College is an exciting time ripe with personal growth and development. I am entering my senior year, and have compiled a list of advice that I wish someone had told me when I was entering my freshman year. Some is geared towards academic success, some personal development. Take a break from the grad parties and check it out.

  1. Don’t be the kid that goes home every weekend. You will see some people that find it difficult to immerse themselves into the new culture. Leaving every weekend will only make it more difficult to develop any type of relationship with your new peers. College is largely about the beginning of independence and differentiating yourself from your family and friends back home. While those relationships are obviously important; the reason people speak so highly of college is because of the quality relationships that are developed during this time period. Everyone misses home, but now is the time to build the reputation of your first name; and stop relying on your last.
  2. When I was an incoming freshman, I was concerned about my academic ability to perform. College had an intimidating reputation, and I doubted that I was intellectually capable of success. Relax, but get ready to work. By now, you have hopefully learned that success takes hard work. Hard work is an equalizer that does not appear on paper, but will be the most essential factor to your collegiate academic success. Prepare to work hard, but have confidence in your ability.
  3. Before you leave, take a second to appreciate your family. Over the course of your college career, you will realize how incredibly valuable these people are to your life. Your parents, if they are anything like mine, are literally modern day superheros. I’m serious. They cook food, clean your living space, provide for a family financially, construct and practice excellent morals, and essentially wipe your ass and bandage your wounds until you leave their house (and even long after). I am 21 years old and still cannot do half of these things nearly as well as the people raised me; and I am only taking care of myself. Thank mom and pops.
  4. Take it easy on the Natural Light and McCormick’s Vodka. Seriously, if you take nothing away from this post- let it be this. I know, I know, they are so cheap, and mix well and, you don’t have much money. I get that. However, I have come to the conclusion that there is a directly proportionate correlation between grade point average and amount of cheap alcohol purchased and consumed per semester. Drink this vile substance when you are on your last dime, but seriously limit consumption and prepare your next day accordingly.
  5. A logistical piece of advice that will help with your quality of professor: use the website, “Rate My Professor” similarly to how a Lutheran uses a Bible. I do not care where you go to college, every University has teachers that will change your life, and teachers that will make your life miserable. This website helps the student to determine the difference before it is too late. The website is the greatest thing in college since Ramen Noodles.
  6. Ethics are a different ball game in college. Not necessarily your own ethics; culture’s. What is now socially acceptable, is very different from what was previously. Since you are moving to a world free of restriction and rules, not only will your surroundings change; your lifestyle needs to change. No more leaving backpacks or other valuables places. No longer do all of the people that you know have anything remotely close to your best interests in mind. The metaphorical bubble wrap, no longer swaddles you to break your fall. College is a time when you will begin to see what the world is like, in a more accurate way.
  7. You will make friends and relationships throughout your years in college that you will cherish forever. You now live with your friends. You now have minimal responsibility and the privilege to act as you please. It is anarchy and chaos at times. This is your last chance to behave with the immaturity of a child, but without the level of responsibility of an adult. Stay up till 4 AM talking. Play tackle football without pads. Enjoy the last years of true freedom from responsibility.
  8. Never criticize a home-cooked meal that someone else has prepared for you. If your college dining is anything like mine, the quality of food that you put into your body is about to hit rock bottom. Sure, pizza and ice cream are awesome for the first hundred and fifty times. However, I promise that there will come a day, when just the thought of collegiate dining will make you want to go back in time and slap your ignorant younger self for lacking the appreciation that you have now developed for good food. Please, heed my advice, and enjoy momma’s home cookin’ while you still can.
  9. Another piece of logistical advice: don’t pay for a textbook unless someone has a gun to your head. Okay, it’s slightly less serious than that, but really don’t buy the book. Do not trust a teacher that says that the textbook is required. Many of them are forced by the university to require a textbook. I have wasted well over five-hundred dollars on textbooks that I never open. Five-hundred dollars to a college kid is the difference between being able to afford spring break, fraternity dues, or other experiences that help to construct the memories that you make here. If you determine that you need a textbook, buddy up and split the price. If you doubt me, ask just about anyone else that has completed a year of college; textbooks are a scam. I worked for my school’s bookstore and saw the bookstore’s profit margins- don’t waste your money on books you won’t use.
  10. I am sure that you have heard this a million times, but in college, you will learn the value of trying different things. You may think that you know your tastes and preferences currently, but personal growth only occurs when you put yourself in uncomfortable or different situations. This isn’t only an exercise to practice in college, but if you can open your mind to it; you will continue to do this for the rest of your life. Trying new things will help you to discover what you truly are passionate about. Socialize with different people. Listen to new music. Go to a concert with no knowledge of the band. Play a new sport. The list of new experiences can go on and on and on; and this is your chance to take a stab at the unknown. If you do not do this, then the unknown will forever stay unknown.

You are about to embark on a new chapter of life. What is normal now will dramatically change within the year. Thank your parents, enjoy home while it is still home, save your cash, and good luck.

Thank you for reading,

Also. Check out a new project that I am working on here: https://thecreativecollectiveweb.wordpress.com/

JAH