Lessons learned at Ferris: a reflection

By: Matt Valleau

Matt Valleau graduated from Ferris in 2011 with a degree in Public Relations. He now lives and works in Grand Rapids. To see more of Matt’s work, check out mattvalleau.wordpress.com.

It’s been a hot minute since I left Big Rapids for the “adult world.” I’ve maintained roots on campus through my fraternity, which has kept me coming back to share stories and see the experience of current students.

“What’s the real world like?” They’ll ask. I’ll tell them it’s mostly dark and depressing, with many evenings spent curled on the couch wishing the sun would expand and consume the Earth.

Truthfully, it’s not bad. Much like college, you are mostly in control of your experience, and you’ll get out what you put in. Ferris was a great time and education, but a lot of what will help later in life will happen outside of the classroom. Classes are certainly important; for most people your GPA won’t matter as much as you think, but that’s not an excuse to bury yourself in debt without a degree. Here are some things you should work on outside of the classroom.

Learn to drink. Or not.
This isn’t about those health and wellness posters that are part of Ferris’ annual smear campaign against fun, but more about learning your limits. You’re going to have professional outings of all varieties and people drink. It’s great.

You don’t want to be the drunkest person at the party, so learn what your limit is to still be a decent person when drinking. If you aren’t a drinker, that’s fine, too. Learn not to be pretentious when people ask why you aren’t drinking or drink soda water with lime so people assume you’re drinking.

Be a small talk champion.
Small talk is the absolute worst, but use your time at Ferris to ready yourself to handle it in any setting. The secret to small talk is to ask questions and have basic knowledge about a lot of things. People love talking about themselves, so let them do it.

Dank memes.
It’s a heated political season and our generation is pointedly guilty of battling on Facebook with memes and half-truths. It’s fantastic because that’s 100 percent the communication style in the adult world. That is, if your adult world is going to consist of an annual pilgrimage to the Gathering of the Juggalos. Facebook is Facebook, but be sure to still be capable of carrying a high level discussion in person.

Good luck with your adulting!