After 18 years, you’ve made it. Hundreds of essays, thousands of looseleaf paper, hours upon hours staying up to do homework, and almost two decades of listening to people tell you what you have to do, you’ve made it to the realm of adulthood and college. Ironically enough, people will still be telling you what to do and you’re probably going to have double the amount of work to complete, but there’s something freeing about heading off to college and being considered a legal adult for the first time.

It’s been a pretty wild ride so far, and it’s only been the first week of school. Do you remember when you first drove up to campus on that early Tuesday morning, car filled to the brim with suitcases, cardboard boxes, and packages? You were so focused on getting dorm supplies and clothes to make your room look nice that you forgot school supplies were actually a thing too, and you were actually going to school to learn. The entire summer involved working for some last-minute cash, spending time with your closest friends before you moved hundreds of miles away from them, and preparing for life at college. You didn’t really know necessarily what to feel. Free, because you could finally have fun without your parents wondering about your every move. Excited, because you could make so many different and new friends. Nostalgic, because you were leaving behind a life at home filled with your oldest friends and family. And nervous, because you were starting an entirely new chapter of your life that essentially defined the rest of your future.

But for some reason, all of the qualms and fears you had regarding college seem to dissipate as you reached campus and saw your new home for the next four years. Screaming upperclassmen were holding up signs with “Remember to wear your retainer (or not)” and “Give us your kids” and the most realistic, “Welcome to college.” Even with cheesy and uncomfortable icebreakers, awkward handshakes with strangers you never saw again, and the minutes you spent trying to find people you knew in a sea of hundred of people, you felt great. The people were welcoming, the atmosphere was comforting, and you knew that even though you may be homesick for a while, life at college was going to be okay.

But don’t forget why you came here: to get an education that millions of kids your age today (and even younger) don’t have the access to. To prepare yourself for the impending future that is adulthood, so when you leave home, you’ll be ready for a life of taxes and mortgage rates and a job that you’ll (hopefully) love. To make friends of a lifetime. To create relationships and bonds that matter to you. To have an experience filled with memories unlike any other. And one of the most important ones: to make your parents proud.

College has been pretty awesome so far, but there probably will be bumps along the way that will bring you back to this letter wondering how things have changed. Study hard, don’t party too much, and make sure to have a fun and fufilling freshman experience. You may be nervous about the next four years, but who isn’t? Just try to be the happiest person you can be, and hopefully, I won't see you again for another four years.

With love,