It’s that time of year again. School supplies have vomited all over the grocery store aisles and everyone’s talking about carpool etiquette. My kids haven’t reached the school age years so I’m mostly just cleaning poop off the walls, but I’m always thinking about my future. Will I ever get to pee alone? Is homework worse than tantrums? The only thing I know for sure is the days might be long, but the years are hella short and even though some days leave me frazzled and crying in my closet, I know I need to soak up all this threenager goodness while I can.
I got a good dose of this reality when my brother headed off to college last week. It feels like yesterday he was climbing trees and asking me to play hide and seek. Now he’s doing life solo and it’s a tiny bit terrifying. I used to be a college student. I know all too well the shenanigans I participated in and I did a lot of learning through my mistakes. Parents can only do so much. We can only teach them so many life lessons. Eventually we have to let them go and watch them stumble and recover all on their own.
I know my brother will thrive, but to make myself feel just a tiny bit better about him leaving the nest, I decided to write out some important info for all those college students about to embark on that dorm life. Maybe you know one, maybe you are one, or maybe you aren’t completely confident your kid will ever be able to wipe his own ass, but no matter the stage you are navigating, surviving college will be a hell of a lot easier if you remember these tips.
Dear college student,
Here’s are a few things you need and/or need to know as you navigate higher education:
- Diets are something “old” people participate in. The freshman 15 is a right of passage so shut your mouth about those love handles you don’t even have and eat all the damn pizza and convenience store powdered donuts your heart desires. And notice those quotes around the word old? That’s because right now you think 30 is old and when you are 30 you think 50 is old. Age is all relative.
- Studying. There’s a reason it ends in “dying”. You might as well walk around with a coffee IV drip. No one ever survived a late night study sesh or toga party without the legal drug known as caffeine. Coffee saves lives y’all.
- Take stock in hand sanitizer, tissues, and cough drops cause flu season is a bitch. And more importantly zero professors care about your doctor’s note. You miss your final, you fail.
- While you’re at it, buy all the Advil cause hangovers might be worse than the flu. Look, we know you will probably drink alcohol. We aren’t stupid. But just so you know, drinking under the age of 21 is ILLEGAL. You can go to jail. And jail ain’t pretty. I mean there’s like vagina lice and toothbrush shivs. Even scarier than that is your parents will probably leave your ass there. They won’t pay your bail. They’ll make you suffer as a cold hard lesson. So just remember that when you are tempted to drink and do idiotic things. Be smart. Call a cab. Assign a DD. And for the love of all that is holy don’t drink Jägermeister. That shit is brutal.
- It ain’t cute to show up to class empty handed. Come prepared with your laptop or an old school pen and paper cause holy hell you gotta write a lot of fucking notes.
- Wear a fucking condom. STD’s are sometimes permanent and babies ruin everything.
- Make sure to do your research. Watch some classic headed off to college films. Think Animal House, Dazed and Confused, or Legally Blonde. They won’t really teach you anything meaningful about college, but Matthew McConaughey is pretty hawt.
- Respect boundaries. If you see anyone taking advantage of someone, karate chop them in the throat. Rape is really fucked up. Don’t do it and speak up when you see someone else acting entitled.
- Get involved. Don’t just sit in your dorm room playing Xbox. Get out, explore, make friends. Do something meaningful. Use your voice for good and support social change. Volunteer, give back, and overall do your part to allow your emotional intelligence to grow and flourish too. Compassion and empathy are killer character traits that will take you far in this world.
- Choose a major and career path that brings you joy. Don’t let your parents or anyone else pressure you to do different. You do you. Figure out who you is. Learn how to love yourself and the things you are good at. Then work your ass off meeting your goals and feeding your passion. Your 30-year-old self will thank you for it. Too many adults I know realize they aren’t doing what makes them happy so don’t cave to the pressure. Choose joy.
- More important than anything is to HAVE FUN! 4 (or 5) years is going to fly by in a blink and before you know it, you will be in full on adulting mode. My favorite childhood memory is not paying bills. Those things are a buzz kill so enjoy your freedom. Take advantage of this time to explore and learn and grow and become the kick ass human you are destined to be.
- And finally, don’t forget about your poor pitiful parents (seriously, tuition broke them). They worked really hard to get you where you are right now. You don’t know it yet (and shouldn’t because condoms remember?), but they taught you how to not shit your pants and basically prevented you from killing yourself all those times you had no fear and thought climbing in the oven was cute. So call them every once in a while. Even better, visit and eat a meal with them. Preferably without a cell phone in your face. They love you oh so much and wish more than anything they could still snuggle you.