Maybe you think that if you play a sport you’ll be fit and not gain weight. It happens, but much of team sports involves standing around and sitting on the bench. The “individual” sports like running and cross-country skiing are best in giving you aerobic benefits, which means strengthening the most-important cardiovascular system. These benefits, of course, can be obtained without being on a team. You can run or walk by yourself or with friends on cross-country trails, hike the hills, and use exercise machines in the fitness center. Forty-five truly vigorous minutes four or five times a week will normally keep you in good shape, although not eating too much is even more important than exercise in keeping weight off.
For many young men, building showy muscles is important for the sexual sweepstakes, but the women (or men) those weightlifters are trying to impress should keep in mind that without aerobic activity those guys are probably building muscles larded with fat. Bonus point: A still-little-known benefit of energetic exercise — only recently scientifically proven — is that it grows brain cells and increases brain chemicals for better mental performance, including reducing anxiety about exams.
You probably don’t need a car. Colleges and the communities they’re in have public and private transportation options, including many for commuters: buses, vans, bike shares, subways, and — for visits home — trains and planes. Getting in a car is probably the most dangerous activity you’ll ever participate in, and cars are helping destroy the world with their pollution. Young people appear to be recognizing these truths, since they are not driving at an accelerating rate.
They may also have been forced to recognize that automobiles are cash cavities. At the three colleges where I taught, I was appalled at the time subtracted from studies (not least, the courses I was teaching) by the many hours a lot of students worked at fast-food and other poorly paying jobs to support their cars. If you do have a car, make sure you know where the oil dipstick is, how to change a tire, what bald tires look like, and what that blue smoke coming out the exhaust of your clunker means.
Topics in Street Law
I knew some students who thought it was fun to drive around town one night shooting out windows with a BB-gun. They were arrested, expelled, and the last I heard faced jail and fines. As in that case, alcohol (see Remedial Alcohol and Drugs below) is at the root of many youthful run-ins with the law. So much is written and spoken about excessive teenage-and-beyond alcohol use that I’ll restrict myself to this: be aware that the police seem to have an enormous interest in breaking up drunken parties involving underage students. If you are hauled to the police station, your life will become immensely more complicated.
The cops are imaginative in going after young people. I knew a student who was arrested for drunken driving on his bicycle. He spent the night in the drunk tank at a city jail. It was educational — and expensive, to pay a lawyer to get the charge dismissed.