4 ways, if you count ridiculous facial hair.
It's not the best time to be among the rising generation. There are (allegedly) no jobs, trillions of dollars of student loan debt, generally inept people in charge, it's a lot to take in. Gambling your future on the idea that a four-year college degree is going to somehow dig you out of the hole you're thrust into by today's world is a frightening concept that thousands upon thousands of college students are presently risking anyway because maybe they'll get lucky and get a job so they can finally be their own person. The whole college experience is no longer a definite road to greater success, and is instead more like the teenage death tournament depicted in the overly popular Suzanne Collins novel, "The Hunger Games".
"Ooh, hurry up with the list, son" --Woody Harrelson, regular reader of this blog probably.
Point #1: Freshman Orientation
"Yes, we're all very excited to be here."
Katniss Everdeen is a poor girl from a poor part of the country. She engages in illegal activity in order to barely support her little sister and her mother--who is notably unable to care for her awfully named daughters on her own. The father isn't around, which leaves Katniss alone in the world except for her sister Prim whom she loves, and co-criminal Gale. Once a year, the rich insufferable snobs from the capitol come to Katniss' dirt-poor town and offer two random individuals within a certain age range a great and terrible chance at escaping the hell-hole they've known all their lives. The capitol is going to parade Katniss around as a hero and send her to the Hunger Games, and hopefully we're dropping enough hints for you to pick up on them by now...
Hey kid, stick around afterward, we need you to fill out some paperwork so we can legally show your face to all those inner city voters. I mean Americans.
We aren't going to waste internet space on one more dumb article about how much we should hate the fabled "1%", because we're not convinced that all rich and powerful people are inherently evil; we are convinced that there's entirely too much political incentive in helping out a handful of poor kids for the sake of looking awesome in the spotlight. Politicians do this all the time-- all a campaign really is, at its core, is a year-long PR blitz engineered to convince as many voters as possible how unbelievably fantastic of a person the campaigning individual happens to be."The Hunger Games" easily conveys to a reader the idea of "look at how dumb this is, these rich capitol people thinking they look good but everyone actually sees right through them", but for some reason people often fail to recognize this in its non-ficticious manifestation. Spend a week or two in downtown Memphis and you'll realize how plucking a kid every so often from the ghetto and sending him to a university isn't going to do jack for the rest of the kids dropping out of high school everyday.
Point #2: Picking A Major
Whether this is from the movie or Arizona State's homecoming parade, nobody can say for certain.
Upon Katniss' arrival to the big city there's a parade for all the various districts, each specializing in different goods supplied to the capitol; these goods line up nicely with majors offered at a university. District 3 represents electrical engineering, District 8 is interior design, Districts 9, 10, and 11 are all agricultural science, and so on. Some goods (and, in turn, some majors) are more significant than others. The electronics district is much better off then Katniss' mining district or any of the agricultural science kids. Also, the other kid from her district is an art major, which sucks for him because that means he's totally going to die. He kind of knows it already.
Art majors are like real-world red shirts.
"Surviving" the Hunger Games is akin to surviving out in the real world, paying off a massive student loan, or in any way overcoming any burden placed on the backs of struggling college kids in today's economic climate. The short time the contestants (students) are given to train in their respective strengths is all they have before being pitted against each other in the Hunger Games tournament, which we will treat as though it represents the world after graduation. We're not claiming that Collins meant her books to actually mean any of this, as so many awful english teachers are wont to do with so many works of literature, but we are saying teens competing in a ferocious killing competition and searching for a job post-grad isn't as different as we'd all prefer it to be.
Point #3: Most Students Waste Time Developing Useless Talents
The Training Center is where the 24 Hunger Games tributes develop the skills they already naturally excel in, usually ignoring the level of usefulness that skill holds when it comes time to surviving the tournament (which is like, life, remember). Katniss is blessed with a natural talent that will give her a fair advantage over many of the other students, though the privileged students are obviously still better prepared and generally superior in most areas due to their lifetime of training for the games. They know it too; the jerks already know they've got a far better chance of "surviving" out in the tournament (getting hooked up with a job, affording a nice home, whatever "winning" life means to you).
At the end of their time in the university/training center, the contestants are graded according to how well their superiors think they'll do in the games. These judges don't know the kids all that well and base everything they believe a contestant is capable of off a relatively short test considering how ridiculously large the impact of the test is on what's left of the kid's life. The test score will directly affect how many "sponsors" the contestant receives in the game-- sponsors in the hunger games come in the form of gift baskets of medical supplies, weapons, and other invaluable advantages over the other contestants.
Sponsors are like real-life cheat codes.
In life, those sponsors are high-powered references on a resume or a connection with the boss of a major company, any advantage that others are guaranteed not to have since it is specific to an individual. Just as a Hunger Games contestant's arbitrary "score" (which is given by somewhat uninterested judges) directly impacts that contestant's chances of receiving sponsors and therefore surviving the game, so too does a lazy college professor's grade on a vague final exam have such lasting effects on a student's career post-graduation that though small, it can mean the difference between landing a job and beginning a promising career, and being back at a parent's house working at Papa Johns. Did we just equate living at home and delivering pizza with being stabbed in the throat by a teenage girl? Yes, we did.