(And it’s not even Thanksgiving!)
I’ve been seeing Graduation stuff everywhere lately and it’s got me reflecting. It’s literally been 12 years since I graduated from High School. It’s gone by in the blink of an eye. Just yesterday I was this classy, ambitious young coed with nothing but academic promise and career achievements ahead of me:
The 80’s (theme dances) were a crazy party time for all of us. Fun fact, one of the people in this picture is now a doctor and one is a successful sales manager. The other one writes a blog.
Now I’m just a washed up, bedraggled mother of two. Sometimes I don’t even have time to put on my mom jeans*…
(*I can’t post a picture of how I really look during the day on the off chance my husband reads my blog.)
Anyway, I recently came across a file on my computer of the letter I gave to my nephew when he started his Freshman year of college. I have modified it slightly but I will share it with you now in case you know any young grads who could use some tough love advice. Also, what do you wish someone would have told you about college when you graduated from High School? Feel free to comment with your I-wish-someone-told-me’s!
It wasn’t that long ago that I was in college and there are a few things I want to tell you.
- College is the first place where your success is really up to you. You are on your own. Your professors are nothing like your high school teachers. They don’t know your parents or your potential and the only thing they care about is that you respect them enough to show up and participate. College classes are technically the “reason” that you go to college, yet they have little to do with what you will remember about your four years there. I will tell you a secret…college classes aren’t that hard as long as you show up. Challenge yourself to have perfect attendance and pay attention. You will be shocked at how much your peers struggle with this concept of not skipping class. They will wonder how school is so “easy” for you because no one told them that it really is and they don’t show up or pay attention enough to notice for themselves. I will say again, you are completely on your own. No one cares if you go to class or not. The only person you can rely on to keep you on the path toward success is yourself. You have nothing better to do with your daytime hours than to show up at class. Every day. Decide right now that it’s a priority and your academic career will be smooth sailing from day one.
- Protect your reputation (both now and in the future.) One of the magical things about college is that no one knows anything about each other. No one knows if you were popular in middle school, what kind of house you grew up in, who your parents are, or who you’ve dated. If you want to keep it that way, then by all means, only share what you want to share. But never lie or be ashamed of the experiences you have gone through to make you the person you are today.
- Protect the reputations of others. This may come as a shock to you, but you are going to meet a lot of girls at college and many of them will not act like ladies. Some of them will have no self-respect and no sense of self worth, and the sad thing is they don’t even know it yet because they are on their own for the first time too. Please learn to recognize this and don’t take advantage of it even when the opportunity is tempting. Remind yourself that every girl you meet is someone’s Avery. Be a gentleman and treat them with respect even when they don’t ask for it or deserve it. In your choice of lady, be selective. Be discriminating. Dare I say, be classy.
- When things get too heavy or dramatic, rely on your sense of humor. Be self-deprecating and you will never lack for friends. This will actually make you more confident. Good comedians know this and use it to make people feel comfortable around them. Don’t ever use your wit to make people laugh at someone else’s expense.
- Be goofy, ridiculous, and spontaneous, but don’t do anything illegal. You have a target on your back. There are bitter people out there who are just waiting for you to slip up. Don’t ever, ever do anything that could jeopardize the reputation of yourself, your family, or the University. They are offering you the privilege of a lifetime, and although it might seem like you are already “in”, the reality is that they are now expecting you to earn what they have promised to you. You have been granted a seat at the table and now you have to prove to everyone that you deserve to be there. Stay humble. Stay grateful. This school is taking a chance on you and you owe them your very best effort in exchange for this major opportunity.
And a few more things…
- Never be the drunkest person in the room. Sports are a competition. Grades are a competition. Internships and the job market waiting to judge your academic career and volunteer experience are all a competition. Getting drunk should never, ever be a competition. This is how unfortunate and embarrassing bathroom accidents start.
- Never, ever, ever text inappropriate pictures of yourself (or anyone else). Just assume they will be made public. This goes for all forms of media really. Just DON’T do it. If you don’t believe me ask Brett Favre or Congressman Anthony Wiener. If they were busted, you will be too.
- Don’t smoke. Anything. Just adopt a no smoking policy all together. For one thing it’s bad for your health, but it’s also just not worth the risk.
- Assume everyone has an STD until proven otherwise by a medical expert. Sometimes you will be wrong, but sometimes you will be RIGHT! (And just think how glad you will be that you dodged that bullet!!!)
- Never forget who taught you how to play Flippy Cup. And don’t disgrace me.
I am already so proud of the man you have become and I know that you are only a fraction of the way towards realizing your full potential. I believe you are destined for greatness and I intend to brag about you obnoxiously the whole ride there. I. Love. You! Always have, always will.