Why Every College Student Should Read Thoreau's "Walden"

Why Every College Student Should Read Thoreau's "Walden"

How questioning everything can help you answer daunting life questions.
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College is all about choices.

Unfortunately, the choices we’re tasked with making throughout these four years can often feel overwhelming or daunting in scope. The simple question: “What major should I choose?” naturally encourages the thought: “Which career path should I go down?” which spirals into: “Who do I want to become?” and culminates with the nigh unsolvable philosophical quandary: “What do I hope to get out of life?”

Coming up with the right answers seems to require an almost inhuman amount of foresight for a young adult. Whether we like it or not, college, as the final rung on the educational ladder, is the time in our life that society has designated for us to confront these questions.

Uncoincidentally, it’s also a point where society, with all its constructs and rules, seems to impress itself most heavily onto our choices. Societal opinion leaks into our decision-making process daily. We’re told what we need out of life. We’re told what is respectable and what isn’t. We’re essentially told how we should live, and it’s hard to feel like it’s possible to live any other way.

We may lock ourselves down a pre-med track even if we lack the temperament for it because that’s what mother wants us to do, or that’s what we’re told will make us successful or garner respect.

That’s why it’s especially important now, against a backdrop of increasing social pressure, to step back and read the most anti-society piece of literature ever written: Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.”

It exudes such an absurd level of angst that it puts Kurt Cobain’s raspy baritone to shame. In fact, it's essentially Good Charlotte’s classic pop-punk hit “The Anthem” except 300 pages in length and eloquent in prose.

Although Thoreau — a 19th century American Transcendentalist and Romanticist — lived in an age quite unlike ours, his work still holds up in relatability and relevance. Like us, Thoreau reached a point in his life where he was confronted with daunting choices and questions. However, he realized that society was the only thing forcing him to confront those choices in the first place.

Thoreau’s response to this realization was “Walden,” a two-week experiment in which he lived off in the woods. Through his writings, Thoreau offers an incredibly revealing look at society – from the outside perspective in. He puts nearly every social construct under the microscope – even some of our most deeply rooted – tears them apart and flips them on its head.

The rich are poor. The young are wiser than the old. Good is bad.

He observes his fellow townsmen, toiling in their respective occupations, and writes:

“Men labor under a mistake… most men are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them… He has no time to be anything but a machine.”

We’ve chosen to live as society dictates, or as Thoreau puts it, “the common mode of living” because we don’t think that there is any choice left. “Walden” tells us that there is always another choice. It highlights the absurdity of society, putting our own lives into perspective and forcing us to question our own place in the world. In the process, Thoreau calls to mind simple truths, seemingly obvious, but eminently revealing nonetheless.

You might be thinking, "How does living in the woods and sticking the finger to society help me resolve any of the pressing life questions I face as a college student?"

Now, I don’t think everyone should escape their problems and go on a lifelong camping trip in the woods. But I do think that it’s important to mentally detach ourselves from social convention every once in a while, take a deep breath, and begin questioning everything around us. As Thoreau said himself:

“No way of thinking or doing, however ancient can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true today may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow…”

In doing so, we can better identify which of our choices are being motivated by public opinion rather than what truly matters—our own personal reflection. Perhaps only then can we make the decisions that are right for us.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.
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Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

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The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.

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Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.


Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.


After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

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