Arizona State University graduate Brian Ary considers his new book, "Warning: College Unauthorized," a work of public service.
The book, released by PublishAmerica last month, provides an insider’s perspective to the final year of high school and the first few years at college, specifically at ASU.
The intent was to cover topics that college freshmen are unlikely to find in official guidebooks, Ary said.
"Nobody tells you that your mailbox is going to be full with like five or six credit cards with $5,000 limits apiece," Ary said. "When you get a credit card like that, you think it’s like free money, so you just go nuts. I know a lot of people, once they get out of school, have like $30,000 in credit debt."
Ary also covers the necessity of waiting in line overnight to secure premium parking permits, the lure of high-stakes gambling, roommate culture clashes, "hooking up" and the relationship between classroom seat selection and grades, among other topics. He discusses it all in frank language.
Ary, 25, graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism in 2002, which, based on the experiences described in the book, was a feat unto itself. He didn’t exactly start off as a model student.
He set the tone early for his first few years at college. It happened to be raining during the first two days of classes in 1997, so he never left his dorm room at Palo Verde East. Instead, he passed the time playing video games.
In one of the most poignant passages, he describes arriving at his parents’ house in Phoenix after his second beerclouded year at ASU.
"I noticed both my parents were in tears like a family member had just passed. Frantically, I asked what was going on. In my father’s right hand was a letter explaining I, their youngest son, was ‘disqualified’ from school. The music screeched to a halt. The proverbial house lights were abruptly turned on. The big party was over. My sophomore year, I was kicked out of college," he wrote.
He enrolled in summer school and focused on his grades for the first time. A year later, he applied to the journalism program. Again, a letter was waiting at his parents’ house.
"I took a deep breath, slid my finger underneath the opening and skimmed the first paragraph of the letter until I came to ‘Congratulations. You have been acce . . .’ I didn’t even read the rest. Immediately, I threw my hand up in the air, stomped my feet and did the holy ghost dance like I was in a Baptist church on a warm Sunday afternoon."
Ary wrote the book mostly during his final two years at ASU, though it omits his senior year and his seemingly impossible graduation. Those will be the topics of a sequel, he said.
The original, which is ridiculously funny, depressing and revealing, is available at warningcollege.com.