Dan SchlosserWho can spout heartfelt advice, list types of cheese, and talk about working for Google – almost all in one breath? Why, Dan, of course. SEAS Senior Dan Schlosser is getting ready to leave this place, and this “Masshole” has some wisdom to share.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Dan Schlosser, SEAS, Computer Science with a minor in Music, born and raised in Lexington, MA, home of the Shot Heard Round the World, tri-corner hats, and other 1770’s fads.

Claim to fame: I’m a four-year board member of ADI, was once the president of Design for America, and am widely known as an over-zealous tabler at Days on Campus. I hang out with CUIT admins sometimes; I definitely spent some quality time pushing for Vergil and PawPrint. I probably yelled something at you about DevFest. I build websites to relax.

Where are you going? I’m going to live in San Francisco, working for Google as a “people person.” On the side, I’ll be building websites at Minimill, a design agency I founded with a friend from UMD.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2020?

1) Live selfishly. Don’t waste time trying to live up to expectations of your friends, family, or classmates. Instead, figure out what you need and give it to yourself. For me, that meant distinguishing being introverted and being shy or antisocial. I spent way too much time going to parties that I hated being at or feeling guilty for making up excuses to skip them or leave early. I’ve learned that I’m a social introvert. I love my friends and I have a big outgoing personality when I’m “on,” but spending time with people tires me out. Learning to think about what I need and creating a balance between time with others and time in my dorm working or just vegging out has made me a much happier person.

2) Whatever you do, do it with love. Whether it’s classes or research or a sports team or a tech club, find something you’re passionate about, and don’t stop doing it until they hand you your diploma and take away your swipe access. There will always be people that remind you what you’re giving up when you dedicate your time to something. Don’t listen to them. Looking back, I don’t regret any minute spent standing on a table in eighty-degree heat waving a sign at the Activities Fair. I don’t regret spending hours making the slide deck for DevFest, or writing workshops for ADI. I don’t regret any time spent in ADI’s infamous 4-hour meetings, or writing a 1700-word email about our club’s structure (over the summer). I don’t regret the countless unproductive meetings with administrators, or the late nights doing homework after Cookies and Code. Ultimately, if you’re doing something you love, you won’t regret it. If you go to Columbia, you’re most likely a smart, capable person. You’ll find time to do the other stuff. Find what you love and don’t let go.

3) Columbia’s “lack of community” is a myth. This is an idea that’s drilled into us a bunch throughout our time here, and it creates a confirmation bias that’s hard to break. Columbia doesn’t have much school spirit, for sure, but community is something different. I have found an amazing community of friends at Columbia who have supported me and challenged me and made me who I am today. I didn’t find these friends at Bacchanal or at a frat party or at Homecoming, true, but I found them. I found them in ADI, one of the most loving and inspiring communities I’ve been a part of for my four years here – a group of people that brought me up and gave me a home on campus. I found them in DFA, where some of the most thoughtful and smart people at Columbia come together to learn and support each other and to give back. I found them on Carman 9, and in the ADI House, and on study abroad trips. I found them in practice rooms and in the Milano’s line and even in some of my classes. Columbia has amazing communities of all kinds; you will find yours.

“Back in my day…” Spec was a newspaper and Senior Wisdom asked for your favorite Hamdel sandwich.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer. In 2015, I took a picture of everything I ate. Then, I put those pictures on a website.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? UGH so many… definitely Honors Math for keeping me humble, Senior Spring Basketball for keeping me cocky, and Cryptography of Financial Processes for the most “mind-blown” moments. Ohhh plus shoutout to Natural Language Processing in the flipped classroom with Michael Collins. That class was amazing.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Off the top of my head I can name 20 kinds of cheese (see appendix) and only two kinds of oral, so I think the choice is clear.

One thing to do before graduating: Stay up late enough when no one is around, head to the center of campus, and just lie down in the middle of Low Plaza for a while. If you’re stressed, or feeling like you don’t belong, or feeling sad, or feeling anything, there’s nothing quite like saying “You know what Columbia, I got in here, I can lay where I please.”

Any regrets? I definitely regret not going to office hours. I almost never went to office hours in my time here; either I was too cocky or too embarrassed or too confused or something. It wasn’t until I became a TA and was forced to hold office hours of my own that I realized how stupid I was. If I did it again, I would spend a lot more time getting to know my professors and TAs and a lot less time cooped up in my room struggling with my work.

Appendix A: Types of cheeses
American, Asiago, Bleu, Cheddar, Cottage, Cream, Feta, Goat, Gouda, Gruyere, Head, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pepper Jack, Provolone, Ricotta, String, Swiss, Taco Blend, Whiz.

Can we request a website for that Cheese Appendix? via Dan Schlosser