if they are in your field. Even if they are not in your field, try to get into classes with the best teachers . . . Older students can tell you who are the interesting professors and who are the duds."
  • Keep up. "You know the game. Teacher explains one section, you read it two weeks later. Dumb! By reading the assignments before class, the lecture material is clearer and easier to absorb. You are going to have to read the stuff anyway."
  • When taking tests, live for partial credit. "Always show your work. If worse comes to worse, write something down, anything, even if it's your girlfriend's phone number as opposed to the correct answer. Partial credit has salvaged more than a few test scores, especially in science courses where the median scores is often 40 percent or lower."

Gottesman's own tips are supplemented by more than 100 anecdotes that he gathered from students at 75 different colleges. The book is illustrated by cartoons drawn by Steven Ojemann, a junior at the University of Washington.

-tj-

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