It's the best four (or five or six) years of your life: CougCenter welcomes you to Washington State University

WSU President Dr. Elson S. Floyd and his mustache welcome you to Pullman. Photo from WSU Athletic Communication

You're a freshman stepping onto the most beautiful campus in the world as a student for the first time. It can all be a little overwhelming. But calm down, take a deep breath and go to the dining hall and get a slice of pizza. We'll help you get through it.

With school at Washington State University starting up again next week, I've spent the last few days reminiscing about some of my favorite times from school. Every year I went over to school over a week early for the inevitable week of partying and little to no responsibility other than to throw another party the next day. My freshman year though, was an overwhelming experience. So we at CougCenter would like to do everything we can to make yours a little easier.

On August 16th, 2006 my family drove me across the Cascades and into the beautiful rolling hills of the Palouse which you'll come to know as God's Country. We parked in front of the Scott-Coman dorm and went upstairs to Coman 404. We unpacked some of my things, went back downstairs and shared a few long hugs. As my family drove off, for the first time in my life, I was on my own. It was a simultaneously thrilling and stupefyingly terrifying thought.

It's scary now but trust me when I say this: it's the start of the best years of your life. But it's no one else's responsibility except yours to make these four years (or seven years which is referred to as 'pulling a Van Wilder') as great as they can be. What Washington State will provide to you is different than any other college experience anywhere. It's true, Pullman's location is pretty remote. The school was only put there because of the natural aquifers that sit beneath it.

The isolation is what makes this experience better than any other though. What's there to do after your homework is done or, more likely, procrastinated on? Be around and bond with the people you meet. With everything so close to campus, you'll be spending an awful lot of time there as well. There's a reason why we believe WSU Cougar fans have more passion for their teams than any other. It's because you will spend all your time involved with the school be it academically or losing your voice in Martin Stadium. You're going to spend more time with your fellow students than you ever thought possible.

Over the next four years, you're going to transform into a completely different person. As I told the seniors who you just missed running into, these years will change you in a way you never thought possible. You're going to grow, mature and change for the better. You're going to be more stressed then you've ever been in your life and you're going to have moments of relaxation after finishing a hard week that don't rival any others to this point. You'll fall in love and you'll have your heart broken. You'll gain about 20 pounds and then gain about 10 more. You'll have nights you'll never forget and others you won't remember (it's a played out platitude but it's spot on).

What this all really comes down to then is two very simple words: enjoy it. Take classes you like going to and join clubs that don't feel like a burden on your free time. The next four years shouldn't be nothing but textbooks and studying.

These years are going to be incredible but it's up to you to make it that way. Make sure you get out there and enjoy it. Alright, enough of my waxing poetic about the next few years. How about some practical advice from myself and a lot of your elders. Earlier this week, I put it to the CougCenter Twitter followers to come up with some advice for freshman. As you'll discover, Coug alums are the best and they proved it again when they doled out some great advice.

I can't emphasize the importance of this enough. Despite what some will tell you, Pullman does have an open container law every day of the year except game day and even then, open alcoholic beverages are only allowed in certain areas. Walking around with an open beer is asking for trouble. On that same vein:

If you're outside, don't have them at all. You'll discover the cops have this whole "line of sight" thing on their side.

Also, this will happen to you:

To help avoid further humiliation and verbal punishment from those in classes above you, please, for the love of all things holy, find your classes before the first day. Not only does holding your schedule along side a map make you look like a freshman, you're going to get the "deer in the middle of a highway" treatment from someone barreling down the hall like an 18 wheeler.

I don't know what it is about college but something just makes it impossible to roll out of bed before 8:30 a.m. In high school, I started at 7:25 a.m. so I don't know what one summer did to my sleep schedule but if I had to be up before eight, it was agony.

Dear God, this. Sloan Hall is halfway down the western side of College Hill and it's a dark, dank building where the engineering majors are imprisoned because the lack of windows keeps them from having to be exposed to their biggest enemy: natural light. If you've got a class 10 minutes after a class in Sloan, may God have mercy on your soul because you are going to hate your life. In all likelihood, you'll have to hike up Thompson Lawn, a hill so steep I skied down it my sophomore year.

Also, does the term "free beer" mean anything to you?

Not that we at CougCenter would ever endorse skipping class but if you're going to do it, eating and napping is a good reason to. By the way, at some point in your academic journey, you're going to encounter a professor who has the brass ones to require attendance and actually makes it part of your final grade because .... I have no idea why. Professors that give extra credit for attendance I have no problem with. Earth to professors that require attendance: I'm paying to be here. My presence is not compulsory.

Listen, it's going to bed cold. Really cold. My freshman year it was 25 degrees on Halloween night. Junior year it snowed 28 inches during Dead Week and there were three mornings the wind chill dipped below -10. Senior year, there was a week it didn't get above 15. There are plenty of sidewalks at WSU that are heated (best investment the school ever made). But most still aren't. Learn fast: the karma gods do not take laughing at someone else's pain lightly. If you laugh, you will get yours. But still, I'd laugh.

Recommending for a friend, right? NO ONE CAN RESIST THE CALL OF A MCCOUGAR! Or a scoop of Blackberry Ripple from Ferdinand's. Or Apple Cup Crisp. Or caramel cashew. You know, it's just easier to say no one can resist Ferdinand's.

Alright, we've joked around a bit but this is important as well. If you let yourself get to wrapped up in the partying and drinking, you're either going to flunk out or it's going to take you more than four years to get your degree. Whether your parents are paying for school, you're taking out loans or you're shelling out yourself, someone is paying for it. Don't waste the money. Going to college is still a privilege a lot of kids don't have but wish they could. Treat it as such.

Enjoy it Class of 2017. These are the best four years of your life and if you blink, they'll be gone and you'll never get them back. Just one more thing: never take a class from Joey Reagan. Trust me.

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