Tech in the early/mid 1980s does not seem to be
all that different from how it is now. My
overall experience was quite bleak. There's a certain emotional
vacuum there; the campus is expansive and foreboding, and there's
a certain gritty urbanness to it. Even though Tech
is sort of a little island with downtown to the
south, midtown to the east, industrialville to the west, and
a stripe of ancient residentia and interminable construction to the
north, you feel more hemmed in than comfortably isolated.
If you are stressed out and/or having social, family,
financial, or grade problems, the people around you are generally
operating with so little reserves left that they cannot form
a support system or safety net. Your friends can
cheer you up but they are generally not able to
actually help you. The Dean of Students Office provides
assistance services that you should take advantage of; my experience
there would have been better if I had.
I would recommend that GT students forge ties with people
their own age outside of GT and get off campus
Even in cattle-call first and second
year classes, I never had any professors who were just
bastards, save one. He was a Physics professor who
took up a sample of homework assignment folders every day
at random (there had to be over 100 kids in
the class) and he dinged mine for not being current
- he wrote some snotty comment like “How do you
expect to pass when you don't put in the time?”
My folder wasn't current because his lectures were a
day behind the homework schedule, basically - and I decided
I'd go see him about it because I didn't want
his opinion of me (blip though I would have been
on his screen) to be based on a comment like
that especially since it was *his* schedule that had slipped.
While arguing with him about this in his office,
I got fed up with him calling me “Mr. Doe”
over and over again and I finally said, “Look, just
call me 'John',” to which he replied, “I always call
my students by their last names.” I said, “I
think that if you can be so personal with me
as to write a note like that in my folder,
you can be personal enough with me to call me
by my first name.” He fell silent, and then
he apologized. After that, we had a real nice
conversation, especially since I was genuinely interested in the field.
I think that was one of the first conflicts
I ever had that I resolved maturely.
Speaking of which:
by and large, Georgia Tech professors will respond favorably
to you if you actually give a rat's about the
material. If you don't, change your major. A
few of the “shaftiest” professors will bend over backwards if
you come to them with a good attitude seeking help.
It's easy to find out what their research areas
are in without even asking them; chat them up about
Some high school graduates must really
dream about getting into a fraternity or sorority once they
hit college. My opinion of Greek organizations was low
then, and after almost 20 years of mellowing out, I
think it's a bad idea. That doesn't mean you
should avoid Greeks; in fact, it's probably a real good
idea to have a few as friends so that you're
welcome at their houses. But, the toll in time,
money, attention, dignity - I just don't see the payoff.
Fraternity rushing still seems to center around some sort
of debasing and cruel activity, and while that's probably not
universal, it's not as though you can really research these
Unless someone is holding a gun to your head
to graduate by such-and-such a semester, take light loads and
genuinely try to enjoy yourself. Find school activities that
draw people you're compatible with.
Take advantage of
the exercise facilities.
Distinguish yourself. In
a group where everyone dresses the same? Dress a
bit differently. Don't overdo it, but be expressive and
Only go to Georgia Tech if
they offer a program that you're really interested in.
If you're a science/technology type but can't decide on a
major, don't bother deciding for a couple of semesters or
pick one that seems okay knowing that you can switch.