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Coffee Talk

All about college.
all about college

Of all the questions we receive daily—through comments, emails, and DMs—a surprising number of them are college-related. You've asked everything from how we navigated long-distance relationships, to favorite classes, and how we avoided the dreaded Freshman Fifteen (spoiler: We didn't). Emily started the blog a few years after graduating from Scripps and Leslie discovered Cupcakes and Cashmere while procrastinating studying for a final her sophomore year, so you could say we each bring a unique take to it. In honor of college graduation season, we thought it would be fun to answer some of the most frequent college-related questions we receive, from the important (favorite classes) to the unavoidable (dining hall food):

1. What's the best class you took in college?

Emily: I took a lot of great film classes in college, my favorite of which was a 'Films of Hitchcock' course. I'd never seen any of his movies before and became completely enamored with them all ('Vertigo' is still one of my favorites). Beyond the fact that some classes involved watching these movies while eating popcorn in an auditorium, it was taught by Barry Sanders, an incredible professor who made learning such a joy. I think I managed to take 5 of his courses over the years and loved them all.

Geoffrey: I took more history classes than I needed to, considering I wasn't a history major, but one that I still reference was 'History of the American Presidency.' The class was a deep dive into the personal and professional lives of each man who has held the office, discussing their policies in the context of their time and how it shaped the future of the country. It also looked into the flaws of each man, which humanized lofty historical figures and providing a sense of how challenging the office can be for those who are ill equipped to handle the responsibility of leading a country.

Leslie: So many! I loved a course I took my sophomore year on stem cell research—I didn't know anything about the subject, but it was fascinating to learn about the politics and science behind such a controversial and important issue. I also took a class called The Psychology of Imagination from the leading researcher on imaginary friends, so that was incredible. It's one of those classes I still bring up all the time.

2. What did you major/minor in and why?

Emily: I majored in Sociology and minored in Media Studies. I took a lot of different courses my freshman year, with the goal of finding ones I was most passionate about. My sociology classes were fascinating and made me view the world in a different way. Media Studies was a bit more of a passion project at the time, though it's what taught me most of what I was able to apply to my initial career in advertising.

Geoffrey: Finance, I thought I wanted to work with money. I was wrong, but I did learn a number of invaluable business lessons which I still use.

Leslie: Psychology and English, because everyone in my family majored in English (mom, dad, cousins, aunts, uncles, second-cousins—we're really into it) and Psychology because I went through a 10-second phase where I wanted to be an Abnormal Psychologist or therapist—plus the classes were so interesting. What's better than learning about people?

3. Did you go into college already knowing what you wanted to do?

Emily: Yes, though not because I was really on it or anything. I was just very drawn to advertising from a young age and would systematically go through all of my magazines and tear out each Absolut and Volkswagon ad and tape them to the back of my bedroom door. I was blown away at how such simple, clever ideas could make things seem so appealing. 

Geoffrey: I thought I wanted to work in finance, but after three years of business classes, I soon realized I had more passion (and skill) with marketing and advertising. I didn't change my major (from finance), because I felt it was a more prestigious and viable major, but after graduating, I quickly sought positions with a marketing emphasis and have been there ever since.

Leslie: I did for the most part—I knew I wanted to go into publishing—but I took some twists and turns along the way. At different points, I wanted to be a psychiatrist, a vet, or a college professor (when you're a student, all the professors look like they have it made in the shade), but I always came back to publishing and writing—either as a cookbook editor or food writer—which has since evolved to include lifestyle writing and editing!

4. How would you describe your college self?

Emily: Challenged, yet lazy, and very happy.  

Geoffrey: Wayward and unfocused for a while, until I found the classes I was passionate about.

Leslie: Unsure of myself and stressed-out. Luckily, I figured things out (for the most part) by my Senior Spring.

5. Favorite thing about where you went to college?

Emily: The Scripps College campus is like something out of a fairy tale—it's quaint and tree-lined, with hidden gardens, and Spanish-style buildings. I loved the close-knit community that comes with going to a small school and the special little traditions, like Wednesday afternoon tea, where I'd meet my girlfriends each week.

Geoffrey: The weather.

Leslie: Going to school with all women, living down the hall from my best friends, the beautiful campus, and the traditions. There were several public traditions like Marathon Monday and hoop rolling, but also several passed-on secret traditions that have existed for over a hundred years (which I'm not about to spill here!), which made the experience that much more unique and special. 

5. Thing that makes you face-palm about college?

Emily: Pretty much everything. From my style (5-inch platform flip-flops with sweats), to how terrible I was at managing my time, to the extreme lengths I'd go to in order to "run into" boys I liked. Oh and there was also that time my friend and I were the only ones who dressed up (in absurdly provocative clothing - er lingerie) to go to a thematic party. 

Geoffrey: Too many things to list, but one cringeworthy experience was a post-breakup bender, that included a one-liter bottle of Jaegermeister, a bottle of Everclear, two friends and a rooftop. Surprisingly no one got injured, despite a small fire and leaping 12 feet straight down, on to solid concrete. 

Leslie: The fact that I thought dating the DJ of a frat was really cool. (Okay, I mean it kind of was at the time. But not as cool as I thought it was.) Also Geoffrey, can you please elaborate on that rooftop story??

6. Any advice for navigating that awkward post-graduation time?

Emily: Remember that things get easier. Whether you have a job or are still looking for one, know that you won't always feel so lost. My post-graduation time was fantastic in the sense that I loved my job at Conde Nast, but I literally didn't know another person in L.A. and would anxiously await Monday morning so I'd at least have something to do during the day. Lean into how transitional of a time it is, since those are the moments in which you're able to make the most change and progress.

Geoffrey: If you don't have a job or an offer, try to get anything that will help you avoid moving back with your parents. While you're looking for your first career position, do whatever it takes to pay your own bills, separate yourself from your youth and become truly independent. There may be some lean years, but you'll develop a lot of life skills you didn't learn in school. 

Leslie: It's such a personal decision, so I know a lot of people may disagree with me based on their own experiences, but I'd say: Don't take "a break" after graduation (unless you already have a job and they're okay with you taking time off to travel between graduation and work). If you know what you want to do and are passionate about it, jump straight into it! I missed half of my graduation ceremony to move to New York to be able to start a grad school program two days later. It was hectic, chaotic, and stressful, but at the same time felt so productive, rewarding, and exciting.

7. What was your sleep schedule like in college? (aka, Did you pull all-nighters on the reg? Take 8 a.m. classes or wake up at noon?)

Emily: I only pulled a few all-nighters, most of which were unsuccessful since I could barely function the next day. I largely packed my schedule with early morning classes and was very strategic about keeping my Fridays free so I could work from the pool.

Geoffrey: I've always been an early riser and that didn't change, in college. I've spoken to this before, but I took several 7 a.m. labs and lectures, just so I could get my classes started and completed around noon. I hated studying at night and have a strong belief that trying to cram information into a tired brain doesn't help retain anything, so I'd make it a priority to consume info during the day and give myself a slight break at night. 

Leslie: My freshman year of college, I decided to join the crew team and have never been more sleep-deprived than I was that semester. We had to be on the bus by 4:45 a.m. every morning and I went to sleep every night between midnight and 2 a.m. (thanks in equal parts to my roommate's very different schedule, insomnia, and homework). I was a hot mess six out of seven days a week and dropped crew the next semester. After that, I started work most mornings at 7 a.m. and took early classes whenever possible to front-load my schedule. Come to think of it, I'm probably still recovering from college sleep deprivation.

8. What food did you live on in college?

Emily: My freshman year? Everything. I really went after the freshman 15/20 and crammed in as many pastries, ice cream, and pizza as humanly possible. Once I came back my sophomore year, I reined it in a bit and tried to find more of a balance. I'd eat healthily for breakfast and lunch, and then would have a more indulgent dinner (enchiladas, burger, casserole), followed by frozen yogurt. We were lucky in the sense that the food in the dining halls at the Claremont colleges was truly amazing, something I didn't understand to the fullest extent until I graduated and was trying to cook for myself.

Geoffrey: Primarily Mexican food, but I would also splurge on the occasional Panda Express Combo of white rice, orange chicken, and beef with broccoli. 

Leslie: The great thing about Wellesley is that there's a dining hall in every dorm and everyone's on an all-inclusive meal plan, so you don't even have to swipe in to go into most dining halls (you can cruise through like it's your own kitchen). The not-great thing is that, since every dining hall is tiny, there aren't a lot of options—you either eat the Monday Meatloaf, or grab a slice of pizza or something from the salad bar. As a result, I lived on a daily egg and sausage English muffin sandwich (which was my favorite thing in the world at the time), a sandwich for lunch, and granola with yogurt for dinner, plus all of the snacks.

9. What was your go-to outfit for class?

Emily: Knock-off Juicy Couture sweatsuit, dangly earrings, and flip flops (either flat or platform).

Geoffrey: I went to school at the height of the grunge era, so flannels were huge, so that was usually a part of whatever I was wearing.

Leslie: Black workout leggings and whatever shirt I could find. But also skinny jeans and boat shoes (I fully embraced the East Coast prep look for a girl from Reno). 

10. What jobs or internships did you have in college?

Emily: I babysat during the school year and was a camp counselor over the summer. I had a few short-lived jobs over the summers as well, as an intern at Goodby-Silverstein and doing promotional concerts at an oldies radio station, which was as glamorous as it sounds.

Geoffrey: I wish I had done more internships, but I had to work during college and held several retail positions for a majority of my time in school.

Leslie: All of them. My junior year, I worked mornings before class at my college's financial aid office and afternoons at Lucky Brand Jeans on Newbury Street (a job I had all of college). I also worked at a daycare every Sunday morning and at a Psychology Lab at MIT, running studies on babies every Saturday at the Childrens' Museum (not as scary as it sounds, they just watched a video and I coded their responses), then two days a week I interned at a children's publishing company, Candlewick (which I loved). I was also an RA, but like a cool RA. I learned a lot, but that was also the semester I nearly lost my mind. 

11. What was the most valuable thing you learned in college?

Emily: To try new things and to push myself past my comfort zone. 

Geoffrey: Learning is a fluid process and while you may go into college with a specific idea of what you want to do, it's ok to change your mind and pursue a new path. 

Leslie: So much! That my high school boyfriend and I were, contrary to my original belief, not meant to be (at all), how to be a good friend, and that being successful and happy isn't directly proportional to the number of As you receive (it's okay to let go a little sometimes).

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