Aug 22, 2012
Dear First Year College Student
I loved school. I mean, really really loved it. In high school I loved the social aspect: going to sporting events with friends in my too-cool letterman jacket, playing cards in Statistics class, even the awkward high school dances with sequined dress and ridiculous hair. In college, I just simply loved the atmosphere of learning, going to lecture (I rarely skipped a class because I'm just naturally a teacher's pet - don't hate), and spending hours in the library researching Carl Jung and Pavlov's dogs. I always said that if I could make a living out of being a student, I'd be pretty darn successful.
So this time of year is a bit nostalgic to me. I long for the scenic stretch of 460, welcoming me into the New River Valley, the Saturday morning energy of a Hokie football game, the quiet of campus before an 8am class. Despite having lived there for only a few years, Blacksburg will always be my second home.
I won't say that college was the best years of my life. In fact, I can't really say that any parts of my life have been "the best" - not that they haven't been good - but that I have learned to appreciate each part for what they have to offer and it really isn't fair to compare. I think I knew college was something great while I was living it and I made sure to really get the most of out of it. And I learned a lot.
So here's an open letter to any college student out there who has packed up their little Honda Civic, moved into a tiny musty dorm room and is about to embark upon one of the most influential and memorable times of their lives.
Dear First Year College Student:
Everyone else is scared too. They might be too cool to show it, but they are nervous. They don't know if college Biology is going to be anything like simple high school science class. They don't know what they are doing either. But don't worry. You'll make friends. And get this: you get to live with them. Yup. Slumber party 24/7. Soak it up.
Call your parents. Maybe not everyday, but call them on a regular basis. Even if its just to say "hi". They will appreciate it more than you know. And you might get a really cool care package out of it. They are probably more scared than you are.
When it's 11pm on a Wednesday night and your friends want to go do something totally random, do it. Make sure your homework is finished first, but do it. You can always nap the next day. In fact, this will be the last time in your life that you will be able (and it is normal) to take a nap. For the love college, take a nap!
Go to class. Seriously, showing up is sometimes all it takes to pass a course. Pajamas are only acceptable for classes before 10am. But let me recommend workout clothes instead. Just as comfy, slightly more put together. Then you can go straight to the gym afterwards.
Go to the gym. It's "free" and you probably won't be able to afford a gym that nice when you are in the real world. Nor will you have the time to workout at two in the afternoon.
Second key to success: use your planner. I swear, if you can do this one simple thing, you will be okay.
Missing a football game is inexcusable behavior. If your school doesn't have football, then you picked the wrong school. Kidding. Kind of.
Do not study in your dorm room. Never works out. You will get three times as much quality studying time in the library. Going to the library is cool in college and all the smart kids do it.
Don't do anything stupid. 99.9% of the time you know when you are doing something really stupid, so don't. There are no excuses.
If you are having a problem in your class, talk to your professor. Even at giant universities, they are accessible human beings who really do care about you. Their office hours aren't just for show.
Enjoy food. Your metabolism can probably handle it right now, but if not, see above ("go to the gym").
Pick the right friends. One day they will be in your wedding and you want to make sure their speeches are appropriate enough for your grandmother to hear.
Intern. Volunteer. These experiences will help you figure out what you want to do with your life. Yes, they don't pay, but you have the rest of your life to make money and no one will judge your right now for eating Ramen and cereal for dinner.
But most importantly, have fun. Be safe. Remember that while the real world is pretty great (paychecks! real food!), college has its benefits as well. You say you won't, but you'll miss it.
And I'm serious about the football games.
A nostalgic college graduate.
at 7:27:00 PM