Classic College Memes: You Know You’re in College When ….

The Internet is full of memes–lists, gifs, videos, and other things that often go viral–and that’s been the case since, well, since the Internet was invented.  A couple of weeks ago while cleaning out some old files, I found a few things and decided to spend a few weeks talking about memes that I first encountered in 1995.

Beatty Hall at Loyola University Maryland (formerly Loyola College in Maryland).  I took quite a number of political science classes in this building.

Beatty Hall at Loyola University Maryland (formerly Loyola College in Maryland). I took quite a number of political science classes in this building.

First up: You Know You’re in College When …

So the fall of 1995 was a particularly weird point in my life.  It was my first semester in college and I wasn’t used to being on my own (few are when they’re freshmen), I wasn’t used to sharing a bedroom with someone for an entire school year and I hadn’t made a clean break from back home (read: I was still with my girlfriend, who was still in high school).  Plus, starting college in 1995 meant that Facebook was simply the book of senior portraits that you received at freshman orientation and most of us got our very first email accounts.

And since email was such a novelty, we’d be excited when what we referred to as “forwards” made their way around our social circles.  Most of them were chain letters–forward this to five people and receive good luck–but some of the more memorable ones were in list form.  This particular list got forwarded around early and employs a common trope of forwards, which is the “You know you’re _____ if/when …”  During my four years of college, I’d encounter “You know you’re a Loyola student when …,” “You know you’re from Long Island when …” and would actually create a “You know you’re from Sayville when …” list (that at one point actually was forwarded back to me), but this particular list was the very first one of these I received.

“You know you’re in college when …” is perfect for the type of person who has spent two or three months in a place that beforehand was only spied in 1980s comedies or admissions office brochures.  And while it seems weird to make it seem like “college” is a foreign land that I’ve been sent off to, when you think of the life you lead when you’re away at school and the place you came from, a lot of this makes sense.

I do not know the identity of the original author of this list, just that a friend sent it to me during the fall semester of my freshman year and at one point I decided to copy and paste it into MS Word and save it to a floppy disk.  Somehow it made it onto my current hard drive with the rest of my college stuff.


  1. Going to the Library is a social event.
  2. You play the lottery to ensure housing, not win money.
  3. No matter what ails you, the nurse can only give you generic non-asprin.
  4. You need a map to find your classroom.
  5. You’re grateful that the cafeteria labels the food.
  6. Fast food becomes a delicacy.
  7. It’s not unusual to see four feet in the next shower stall.
  8. Pledging does not always mean saluting the flag.
  9. You plan your schedule to have Fridays off.
  10. You wear flip-flops in the shower, to avoid the mysterious creeping crud.
  11. No one minds eating “Grade D, but edible” hot dogs.
  12. You pay outrageous prices for books that are worthless to you after four months.
  13. The word rush does not mean to be in a hurry.
  14. You buy enough underwear to last five weeks so you do not have to wash your clothes often.
  15. You have to pay extra for edible food.
  16. You’re willing to pay any sum of money to have a pizza delivered to your room at 2:00 a.m.
  17. Out of sheer desperation, you attempt to cook a grilled cheese sandwhich on an iron.
  18. Standing in line for a half-hour to get a bowl of cornflakes is worth the wait.
  19. The same fish sticks that are served square on Tuesday are served round on Friday.
  20. You schedule your classes around your favorite soap opera.
  21. While your mother gives you a lecture over the phone, you take notes.
  22. You’ll do anything to get a ride to the local 7-11.
  23. After dinner, you order out.
  24. You’re parents are ‘really’ upset after they realize your dorm is co-ed by room, not by floor.
  25. You are introduced to instant scrambled eggs.
  26. You set the alarm for 1:00 a.m. to do your laundry and realize that you are not the only one.
  27. You learn that it’s a good thing to be on the Dean’s list. Whoever “Dean” is!
  28. You practice writing home for funds in your Creative Writing classes.
  29. You learn that Ph.D. doesn’t really mean Piled Higher and Deeper.
  30. You learn to sleep with your eyes ‘open’ in the lecture hall.
  31. The study group you are involved in should be called the ‘gossip’ group.
  32. It takes you four years to learn what Alma Mater means.
  33. Freshman means everyone else can treat you like pond scum.
  34. Sophomore means you finally know your way around the campus.
  35. Junior means you’ve learned how to party and still slide through your classes.
  36. Senior means you had better get serious about that studying stuff.
  37. You realize that no one sleeps in their own room more than twice a semester.
  38. You jump out of bed to answer the hall phone at 4:00 a.m. and it’s not for you.
  39. You give blood and volunteer for psychology experiments to make money.
  40. You wait in line for a half hour for a meal that you throw away.
  41. You promise each of your friends one cookie from your care package.
  42. Pledges wearing brown, walking on all fours and barking don’t phase you anymore.
  43. You design drinking games around sitcoms from your childhood.
  44. You have to hide food from your roommate.
  45. You study in the hall of your dorm because the library is too noisy.
  46. Roommates draw straws to see who gets the room for the night.
  47. You never have enough money.
  48. You appreciate your Mom’s cooking.
  49. You are so desperate for money that you rig the washers and dryers.
  50. All the bathrooms become co-ed after 1:00 a.m.
  51. Someone asks YOU how to use the washing machines.
  52. You can actually get 3 credits for sex ed.
  53. Going to sleep before 2:00 a.m. is something you dream about.
  54. Someone pulls the fire alarm before a big test.
  55. You tape record your classes.
  56. Food becomes a commodity.
  57. A rubber band over the doorknob means you have to find somewhere else to sleep.
  58. You only call your parents when you need money or a ride home.
  59. Class is cancelled if the teacher hasn’t shown up within 10 minutes.
  60. Before registration begins, everyone tries to find out from the upperclassmen who are the “Easy A” teachers.
  61. The cafeteria serves peas on Monday, carrots on Tuesday, peas and carrots on Wednesday and vegetable soup on Thursday.
  62. The last class you must take in order to complete your “requirements” isn’t being offered that semester.
  63. The big excitement for the month is a soap opera wedding.
  64. Essentials are reduced to a popcorn popper, 200 quarters and a beer mug.
  65. Your latest excuse for getting off the phone with your mother is “Mom, I have to go, I have a class in 15 minutes.”
  66. You decorate your room with beer caps.
  67. You come home at 10:00 p.m. on a week night and find out your roommate is having a party.
  68. Someone actually steals other students’ books from the library and sells them back to the bookstore.
  69. You stand guard by the washer and dryer.
  70. YOUR room is the neatest.
  71. Someone you don’t know passes out on your bed.
  72. You line up for dinner.
  73. You refer to your dorm room as “home” and your parents house as “home home.”
  74. You steal toilet paper every Wednesday so that you’ll have some for the weekend.
  75. During exam week, all you smell is popcorn.

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