As you begin your college experience, I thought I’d leave you with the things that, in retrospect, I think are important as you navigate the next four years. I hope that some of them are helpful.
Your friends will change a lot over the next four years. Let them.
Call someone you love back home a few times a week, even if just for a few minutes.
In college more than ever before, songs will attach themselves to memories. Every month or two, make a mix cd, mp3 folder, whatever - just make sure you keep copies of these songs. Ten years out, they’ll be as effective as a journal in taking you back to your favorite moments.
Take naps in the middle of the afternoon with reckless abandon.
Adjust your schedule around when you are most productive and creative. If you’re nocturnal and do your best work late at night, embrace that. It may be the only time in your life when you can.
If you write your best papers the night before they are due, don’t let people tell you that you “should be more organized” or that you “should plan better.” Different things work for different people. Personally, I worked best under pressure - so I always procrastinated… and always kicked ass (which annoyed my friends to no end). ;-) Use the freedom that comes with not having grades first semester to experiment and see what works best for you.
At least a few times in your college career, do something fun and irresponsible when you should be studying. The night before my freshman year psych final, my roommate somehow scored front row seats to the Indigo Girls at a venue 2 hours away. I didn’t do so well on the final, but I haven’t thought about psych since 1993. I’ve thought about the experience of going to that show (with the guy who is now my son’s godfather) at least once a month ever since.
Become friends with your favorite professors. Recognize that they can learn from you too - in fact, that’s part of the reason they chose to be professors.
Carve out an hour every single day to be alone. (Sleeping doesn’t count.)
Go on dates. Don’t feel like every date has to turn into a relationship.
Don’t date someone your roommate has been in a relationship with.
When your friends’ parents visit, include them. You’ll get free food, etc., and you’ll help them to feel like they’re cool, hangin’ with the hip college kids.
In the first month of college, send a hand-written letter to someone who made college possible for you and describe your adventures thus far. It will mean a lot to him/her now, and it will mean a lot to you in ten years when he/she shows it to you.
Embrace the differences between you and your classmates. Always be asking yourself, “what can I learn from this person?” More of your education will come from this than from any classroom.
All-nighters are entirely overrated.
For those of you who have come to college in a long-distance relationship with someone from high school: despite what many will tell you, it can work. The key is to not let your relationship interfere with your college experience. If you don’t want to date anyone else, that’s totally fine! What’s not fine, however, is missing out on a lot of defining experiences because you’re on the phone with your boyfriend/girlfriend for three hours every day.
Working things out between friends is best done in person, not over email. (IM does not count as “in person.”) Often someone’s facial expressions will tell you more than his/her words.
Don’t be afraid of (or excited by) the co-ed bathrooms. The thrill is over in about 2 seconds.
Wednesday is the middle of the week; therefore on Wednesday night the week is more than half over. You should celebrate accordingly. (It makes thursday and friday a lot more fun.)