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Tomorrow two families who are my good friends have children who are graduating high school, so we will spend the afternoon celebrating with them at two, slightly overlapping, parties. I've known both the young man and young woman since they were little ones and it is stunning to see them heading off to college. Coincidentally they are both attending the same university where my daughter is pursuing an advanced degree to be a school librarian. I thought some words of advice from me and all of you would be timely...

FOR EMILY AND HAYDEN (and all you other grads):
As the mother of two college-aged students I have some words of wisdom for those going off to school:

1) Don't overpack. For my daughter's first time away at school, we had to borrow a relative's big honkin' vehicle to cart all of the stuff to her school. There was only an unloading zone to throw your stuff on the lawn (luckily I brought a tarp!) and then drive away to park elsewhere. The large-ish refrigerator she purchased had to be carried up FOUR flights of stairs by my poor hubby with his bad back. (Cleverly, I volunteered to safeguard the belongings.)

2) Don't underpack. My son traveled across the US from NY to Cal State and only brought a rolling duffel and a backpack. My mother was heartbroken to see a photo of his place with his clothes strategically thrown over the clothes bar in the closet. (No hangers.) He didn't take a comforter or pillows ("Who needs matchy-matchy?" he claimed.)

3) Join a club. If you aren't in a sport, band, or student government, make sure you find people with common interests. You can volunteer to be on a committee for the student association, play intramural sports, or sign up for ultimate frisbee. Don't just sit in your room.

4) Go outside your comfort zone. If you find yourself alone at dinner, sit with someone else who is alone or ask to join a group. Attend gatherings, if you are invited to a study group...try it out. Sit near someone in a class and introduce yourself. College is about meeting new people.

5) Travel in packs. I could tell you horror stories about students I've known who walked home from a bar alone, went jogging on a trail sans friends, or ran out to their car at night to grab their phone. Your mom was right when she said there is safety in numbers.

6) Buy used textbooks.
Unless you have ocd and can't tolerate highlighting, save your money and buy a previously owned book.

7) Try new things. When I was in college I took a phys. ed. class every semester...I got to try trampoline, fencing, and badminton. My son discovered he could draw (really well, I might brag)  in a class he took for fun, and my husband turned out to be a crack photographer.

8) Monitor your own progress. My daughter's boyfriend had to go one extra semester because his adviser made a mistake. A costly mistake. To the tune of an apt rental for an additional seven months, another semester in college, and a year's delay in starting grad school. By all means, see and discuss with the person the college assigns to you. But...check for yourself, talk to favorite professors, parents, older siblings,  upper classmates, etc. Keep a record of your requirements, transcripts, communications, etc.

9) Watch your alcohol intake. As someone who taught on the college level, I can attest that alcohol abuse has been the downfall of many a student. Decisions made under the influence are not always the best ones and late nights of partying make morning classes difficult.

10.) Have fun! Look for free and inexpensive things to do on your campus. Movie night, museums, sporting events, guest speakers, concert? Don't forget to explore the local are where you live. If you don't have a car, investigate public transportation, or get a used bike. Sign up for day trips or overnights if you can afford it.

Best of Luck,
Mrs. Light

PS: It should go without saying...but STUDY! Don't procrastinate or cram. Plan ahead and study daily. After all, you want to stay in school.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
feel free to wear sunscreen...
Wear sunscreen! No, No, but really, check out this graduation speech/poem it tells you everything you will ever need to know, EVER!




Jun. 28th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
Re: feel free to wear sunscreen...
I remember that speech - it was a good one. Your advice to college students? Something about appreciating that time perhaps? After all, you went to college online while serving overseas in the Army, right?
Jun. 27th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)
College advice
The only thing worse than gaining the "Freshman Fifteen" is gaining the Freshman 20- which I did because I completely ignored the fact that ordering chicken wings and pizza every night with my roommates might cause me to gain weight. The fact that I practically spent every waking and sleeping moment in sweatpants also helped me avoid this realization until it was all too late. My advice- remember to mix in some healthy foods- most take out places have fried veggies I think :) But seriously, eat healthy, it will help you feel and look good.
Jun. 28th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC)
Re: College advice
That is great advice! I know so many kids who cared about their health and bodies and then not eat healthily when they go to school. Thanks for the input. :)
Jun. 29th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
You gave great advice!

If I were going to add one thing, it would be:

If you have a chance to do anything in another country while you are in college--take it! There's no better time for experiencing another culture.

Edited at 2009-06-29 10:38 pm (UTC)
Jun. 30th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
You nailed that one - that truly is one of my biggest regrets in my life. I really wish I had done a semester abroad in college. I don't remember any of my friends doing it, and I only looked into it. My list of Things to Do Before I Die includes a summer semester as Oxford. I'm glad to see college students today have more resources allowing them to travel. (I did plenty of traveling with my Air Force family, though!)
Jul. 1st, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
Take courses in subjects that interest you. But don't let one bad professor cause you to change majors. Use whatever time is given before declaring your major. You might doubt your original choice just to return to it two months later. Some majors will set you on a specific path with a job at the end, but if you dream of studying medieval art history, go for it. Enough passion in a subject can take you far in life. After all, I was a creative writing major (after I was an international relations major after I was an integrated engineering and management major), which brought me to library science.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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