Advice to the Incoming Class of 2017 at Barack Obama Prep

Here at Spend Matters HQ, many of us, as current and future Chicago parents, are excited by the prospects of yet another free college prep public high school in the city that could save us from having to spend additional dollars on education. What with private school tuitions starting at $16K for St. Ignatius, the best Catholic school in the area, and going much higher for the non-denominational private schools in the city, we’ll take any tuition break we can get.

But we must say, the prospects of Barack Obama College Prep have made us think about advice we’d give to the planned inaugural class of the new academy in 2017 given the name attached to the place. We asked the peanut gallery in the office to chime in on the tips they’d provide to the first incoming class. Here are 25 tips we came up with.

  1. Taking notes is antiquated, so don't write anything down. The NSA is taping all of this for posterity.
  2. Look for short colleagues in your class to befriend with bigger personalities than Napoleon.
  3. Avoid taking your motorcade to school during rush hour.
  4. Nicorette can have remarkably calming effects and improve performance.
  5. Grey hair in four years is a sign of being distinguished, not of aging.
  6. Take the sophomore elective course on covert underground operations with Bill Ayers. It is explosive!
  7. Remember, inhaling is the point.
  8. “If “birthers" challenge your citizenship or immigration status, tell them you remember before the time Mayor Daley mortgaged the city to plant flowers on Lake Shore Drive.
  9. Keep your focus on the future and talk about future promises of things to come.
  10. Speak like a boss: stay away from the specific. Details are for the little people to learn later – and you to pin them on others if it doesn't work out!
  11. Behind every student leader is a woman with fantastic biceps and an even better recipe for kale chips.
  12. There is always time for another round of golf, always.
  13. Cigarettes are OK -- as long as you're not on camera.
  14. When negotiating the acquisition of a new pet, always agree to use your parent's initial to name the first one.
  15. It may seem odd to talk to a bearded stranger who's sitting between two bushes, but if you want to get people to visit your website, chat with him awhile.
  16. Dad jeans are a practical uniform for getting things done while maintaining a casual air.
  17. Take selfies to show off how powerful your friends are and how you're a person of the people. And like a person of the people, cut people off when they become too overeager to "selfie" with you.
  18. While it may seem like a smart idea to crack the books and study with midterms just around the corner, remember that there is always time and need to fine-tune your March Madness bracket.
  19. Since you’re likely about to spend more than an hour getting to school each day over the next four years, you may actually want out of Illinois, and it'll be time to move somewhere else – Washington, D.C.’s always nice, especially if you have friends there.
  20. Surely you’ll befriend Wikipedia over the course of your studies; but don’t look up on Wikipedia the history of your school’s location if you don’t want to a) learn about Cabrini Green or b) learn about the magic of TIFs.
  21. If you want to build a small business, remember that its success won't be determined by how hard you work at it, but, rather, by the roads and bridges going past it and you didn't build any of that.
  22. Remember, there are no "food deserts" on the North Side and if you and your friends must slum it in Hyde Park whilst hungry, one of the first Whole Foods on the South Side will finally open (if all goes as planned) just before freshman classes begin. Boost camaraderie by complaining about the high prices for that food of the masses, arugula.
  23. Take a pilgrimage to the best tailor in the US (whose factory is located in the Southern part of the West Loop) to get measured up for a bespoke Oxxford Suit (which you'll eventually purchase after winning your first national election and then wear nothing else). The new "Benghazi" line, due for introduction in 2016, has a particular nice Mediterranean-inspired darted flare (with a built-in BlackBerry pocket). Can't afford the Presidential sartorial style but want to look like the leader of the free world regardless? Go to eBay.
  24. When mysterious long-lost family members from Africa show up on your doorstep looking for immigration help, tell them to come back after the class president elections.
  25. Once you graduate, go make a family and move to the North Shore ASAP so that your kids can go to New Trier instead.


With additional contributions from Taras Berezowsky, Kyle Fitzsimmons, Thomas Kase, Sydney Lazarus, Sheena Smith, Brianna Tonner, and Jeff Yoders. Points to anyone who can guess who wrote what. 

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