Starting college is a major deal so it's important to impart advice on a new college student to help them get the most out of the experience. -

Last year at this time, I was preparing for senior photos and finalizing details about selecting a college and absorbing the reality of Madison’s last first day of high school. Before I knew it, we were planning a graduation party. Last week, we moved her into her dorm and she started classes this week. As much as I tried to offer advice along the way, I don’t know how much she heard amidst the noise of all the other things happening in her life. So I’m compiling some thoughts here and hope she’ll take them to heart.

Starting college is a major deal so it's important to impart advice on a new college student to help them get the most out of the experience. -

To our new adult,

Congrats on starting college! With each minute and hour in your home on campus, you are penning a new chapter in your life. But unlike getting your driver’s license or your first job, this will be the first time you’re continually faced with making all your own decisions… by yourself. We aren’t under the same roof nor are we there to protect you when you wake up each morning to face the world. But I’m not worried. We’ve raised you to have a good head on your shoulders and I’m confident that you’ll make the right decisions. With that said, there are several things you’ll need to remember and I thought it might be helpful to have them all in one place.

  • First and foremost, college is your job. You’re there to learn and prepare yourself for the next chapter. Don’t just do what the professors expect of you, do more.
  • Preparing for the next chapter means more than just book smarts and professional training. It also means learning to deal with people, juggling responsibilities and prioritizing activities.
  • College is also about opportunities that you can take advantage of. Whether it’s joining marching band, student government or some club, pledging Greek life, attending sporting events, listening to visiting artists or simply meeting people then do it. Do something. Try many things.
  • Connect and network. Get to know people because networking opens doors that may not otherwise open.
  • Professors have ever-growing networks and can also offer recommendations. Make a name for yourself both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Join clubs and organizations that support your major in some way. Once again, it can open doors.
  • Also join clubs and organizations that have nothing to do with your major. Being a well-rounded person is very important.
  • Be curious. Ask questions about people, lessons, places, foods, whatever. Expand your life by learning about other things.
  • Remember people’s names and tidbits about them that may seem inconsequential. Whether it’s a detail about some recipe their mom makes that they miss, their favorite sports or film franchises, or a random thing that they mentioned in passing, being able to recall that in a future conversation will help you stand out from others.
  • Be a connector. Offering recommendations or providing introductions may not offer you anything in the short term, but most people remember those who help open doors. Some of those people will try to find ways to return the favor.
  • You are bound to cross paths with people who suck. They may cheat, take shortcuts, claim credit for something that someone else did or take advantage of you or others. It will happen, but don’t let bad characters define you or drag you down. Learn something from those experiences and find ways to be prepared for similar situations in the future.
  • Try new foods. You’ll engage with a lot of new people so learn about the foods they love and try them. There’s no better way to expand your palate than at the recommendation of another person.
  • Take guidance, suggestions, advice or criticism with grace and appreciation. Whether someone is critiquing your performance or work, recommending a place with awesome tea or telling you there’s a piece of spinach in your teeth, listen with an open mind then thank them. Learning this skill is a lifelong journey. The sooner you realize people care enough to tell you, the quicker you’ll be able to take advantage of their input.
  • If you get a bad grade or fail at something, ask questions to figure out why then learn how you can improve and move forward.
  • It’s okay to ask for help. Not everything is easy. If you are ever struggling with mental health issues, come to us, talk to a friend, reach out to campus health and counselors or dial 988.
  • Be mindful and safe. I fear that I didn’t prepare you for this as well as I should have. Sadly, some people will try to take advantage of you physically. Someone may try to get you drunk first, someone else may simply over muscle you. Sadly, it happens and I hope it never happens to you. Be alert and always have a friend with you. If you are going to study with someone of the opposite sex, make sure you are in a public place or with other people.
  • Don’t miss out on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. It’s okay to spend money at this time in your life. It won’t be long before you have a whole bunch of expenses that will prevent you from it.
  • Don’t be frivolous with your money. Yes, it’s okay to spend on some things but the well will eventually run dry if you aren’t careful. Learn money management. It’s a skill you’ll appreciate once you’re out on your own.
  • Keep a positive attitude. Negativity is a breeding ground for more negativity. Always find something positive in every situation.
  • Finally, college is the last opportunity to live without all the responsibilities of being an adult. Don’t forget to have fun!

I’m proud of the adult that you’ve become and am confident that you’ll successfully navigate your way along this journey. Enjoy your college years because they’re lifechanging in all the right ways.

Love, Mom

P.S. Please don’t forget to send pictures!

17 thoughts on “A Letter to our New College Student

  1. Some people will be jerks. Be prepared to stand up for yourself.

    Make friends. Some of the friends you make here will be friends for life.

    See or do something unique to the city your college is in. In a few years you’ll leave and wish you had those memories.

  2. Most schools have many people and places to go to for guidance and help. Remember to seek them out, they do not come to you.

  3. I had two of my four girls in college and now I have grandkids in college.
    Be yourself! Don’t change or “Act as if” just to fit in a group – usually a party crowd!
    Be careful of who you trust! You haven’t known them that long to earn your trust!!
    There’s nothing wrong with joining a frat house or going out. Just remember that you are there to learn and start your new career path. That being said, always put your classes, studying, and homework first!
    My one daughter changed her majors three times!! My oldest daughter met her husband in college. They’ve were married 22 years in September. Please stay in touch with your parents and sister! This will be a huge adjustment for them! Pick a time every week to talk with them! They do worry, miss and love you . This is the most important advice I can give: Remember your Father God!! HE is everywhere and is readily available to help you! Keep believing and keep praying God will always be the most important being in your whole life!!! Sorry that I wrote a book! This advice was given from experience! God Bless all of your future endeavors

  4. Just remember, don’t worry what other people think. Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.
    Be patient and persistent. Life is not so much what you accomplish as what you overcome. And be your best at all times. You never know what the future will bring, so always make the best use of the present.

  5. Don’t let other people’s negativity affect you – you are there for you to forge a path for your future and that’s what really matters.

  6. Enjoy your time in college, but at the same time, be serious when you need to be. Times are getting tougher out there and a degree is much needed for a decent job these days. These are some of your better days, so try to make the best out of them. Make new friends, do new things and explore, and when you graduate, keep working at succeeding even higher. It will all pay off in the end.

  7. What great, useful, and loving advice you gave your beautiful daughter! I hope she realizes how blessed she is to be your daughter. I only wish someone had given me some useful advice…neither of my parents went beyond high school. However, they made sure that my younger brother and I knew that we had no choice in the matter of if we went to college or not! I went off to college after high school-worked so very hard, got my degree, graduated, and had a job in a week! I’m very proud to say that I’m an RN and have been for over 30 years. As I look back-the hardest thing about college was leaving home….

  8. Keep your head up and keep confident! You are an adult now. You have the right to freedom of speech! Use it wisely and people will be interested in what you have to say

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