Student Body Shots: ’It’s funny because it’s true’

No matter how smart or clever you think you are, at some point you will fall victim to a lapse in judgment. You will be that kid who has to stand next to the laundry machine as they dismantle the console because you brilliantly tried putting a nickel in it when you ran out of quarters. Some people go to college to play a sport, to reinvent themselves, to find a great job, to get smarter, but in the end, as author Steve Hofstetter brilliantly points out in his book Student Body Shots, although everyone believes his or her college experience is unique, there are certain common trials that everyone goes through.

A recent graduate from Columbia University, Hofstetter wrote his debut book as a “how-to guide” on making the most of your college experience, though some of his arguments must be taken with a grain of salt. He advises in all spheres, from social to practical. Hidden amongst the hundred pages of the book are even hints on how to get higher grades.

Although the organization and the style of the book are indicative of a young writer, the comedy and the satire easily make up the difference. Hofstetter uses an “it’s funny because it’s true” approach to college life, commenting on everything from the hackneyed topics of dorms and dining halls to more novel ideas such as Instant Messenger and birthdays.

His recent graduation from college was truly an asset in making the book as current and accurate as possible. Hostetter’s commentary and jokes are reflective and honest, and he does not sugar-coat the pitfalls of partying too much; he asserts, “You will fail out of school.” Ultimately, his advice is not limited only to college life, but can provide people with life skills such as this gem: “Seeing some people in a towel is a good thing. But for the rest of you, have some respect for your hallmates and change in the bathroom. Nothing says good morning like a fat wet guy in a mini-towel.”

He even covers a topic dear to the heart of many Williams first-years and sketchy upper-classmen: the facebook. At Williams, the facebook is no longer a mere noun – people walk around saying, “Oh, let’s facebook them.” Hofstetter points out, “If schools are going to put out facebooks, they may as well include measurements. If you think that people in the facebook will look hotter in real life, you’re wrong.”

Hofstetter also considers what trends might evolve into, such as e-mail: “It’d be great if you got other things with the same excitement that AOL gives you when you get mail. Like STD results. ‘Welcome! You’ve got crabs!’”

The book leaves you with certain unavoidable truths: College life is designed not to be easy, but fun and challenging. Additionally, for most people, the experience of college is the transition from the constraints of living under the rule of parents or a boarding school to the “real world.” It gives everyone a chance to do a lot of growing up in a short period of time.

This book reminds us that even until the last graduation party, we still have time to make the most of our time. There are so many things to do in such little time, and college allows us to try and experience things unallowable once you enter the working world. Acting wild and out of control is a lot more socially acceptable at a keg party than an office Christmas party. Once you finish this chapter in your life, you can pocket the memories and remember, “Sure, I ate four tons of Ramen noodles. Yeah, I hooked up with all my friends. Okay, I spent every week drinking myself unconscious. But hey – that was college.”

This hilarious book ought to be read by every student, or at least perused at your own leisure. For anybody who ever feels as if they are completely alone in a situation, Hofstetter will ensure you that somebody at some college has gone through the same experience – and survived. Life in college inherently does not make sense: the breakdown of holidays, the kids who have no class on Mondays and Fridays, the grading systems and just some of the random people you will meet during your college years.