Ruminations on College Life

Ruminations on College Life

4.9 27
by Aaron Karo

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With hilarious insights, observations, and personal
anecdotes on everything from partying all night, to learning
to do laundry, to falling asleep in class, Aaron Karo
has captured the college experience like never before.

It took college freshman Aaron Karo only one week to realize that college was a joke -- an especially funny one that he


With hilarious insights, observations, and personal
anecdotes on everything from partying all night, to learning
to do laundry, to falling asleep in class, Aaron Karo
has captured the college experience like never before.

It took college freshman Aaron Karo only one week to realize that college was a joke -- an especially funny one that he could share with his friends in a regular email newsletter about life on campus. By his senior year, Ruminations on College Life had become an international phenomenon. Now, for the first time in print, here is the best of the original ezine, previously unpublished material, and brand new introductions to each section by the author. Share in the absurdity and insanity of the college experience with Karo as you read his outrageous inside account of scheming students, crazy professors, confused parents, and rowdy frat boys.
Perfect for anyone who is destined for college, currently surviving it, or already a veteran, this book is a cult classic readers can enjoy alone or read out loud at their next party for tons of laughs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"[A]lways remember, college is a joke," declares Karo, who chronicled his alcohol-soaked college experience in real time via a popular e-mail newsletter. Now a graduate, he's collected his Ruminations to provide the skinny on the rituals of drinking and to terrify anyone who thinks college is for learning. It will be fairly astonishing for some readers to read that the University of Pennslyvania, an Ivy League school, "has an obsession with naked men. If you get shut out in Beer Pong, you have to run naked" or that "[t]he dry cleaners on campus suck. They're the worst. I wear a pair of khakis, I get some dirt on them, so I take them to the dry cleaners. You know what the guy says to me? 'I don't know if we can get this out.' What do you mean you don't know if you can get this out? It's dirt! What purpose do you serve?" After a several similar items, readers will be asking themselves the same question about this book-unless fresh from Beer Pong. Yet there's also an odd poignance to looking on as the clock ticks down Karo's seemingly endless free time. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher Karo gets an A+ for this hilarious debut. Ruminations on College Life should be required reading for everyone!

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Introduction: Welcome to College Life

When I first arrived on campus at the University of Pennsylvania, I quickly gained the "Freshman 15" -- the ability to drink fifteen beers in one sitting. My first couple of weeks as a freshman were typical. I wandered around completely clueless and partied so hard that it made even my wildest high school nights seem tame in comparison. I rarely stumbled back to my tiny dorm room before 4 A.M.

On Sunday nights I would try to take a break from the drunken mayhem and rest up for the coming week. However, since my body was so messed up from the weekend's festivities, I could never fall asleep. As I tossed and turned for hours, all these funny thoughts and observations about college life kept bouncing around in my head. One Sunday night I finally decided to write them down, and the next day I emailed them to twenty of my friends from high school. Ruminations on College Life was born.

Each month throughout my freshman year I continued to email out an issue of Ruminations. The emails consisted of all my funny stories and anecdotes about college life that I thought up on sleepless Sunday nights. Soon my friends began forwarding it to their friends, who then emailed me to be added to my mailing list.

As I kept writing during my sophomore year, my mailing list kept growing and growing, and I created to hold all the old issues. By my junior year, Ruminations on College Life had become an international phenomenon as thousands upon thousands of pre-froshes, college kids, and alumni joined my list. My issues were used to teach English to students in Finland and Austria and were the subject of term papers and class projects from Syracuse to UCLA.

By the time of my graduation from Penn in May 2001, I had over 11,000 subscribers around the world. The drunken ramblings of a sleepless college freshman had evolved into something I could never have imagined. After graduation I tried to get all my Ruminations published, the right people saw them, and the result is in your hands right now.

If you're reading this in the bookstore, take a look around. There are tons of books about college. Some will tell you what classes to take and others will tell you how to deal with an unruly roommate. But none will tell you what really goes down in the tiny dorm rooms and frat-house basements of colleges across the nation and around the world. This one will.

I hope you will read my book and laugh out loud. Because whether you're going to college soon, currently surviving it, or already a grizzled alum, the college experience is universal. It is also absurd and ridiculous. So get comfortable on your extra-long twin, crack open a case of cheap beer, and read on. And whatever campus you call home, always remember, college is a joke!

Copyright © 2002 by Aaron Karo

Chapter One: Freshman Year

Your freshman year of college is supposed to be a new beginning. You emerge from the summer following your graduation from high school pretty much hating your hometown and everyone in it. You look forward to college as a chance to start fresh, to make new friends and begin a new phase in your life. Then you get to college and immediately start hanging out with everyone who goes there from your high school, and you're constantly instant-messaging and emailing your friends from home. That's because freshman year isn't a whole new phase of your life; it's really just another place to participate in underage drinking and trying to get laid.

As a freshman, you're the lowest of the low. You don't know anybody, you can't find anything, and no one seems to want to explain anything to you. But everyone knows what it's like to be a freshman, so you have to use it to your advantage: "Excuse me, young man, why are you twenty minutes late for class?" Your response: "I'm sorry, I'm a freshman and I got lost." "Yo, dude, you just threw up all over my girlfriend!" Your response: "I'm sorry, I'm a freshman and I'm wasted." And they'll understand.

In the end, being a college freshman is like being a fetus. You're helpless, you still rely on your mom for pretty much everything, and you have no clue what the hell is going on. By the end of the year, you're wasted off your rocker, still completely clueless, and passed out on your dorm-room floor in the fetal position.


THE FIRST WEEK of college feels kind of like camp. You've got enough clothes to last you a few weeks, you're sleeping in a little bed, and you write letters to your parents and friends. After two months I was like, "OK, this has been fun, but the summer is over now, time to go home." The RA was in the hallway stopping dazed kids from leaving. They were all packed up saying, "Wait, you mean this isn't camp? But it feels just like camp! What? Four more years?"

WHEN I FIRST got to college, I was still kind of in that high school "gotta get involved" mode. You know, like when you used to join clubs just so you could put it on your college application. Anyway, for some reason I decided to run for freshman class president. Of course, I got trounced by some kid who was also still really into "getting involved," even more than me. (I think he needed it for his grad school application or something.) Even though I lost, I think I still had the best posters. They read VOTE KARO FOR PRESIDENT. PLEASE, I ALREADY TOLD MY MOM I WON! I thought that alone should have won me the election.

I WAS PRETTY prepared for college life right from the start because I had visited as a pre-frosh many times. There's nothing better than being a pre-frosh. You're so clueless but you have all of college still ahead of you. I'll never forget my first visit to campus. I got absolutely wasted and ended up on the floor of the dorm bathroom. This cute college girl comes in and asks me if I'm OK. I could barely respond. She said, "So you're a pre-frosh?" I nodded. She said, "OK, let me help you out," and proceeded to stick her fingers down my throat until I threw up, which made me feel much better. I never found out who that mysterious girl was, but I think of her every time I vomit.

HOW HOT WERE the first few days of school? I had like fifteen fans going at once in my room and one mini one that I kept directly in my face all day. That's basically who my good friends are now -- the ones who had the best fans, because I was always in their rooms. This one kid had an industrial-size fan and a grilled-cheese maker. He's my best friend now.

IN EVERY GRADUATING class from high school, there are always like five couples that decide to stay together when they go away to college. This always baffles me. Of all the couples from your school that did this, how many are still together? Zero! That's because it never works! Who are you kidding? Instead of talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend who is a thousand miles away on the phone ("Oh, I can't wait to see you over Thanksgiving break"), get a clue and start randomly hooking up like the rest of us.

A COUPLE OF weeks into my freshman year, when my mom asked me if I knew my way around, I said yes. But what I really meant was, I can only find the one room I have class in, in each of only four buildings, the frat houses, the places that sell beer, anything open twenty-four hours, my room, twelve other kids' rooms, and the cheese steak place.

ARE YOU GOOD with names? I forget them as soon as I hear them. Might as well not tell me at all! I have no idea what anyone's names are except my own, the kids I went to high school with, and that one hot girl who I have never spoken to but stalk from afar.

I HAVE NO idea how to do laundry. No, no, not like I have some idea but just don't know how much fabric softener to use, I mean I have no idea how to do laundry. I just had this vision that there would be some cute chick in the laundry room every time I went there who would show me how to do it. Dreams die hard, but I have no underwear.

CAMPUS IS REALLY a communist society. I own nothing, it all belongs to the university. I have no money -- it's all my parents'. My meals are served in little square portions at one brick building only during certain hours of the day! Is this college or the Soviet Union?

I LOVE THE concept of the dining hall. Because before you get to campus for the first time and you're deciding which meal plan to sign up for, older kids will always say the same thing: "The food is terrible but it's more of a social thing for freshmen." So we know going in that the food sucks! It's like we're saying, "Hey, Mom, I'm going away to college, but I don't really know anyone. So could you throw me a few thousand dollars? It's for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some friends."

FRESHMEN ARE ALWAYS saying, "I go to bed so late," "I don't sleep enough," "I have to catch up on my sleep." I get too much sleep. I'm sleeping all the time. I have to set my alarm just to wake up at 4 P.M. Catch up on sleep? I think I have to catch up on my awake because I have no clue what the hell goes on during the day!

DOES YOUR MOM still ask you about that kid you met the first day of school? You know, you meet this kind of dorky kid the first day and for some reason he'd already been there a week and knows everything, so he helps you move in. Every single time I speak to my mom now, she asks me about him. Like I know. I haven't even seen the kid since!

SO I'M OBSESSED with this gorgeous junior girl who of course won't give me the time of day. But I really don't understand why. I don't think she understands that, she being a gorgeous junior girl and me being a lowly freshman guy, the first eleven times we hooked up, she wouldn't even have to move. I swear I would do all the work -- she could just lie on her back the whole time. Why wouldn't she want that? I don't understand!

MY FRIEND DAN, like me, has no idea how to do laundry. One day he's out of underwear, the girl down the hall won't do it for him anymore, and he's desperate. So he decides to give it a try. He goes down to the laundry room in the basement of the dorm and tries to figure it out. He puts his clothes in the machine, puts the detergent in, puts some quarters in, but the thing is not working. He tries everything, but it's just not happening. Completely bewildered, he sees a little red help button right next to the machine and presses it. Unfortunately, it was the emergency alarm. Sirens in the dorm start blaring, red lights are flashing everywhere, cops are on the scene in minutes, and my friend has to sneak back to his room amid all this chaos wearing only a towel. He never did his own laundry again.

WHEN WINTER COMES around, bringing increasingly cold weather and increasingly packed frat parties, freshmen become faced with the paradox of clothing. If you dress warmly for the walk to the party, you'll sweat to death inside the frat. But if you dress lighter, you'll freeze to death before you even make it in. So really the question is, before you die, wouldn't you rather have a couple of beers first?

AS MY FRESHMAN year of college drew to a close, I realized what a wild ride it had been. I have never consumed so many toxic substances, expelled so many body fluids, or done as much work as I did that year. I guess freshman year is kind of like an economics problem. You want to maximize toxic substances consumed, minimize body fluids expelled, and do a decent amount of work. Of course, that's all theory. In reality, I ended up doing twelve kegstands, puking my brains out, and sleeping through my econ quiz. I love college.

Copyright © 2002 by Aaron Karo

Meet the Author

Aaron Karo is an author, comedian, and screenwriter. His books include Lexapros and Cons, I’m Having More Fun Than You, Ruminations on Twentysomething Life, and Ruminations on College Life. He was born and raised in New York, currently lives in Los Angeles, and always pays on the first date. Find him online at and follow him on Twitter @AaronKaro.

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Ruminations on College Life 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is hilarious, fun and right on!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutly loved this book! It was a fast paced and hilarious. I read it on the plane to visit a friend who was in a Fraternity that I would be staying with (the in Fraternity). Everything that Aaron Karo said about College Life and Fraternity Life was correct, from what I saw at least. I couldnt wait to get home and subscribe to his email Ruminations newsletter. I would reccoment this book to any High Schooler, College Student, or recently Graduated person.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Karo's book is absolutely hilarious. His ideas about college are right on the money, absolutely the best read I've had in awhile
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a perfect substitute for a "bathroom reader"
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been subscribing to Ruminations since it's first year of inception (as a senior in high school through now, my first year out of undergrad and in the working world) so even though I remembered almost all of the material, the book was still worth my while. I keep it in my bag and read it on the El during my commute and it's still funny after like the 50th time. Buy this book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aaron Karo definitely couldn't have been more honest in this comical account. As an alumni of Villanova University not much older than Aaron, I can definitely relate to everything he mentions in the book. Our parents send us to college so we can make something of ourselves, but while we're there, we definitely can't ignore all the possibilities to laugh, joke, go crazy, take easy classes, explore the opposite sex, rush for Greek life, and have fun, fun, fun! Aaron definitely knows what it's all about and doesn't leave out a thing. Read this not just so you can know what really goes on at college (or to remind yourself if you're already out) but also so you can laugh your head off! I wish this young man all the best of luck in his future!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amazing, one of the best books I've read thus far. Ruminations depicts the life of a college student without sugar coating it. It brings to light every situation that college students take for granted on a daily basis. Simply a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
No Doubt Aaron Karo is the Jon Stewart of College and earlier twenties life. Cheers!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My God...this book is great! I can't wait to read Twentysomething...especially since, sadly enough, my college life now consists of pictures and memories...ahhh, so many crazy memories...College was definately a splendid experience that Karo did an amazing job at putting into words...great'll laugh and be thankful you picked it up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is absolutely ridiculous how much I can relate...and how funny, yet true his writings are! It really makes me want to relive college life...enjoy it if your there now...I miss it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aaron Karo's book, gives the funniest, and thruthful facts about college life. I picked it up and didn't put it down until the last page. This book should be a required reading for all college students (what ever major they do or do not declare). Rock on Aaron. Can't wait for your next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone who knows anything about American culture can find Karo's summary of college life to be hilarious. Those who are experiencing or have experienced college life will laugh out loud thinking to themselves how true it all is. From the binge drinking frat boys to the funny details of college characters this book is a must for all!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was so good, Reading it i can totally picture me and my friends in so many if those situations. People watched me lauging and wondered what i was reading!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you know anyone who is going to college, is currently in college, or ever went to college this book is the PERFECT gift. It is a 100% accurate portrayal of college life and is guaranteed to please. You will find yourself lauging out loud after every page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an instant classic and should be read by all those who are in college, were in college and will be attending college. It is a top-notch and very real description of what to expect, the characters you will meet and the roller coaster ride of emotions that every college student has or will experience. In fact, the book transcends college, and everyone who has ever had funny friends and done crazy things can relate to Karo's intelligent antecdotes and hysterical ruminations. A must read for all!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely hysterical. I was laughing outloud the whole time. As a recent college graduate myself, I could relate to almost everything Karo talks about. He tells college life how it is. Doesn't leave anything out. The real everyday events that go on in a college students life. If your a pre-frosh and getting ready to go to college, this is a must read, to know what you are getting yourself into. (use it as a checklist of things that actually will happen to you at your 4 amazing years at college.) Any college kid or alumni could def relate. I fully recommend picking up this book, and I swear you will never put it down. GREAT BOOK!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been a long time fan of Ruminations, and the book is a fabulous culmination of years filled with laughter! If all of his stories are true, the author sounds like quite a stud....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a lonely freshman at Princeton when one of Aaron Karo's e-mails hit my inbox...and I found myself laughing like crazy, and, well, my first week at Princeton stopped being so sad. I've looked forward to each additional e-mail, and the book is truly hilarious, and, oddly enough, at times inspirational. It's really an awesome book, even though the author did go to Penn...
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Ruminations on College Life' is absolutely hilarious. Whether or not you¿ve experienced college life, Aaron Karo¿s book is a must read for anyone who likes to laugh ¿ out loud and often. Despite the title, 'Ruminations' extends beyond college life and covers topics everyone will experience at some point in their life. Karo acknowledges the absurdity in life¿s ordinary everyday minutiae with nonchalant sarcasm and adeptly describes outlandish yet completely plausible college life stories that all college students and alums should truly appreciate. Aaron¿s book could be the diary of any college student, describing common college situations, but it¿s Karo¿s conversant, sarcastic and sometimes subtle attitude and writing style that allows readers to understand and relate to his experiences as if it were their own. The end product is a book not just about professors, sororities, and drinking, it¿s also about social interaction and personal inconvenience, and how college life seems to produce a anthology of experiences and embarrassing moments we either strive to remember or tend not to admit. The book has wide-ranging¿s a cautionary account for parents, demystifying resource for future freshmen, insightful journal for current students, and a reminder to alumni of four unusual and bizarre years called college.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aaron congrats on this great book!!! This is one of the best books i have ever read anyone that has a chance to pick it up u will not want to put it down. Funny as hell!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a student at UPenn, i can relate to Aaron's trials and tribulations more than most. All i can say is that this material is a very keen observation of what everybody thinks but nobody says in college.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader of the Ruminations website it was so great to see the 'best of' compiled into one of the funniest books I've ever read. Karo is witty, insightful and really tells it like it is. Any college student should be able to completely relate to most of the stories in here. From drinking stories to the crazy and sometimes embarassing things that can happen in class...Karo puts a most amusing spin on the college experience. It's the most fun I've had reading in a long time. After all, he said it himself, 'college is a joke!'
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book (transformed from an email column written all through Karo's college career) brilliantly captures the life of every college student. Any reader - whether they are currently in college, going to college, or graduated 10 years ago - will find themselves laughing out loud at all of the little intricacies Karo catches about college life. A must read for the incoming freshman or anyone who wants to live vicariously through the pages!
Guest More than 1 year ago
if I didn't have this column to read out loud and laugh for hours at, I don't know what I would have done...they are written expressions of what every college student has seen heard or done...sometimes it's nice to know you're not the only one. Aaron Karo is hillarious