My first “contract-signed” job was in Central Pennsylvania teaching 7th grade. I consider it my first “real” job teaching although I had held long-term positions before this. To complete the circle, I drove four hours to watch them graduate this past June and heard all about their big plans for college. I have seen pictures of them moving into their dorm rooms and heard stories about orientation, worst first week ever, etc. This open letter is to them – or anyone heading off to college or currently in college.
- Don’t worry about getting enough sleep. Yes, sleep is important, but so is soaking up every minute of what may be the best years of your life. (Don’t believe high school was – for me – life only got better in college.)
- Talk to strangers. Freshman year I introduced myself to a cute boy in class and asked if he wanted to study because we had a few classes together. Today – he is one of the most loyal friends that I have. He even dropped everything one weekend to drive five hours to help me pack my apartment and move.
- Wear sweatpants to class. Not always – but sometimes. It’s refreshing to be able to roll out of bed and just sit through a lecture knowing you can go back and nap in 50 minutes.
- Make yourself beautiful for class sometimes. You never know who you will bump into in class, in a building, on the sidewalk.
- Be careful about those “cute” outfits you choose. I once sat through an entire class with my thong showing. (Thanks to my very good friend – see #2 – for always bringing that up….)
- Be safe if/when you drink. You need someone to look out for you. Thank you to my freshman best friend who made me Ramen Noodles and raspberry iced tea the night before finals – and let me sleep in her room to make sure I was awake in time for my final.
- If a relationship isn’t working, don’t spend all of your time trying to repair it. I spent a better part of three years in a “friendship” that I deemed as something more – only to have my heart broken. I missed out on some great dudes during that time I’m sure. When I finally did move on, I experienced what real relationships could be like. And let me tell you, some of the people I dated after the guy who lead me on…are still my friends today.
- Stressing over classes, tests, finals, etc. is normal. Trust me, though – I would take stressing over studying for my finals over Adulting any day. You will one day miss it. I once fell asleep reading a novel I was supposed to read for a class and the final was the next day. The book literally was open on my chest when I woke up the next morning – half read. I still passed.
- Listen closely in class and take notes. A lot of the time – simply paying attention and taking good notes will save you on tests. (It did me at least…)
- You can keep your high school friends and still have room for college friends. Your college friends are the ones that will get you through some of the worst, toughest, most devastating moments of your life. Be there for them in the same way.
- Save money if you can. Take a cheap mason jar – you can get one for $1 at A.C. Moore – and super glue the lid. Cut a slit in the top and shove some money in there from time to time. I wish I had saved money when I was in college. (I’m just now using the mason jar idea. You’re welcome.)
- DON’T run up a credit card. I swore mine would only be used for gas. Then it became gas and groceries. Then gas, groceries, clothes, make-up, dinners out, etc., etc. and by the time I was out of college – not only was I in debt because of loans, but I also had run up my credit card. (Luckily I never increased my limit on it, so it was capped at about $1,250.)
- Take classes seriously. I had an afternoon science class clear across campus that I often skipped because well – I just didn’t feel like going. I had to re-take it because I got a “D”. I was stupid.
- It’s okay to skip class sometimes. Just don’t make it a habit like I did with science. Sometimes I didn’t feel well, so I slept in and didn’t go to class. Most classes have a limit of how many classes you can miss (unless it’s a huge auditorium class like my science class). It’s not like high school, though. It’s all on you to figure out what you missed and catch up.
- Have parties at your apartment when you get one. Dance on tables with your roommates. Stay up all night talking. Don’t miss out on something because you are afraid, but embrace that it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Good luck, kiddos. If I think of more…well I will write again…