How to Survive Your First Year at Miskatonic University


Welcome, freshmen! Welcome to orientation! Welcome to the seething depths of madness and mental torment—I mean the best dang college in New England! You’ve got a long, fulfilling academic career ahead of you. Under the gambrel roofs and cyclopean architecture of the historic city of Arkham, on the banks of the blood-besotted—beautiful, I mean—Miskatonic River, you lucky ducks will scream out your lives in unnamable rituals—that is, fill your puny heads with the cursed knowledge of the Elder Gods—I mean, become part of a long tradition of education and excellence that has made Miskatonic renowned throughout the land.

First, you’ll need to head to the campus bookstore and grab your textbooks. Don’t forget to nod at the portraits of our past presidents—H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, Algernoon Blackwood, Cthulhu—they don’t like being ignored. Our librarian is none other than the eminent Henry Armitage, late of Princeton and Johns Hopkins. He’ll be more than happy to help you out with any research projects or reports you’re doing. That’s his job, after all, not to protect you from the foul, nameless things in the spaces between worlds! He doesn’t mind if you learn the forbidden knowledge of the plateau of Leng, and Unknown Kadath in the icy wastes! It’s none of his concern if you go mad from the revelations contained within the Necronomicon, or any other works penned by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred!

Once you’ve got your books, it’ll be off to your first lesson. You there, what’s your name—Charles Dexter Ward?—let me see your class schedule. First-period anthropology! Excellent. The professor is Wingate Peaslee—come on guys, his name’s not that funny—Wingate Peaslee, the son of the great Dr. Peaslee, you know. I remember that the elder Peaslee—quit smirking!—retired in my freshman year. He went on an expedition to Australia and must’ve gotten into some deep yogurt, because he came back looking like he’d caught a glimpse of the things that lurk in the dark beyond the veil of reality! He writes dozens of articles, you know—prolific researcher, Peaslee is. He likes to joke that he did his best work 150 million years ago, but I have no clue what he means. He’s not that old. Don’t say anything about Yithians, mind-swapping, or time travel in his class unless you want detention.

Why, Robbie, you’re taking our beginning art course! You’re in for a fun time—Richard Pickman is an amazing artist. You’ll swear you were looking at a photograph! The man’s a masterful realist. Ranges far and wide with his camera, taking shots of landscapes and crawling, glowing-eyed monsters—probably nothing more than mangy dogs, of course—to populate his works. Most artists sit next to windows and paint, don’t they? Not Pickman. The classroom is in the cellar. Be sure to bring flashlights with you, you lucky ducks! There’s no light save for candles, and class starts at 10:00 PM sharp. The Professor asked me to warn you guys about the rats. There are some super-duper rats down there in that cellar. And as for what you’ll be painting—ho ho ho, wouldn’t you like to know! Make sure you’ve got extra batteries!

Don’t look so glum, dudes! You didn’t think classes and homework was all there was to Miskatonic University, did you? We’ve got tons of extracurricular activities on campus to stave off the creeping horrors—I mean, fill up your spare time. There’s the telecommunications club, for one thing. Dr. Carter’s in charge. Yes, I know the rumors going around about Randolph Carter. I’ll dispel them for you: he was acquitted of all charges. There wasn’t a shred of evidence to suggest he murdered Harley Warren. The official story is that the two of them were exploring a graveyard in Big Cypress Swamp and Warren just walked off into a tomb and disappeared. Poor Carter took the whole affair rather hard. Ever since the acquittal he’s been on the phone with who-knows-who trying to find out what happened.

There’s also the Urban Exploration Club. They’ve had great successes. Their first conquest was the old cathedral in the middle of town—you know, the one supposedly haunted by that giant bat-beast with the three-lobed burning eye? The one that drove the journalist stark raving mad last year? Oh, they dispelled all those fanciful rumors. Of course, two students were never heard from again, but I’m sure they’ll turn up at some point. They always do! Eventually…

That about covers it, guys! Remember, college should be a fun experience, and even the looming threat of the destruction of all humanity by forces totally beyond our comprehension shouldn’t deter you from that. Keep your noses to the grindstone, but remember to let your hair down once in a while! We have monthly bonfires on top of Summit Hill, and you’re all invited. Freshman are particularly popular, in fact! See Old Mr. Whateley if you want to take part. And don’t open the cellar door when you’re at his house. His son’s still in the sensitive stage.

Don’t forget to sign up for the field trip out to the Blasted Heath next week, either. I hear a meteorite fell to earth near there a while ago, and the plant and animal life have taken some funny turns. Nahum Gardner has a farm out that way; he’ll show you around. Just don’t mention his poor son. Or his wife. Or his livestock. Or his skin condition.

And last but not least, I’ll teach you the school cheer. Yell it loud when our good old Whippoorwills start marching down the field on game day. It goes like this:

  Iä! Shub-Niggurath! 


Image credit:

Andrew T. Post

Andrew T. Post

Andrew T. Post graduated from North Dakota State University in December of 2007, when the weather was so cold that Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick. He took his degree in journalism and put it to good use, penning sententious articles on his blog and works of short science fiction. In early 2012 he packed his bags and sought occupational asylum in the Republic of South Korea, where he lives in a ninth-floor apartment and works as an English teacher. He is a licensed pilot, a classically-trained bartender, and an unapologetic punster whose first novel is currently seeking a venue.