Posted by: charityliz | September 14, 2011


Fact:  College students are one of the most fun and energizing populations to work with.

Challenge: Keeping up with the never-ending updates in trends, lingo and pop-culture that define the students’ world.

… So I was writing an email to students the other day.  It was an invitation to come to this workshop that I’ll be doing— about starting the semester out on the right foot, and covering the basic and not-so-basic student success strategies.   Despite my hope that students would choose to attend the workshop from pure intrinsic motivation, I no fool–and I know that most students need a more tangible and immediately gratifying reason to spend their free-time going to a workshop offered on a Friday afternoon.  So I make sure to include free food and free stuff—like pizza, T-shirts and other college memorabilia.

But instead of just saying free food and free stuff, I decide to try to be hip and cool, and I come up with “Be sure to come to the workshop and get free lunch and free schwag!”

Yes! My email is complete.  Light, fun and totally hip!  But at the last minute, I decide to google schwag, just to make sure I’m spelling it right.  And I’m horrified at the very first link that appears in my google search.  My jaw just about dropped to my keyboard as I read the definition for schwag in the

1. Schwag  
  adj. Term used to describe low grade marijuana. This type of marijuana is usually brown, seedy, dry. The term is also used by many pot heads to describe anything that is low grade.
noun. low grade marijuanaadj- Ewww this schwag ass weed tastes horrible and it didnt get me very high. 
noun- I hate smoking schwag, but i cant get any dank right now so i guess i’ll have to.

Fact:  Apparently old/naive folks (i.e. me) use the word schwag to describe free clothes or free stuff, which is definition #2 in Meanwhile, the truly hip and urban generation uses schwag to describe one of their drugs of choice.

Relief: finding out the above fact before I emailed an invitation to new freshmen, inviting them to enjoy some free lunch and schwag while I teach them about the secrets of student success.



  1. OMGoodness!!! This made me laugh so hard! And how about I’m right there with you on what I *thought* “schwag” was supposed to mean.

  2. I think it is all that Bay Area air you’ve been breathing…

  3. Perhaps the closely related ‘swag’ would be better for next time. At least the first three definitions on urbandictionary won’t make you blush, and the fourth is what you want. Oh, and thank goodness for google!

  4. Charity!!!!! It’s S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get) from that episode of the office where Michael goes to a conference with Dwight just for the SWAG.
    Bahhhahah. You are so funny! i love it!

  5. love it charity! you have me laughing!

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