“I’ve learned one thing, and that’s to quit worrying about stupid things. You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You'll never remember class time, but you'll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don't have. Drink 'til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does…"
-TOM PETTY

Dear Mr. Petty,

First of all, I’ve always been a fan of your music. I mean your album Damn the Torpedoes was real good. There’s just this thing I needed to bring up with you. You know that quote of yours that is posted everywhere? The one about not taking life too seriously and just having fun with your friends and whatnot?

Yeah, um, you should really be more careful with what you say.

You see Mr. Petty, I followed your advice quite meticulously. Now perhaps this was not a wise move on my behalf, but at the time I looked up to you and counted on you, as well as your guidance.

When you advise to “stay out late and go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday,” I assumed you knew what you were talking about. That is why I did exactly that, going out on a Tuesday when I had a paper due on Wednesday. However, I came home wasted and didn’t finish that paper. Turns out that paper was worth 30% of my grade.

I failed that class.

I probably should have learned my lesson after that incident, but I apparently did not. The very next sentence in your well-known quote, you advocate the reader to “spend money you don’t have” and “drink ‘til sunrise.” Well, guess what.

That advice is complete and utter garbage. Rereading it now, it may literally be the worst suggestion I have ever heard in my all of my existence.

What constructive trait could possibly come from spending money you don’t have or drinking until sunrise? Maybe in your world, Tom, a mound of credit card debt isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps in your world, a violent case of alcoholism is just no biggy.

Possibly the most frustrating and overlooked portion of your quote is the fact that you never even attended college yourself, which I find not only ridiculous but also highly irresponsible. I thought that it was common knowledge that before one gives advice on a specific topic (in this case, “college”), they have experienced it themselves to some extent.

Your "advice" has literally ruined my life. Even if my university does decide to readmit me from my academic probation, the issue will be moot; I cannot afford to pay for tuition. (I quit my job immediately after reading your quote.)

I can’t even get a loan because of my terrible credit score. Maybe if a certain someone didn’t decide to tell me to be financially irresponsible none of this would have happened. But you did. So thanks for that.


Sincerely,

Guy Who Took Your College Quote Way Too Literally