How To Surf Your Way Through College

In six easy steps

JRT_0418_1If you go to school in San Diego, this could be your campus. Photo: James Tull

Wanna know what’s fun? Surfing. Wanna know what’s not that fun? School. Wanna know what’s really not fun? Living in your parents’ basement at age 40, with your chance of procreation receding faster than your hairline.

Outside of these pitfalls, you never got to surf the waves strewn across the walls of your prepubescent bedroom. No Pipeline, no G-Land, no P-Pass, no Kelly Slater’s endless donut-inspired wavepool? No thank you! Many of us want to ensure a long, fruitful surf career, but don’t quite have the chops for a career in surfing. Fellow Glen Hallians, I am here to inform you that this particular journey can and probably should begin in the wonderful fantasy world that is college.

Four years will not only be memorable, but they will set you on a path towards your dream waves in the future. The following tips will help you optimize your college experience, while maximizing your tube time into the foreseeable future.

Tip 1: Go to a school near good waves
Does this really need an explanation? If your life revolves around wave riding, this should be a no-brainer. Don’t get stuck living somewhere that’s gonna make you miserable for 4 years. Think wave consistency, wave quality, and warmth, in that order. Some good options are UCSD, Point Loma, and UCSC on the west coast, UH in Hawaii, and UNCW in the east (fuck Florida).

Tip 2: Study something easy
This tip benefits present-day you and future you. Present-day you will love the freedom and flexibility of easy courses. Waves are pumping? Skip a class! No one’s gonna die if you never find out what Shakespeare meant by, “I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none.” Now imagine studying to be a doctor. Due to an overwhelming workload and severe surf depression, you missed the class on open-heart surgery. Ten years down the road, some guy needs a transplant, and you’re the only one around to perform the operation. Everything is going smoothly until you mix up the brachiocephalic trunk and the left common carotid artery. Beeeeeeeeeep, he’s dead. You’re a murderer. Do you want that on your conscience? Can you surf in prison? Nein. Meanwhile, the liberal-women’s-history version of you is kicking it with some fine bachelorettes at a book club every Wednesday night and sneaking in a Lowers dawn-patrol five days a week.

Tip: 3: Network
Networking sucks, and it doesn’t really help you with present-day surfing, but it can certainly lead to successful business endeavors that will facilitate future surf travel. In order to make this process less grueling, try meeting people in settings less formal than a job fair or a conference, and most importantly be original. You want to be a banker? Go to the bank and act like a big-shot who invented Guitar Hero or something. Then, refuse to speak to anyone other than the lead bankers at their executive office. If/when you get that meeting, introduce yourself and explain the whole situation to them. They might find it funny, they might not. But they sure as hell won’t forget about you like they did with those 20 other kids at the job fair.

Tip 4: Join a surf team
You hate contests, right? Most people do. Although surf teams are mostly contest-oriented on paper, in reality they’re all about having some cool friends to chill and surf with. Aside from meeting your favorite colleagues here, the surf team opens up a plethora of doors into the surf industry, if you so happen to choose that route. Tip 3 will be made 200% easier if you entrench yourself in this group.

Tip 5: Study abroad
You want to pick a good surf locale, make sure you have ample free time to frolic in the foreign culture and surf scene, and meet some helpful people along the way. Friends in new places are vital, as they can provide you with insider knowledge, some legitimacy in the lineup (“Please don’t hit me, I’m with Francisco!”), and most importantly, a place to stay for whenever you choose to return. Not to mention, this glorified 6 month surf trip will leave you feeling wildly independent and self confident. You just lived in another country for half a year, without mommy and daddy! You can do anything!

Tip 6: Get a degree
Just like that piece of shit surfboard you tried to shape a few years ago, if you’re gonna start, you might as well finish. Take a year off if you have to, find yourself, whatever, but just get the damn diploma. Nobody likes a quitter.

At the end of the day, college may help you meet great people, go on great trips, and lead a great life, but it also may not. Even with a degree, there’s still a chance you’ll end up in your parents’ basement at age 40, but hell, that happens to a percentage of pro surfers anyway. As for the receding hairline, you’re probably better off asking Kelly.

Michael Ciaramella is a student at UCSD and he surfs like this. He did not, however, invent the Guitar Hero.