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Old 12-16-2012, 04:20 PM   #1
Sweet Escape
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What can take place in college?

Hi! So I guess this will be my first post here I suppose! So, I was curious because I am thinking of a college YA, I heard that there are very little things that can take place in a college setting, what do you think? I guess yeah, everyone's college experience is different, there are no authority figures telling you what you can and can not do. I do think you can write about finding yourself, learining to be on your own, friendships...

But what about fantasy or sci-fi elements with colleg settings? I think crime/thriller would be easy to do. But okay, do you think that a college setting limits a plot?
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Old 12-16-2012, 04:55 PM   #2
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College settings limiting a plot? No, if anything, they'd enhance it. You want a mystery, then think about a new student, perhaps from State A going to a college in State B, far away. He/She knows no one, so everyone's a suspect. Who to trust? Where to go for help? Does this person find love or friendship? And so on.

If you think about it, you could do pretty much anything you like.
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Old 12-16-2012, 05:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Sweet Escape View Post
Hi! So I guess this will be my first post here I suppose! So, I was curious because I am thinking of a college YA,
College isn't YA, unless you've got a high school kid participating in some sort of special program over the summer or checking out schools prior to enrolling or something. College students are generally "New Adult."


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I heard that there are very little things that can take place in a college setting, what do you think?
I'm going to guess you're in high school, because there's a TON of stuff that happens in college/university. Either that, or you mean for YA not much can be set on campus, which is usually true.

Quote:
I guess yeah, everyone's college experience is different, there are no authority figures telling you what you can and can not do. I do think you can write about finding yourself, learining to be on your own, friendships...
Again - guessing you've not actually been on a college campus. There's definitely a lot more freedom, but there are still people in charge, and you've still got restrictions on what you can and can't do. (especially if it's a private school and you don't want to get kicked out with no refund)

Quote:
But what about fantasy or sci-fi elements with colleg settings? I think crime/thriller would be easy to do. But okay, do you think that a college setting limits a plot?

It definitely doesn't limit the plot. If anything, it gives you greater freedom. I think a sci-fi or fantasy in a college would be interesting. The science department with experimental projects and grants is a great place for contemporary sci-fi. Some extra-curricular groups are great jumping-off points for fantasy.

Go for it - just don't expect it to be YA when you're done.
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Old 12-16-2012, 09:09 PM   #4
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Like the person above me it would be New Adult and it does sound like you haven't gone to college yet, but seeing as I'm currently in college I can give you some of my findings. One there are people watching over you. At my school we have security which is very strict and rules that we must follow - such as never jumping into the school fountains because its a $500 fine - so yes there is an amount of freedom that one has, but its not absolute.

It is now up to you aka your character to decide whether you want to go to class, but miss too many and you might fail or in my case miss 4 and you get kicked from the class. We actually have attendance so that hasn't changed and then there is all the homework that your character will have to do.

Frats & Sororities: While they are not as dumb as many movies like to make them out to be they are pretty stereotypical in my opinion. The guys are all obnoxious - and I have frat and sorority friends who aren't - but get them in a group with alcohol and its sad how fast their appeal goes down hill. I know my freshman year two sororities had a major rivalry going on to the point where I knew a girl who told me she was rushing Zeta and her friend KD and so her friend told her they could no longer talk. Now that has changed, but that is always something interesting to throw in.

Parties: When you aren't 21 you go to frat and house parties which are generally loud, dark, and packed. People smoke outside, drink inside, and if you aren't 21 the guys who sit out front will mark your hand so that you can't drink. Usually by 1am security breaks up a party which means you've got to move somewhere else. If you wanna drink then your character would have to pre-game in their room which requires befriending someone older with either a fake ID or an actual ID who can supply you.

Then of course you just have to deal with making friends, boyfriends, etc...

There are many crazy experiences to be had in college and they are different for every person.

Hope this helped!
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Old 12-16-2012, 09:24 PM   #5
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Meh. Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn is a YA novel set partly in college. MC is a college freshman. And the Morganville Vampire series. And Where She Went by Gayle Forman. We can call them New Adult, but that's not a section in the bookstore or library-- all those books are shelved under YA.
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Old 12-16-2012, 09:28 PM   #6
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Actually, New Adult is emerging as its own genre. In a few years, I wouldn't be surprised to see it officially recognized in bookstores (and it's already recognized online).

Yeah, it's basically a marketing gimmick...but what isn't? There was no "YA" when I was a kid. It was all just generically called "children's fiction."
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Old 12-16-2012, 09:53 PM   #7
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Are we talking college/high school, or college/university?

My university experience is I lived in a rented house, I went to class or not, I passed the course or not. There was zero oversight from any authority figures.
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:47 PM   #8
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I think it depends on what kind of controversies your MC falls into as to whether college or hs is more appropriate. If you're after the situation where teachers are around and always overlooking a students' behavior, etc. then it'll be easier and more believable to pull that off in a hs setting. But, if you'd like your characters to have more freedom and possibly more access to the world in general then college might be the way to go. This isn't to say that you couldn't swap this around a bit, but there is definitely less oversight in college. However, there are still deans and professors who will notice if you aren't in any of your classes and they may email to meet with you or something, so you could have one very mentorish professor who goes out of his/her way to check in on the student, but the general rule is that professors are there to teach not to be your parent.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:04 PM   #9
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ANYTHING can take place in college (but a YA book shouldn't).

Obviously bestselling series that continue into college and bestselling authors can probably subvert this rule.

New Adult seems to be more of a thing in self publishing, though I guess a few publishers are getting on board.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:10 PM   #10
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I'm not sure I understand the question.

You're writing fiction. Anything from unplanned pregnancies to alien invasions can start at a college. Or anywhere you like, for that matter.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:55 AM   #11
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A college setting is just as -- if not less -- limited than a high school setting. A lot more could happen in a college setting, I would say, simply because the characters are always living there.

Regarding frats and sororities: It really depends on the frat/sorority. Some of them are just as bad as the movies make them out to be. Others aren't. I know a few members of perfectly respectable sororities who aren't at all like the stereotypical ones in movies.

There's a lot of diversity on college campuses and there's so much that could happen. Anything could have a college setting: fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, romance, even historical.
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:11 PM   #12
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If my college experience from twenty years ago is any indication the list of what CAN'T happen in college is a lot shorter than the list of what can.

We broke into the engineering center in the middle of the night and played "Capture the flag." Evading security was part of the fun.

We used rock climbing gear to get to the roof of the theater where there was an unlocked door and put on impropmtu performances.

Underage drinking.

Sex. Lots of sex.

On our campus, there was an extensive network of underground passages that were supposed to be locked, but often weren't. Even if they were, some of us spent our spare time learning to pick locks. The tunnels were heated, so they were a great way to get around in the winter.

And this was in engineering school when we were also up to our necks in homework and competing against the best of the best for scholarships and internships. Imagine the kind of trouble we could have had time for if we were liberal arts majors.
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:17 AM   #13
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A college setting wouldn't limit the plot at all. Anything can happen.
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:39 AM   #14
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A college setting doesn't limit the plot at all. Even on my small liberal arts campus we get up to tons of crazy shit. Plus, colleges aren't single, bordered areas any more than high schools. There's generally a town it's located in, too, where plenty of crazy adventures can happen.


Whether or not it's YA? That depends a lot on the story.
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