While Going Off To College

Ayanna, here are some tips, ideas, suggestions, many of which were given to me by parents, family members, and high school teachers before I went off to college...over a half century ago. Really...they did have colleges back in those days gone by. My two grandfathers were gone before I even headed off to kindergarten. Nonetheless, if they had been around and made suggestions, I probably would have thanked them and forgotten their suggestions.

Now, here is the deal. While you like to think that you got life down more or less, it is doubtful. If you are going to be successful, you are going to have to learn from others...especially those that have been there and done that. In my case 52-years ago. Having been there and done that is often a painful experience. However, if you listen to the older people in your life...and I am one of the oldest if not the oldest, you will benefit more than you can imagine.

Now, here is reality... It is less likely that you or any other graduating senior going out into the world will listen and take seriously suggestions. However, your choice is to take the suggestions as they are intended and get something from the ideas or ignore them. Many friends of yours will smile and thank others for suggestions, but they will have to learn the lessons of life the old fashion mistakes that they make.

However, you being my granddaughter, you will save yourself some unnecessary suffering by mulling over these ideas.

  1. Freedom is a great thing...but freedom ain't free. From now on, you are primarily in charge of your life. Therefore, you are morphing from dependent to independent. This process started at birth and has continued until now. When you are dropped off at school, that morphing process is escalated. Gone is the slow process of standing on your own literally and figuratively. The last escalation like that occurred on May 9, 1995 when you came out screaming at birth. Your birth into adulthood in the real world is a similar shock. Nevertheless, you will handle it just as you handled it after you were born. By the time I held you, you had started the adjustment. Don't forget that I am here for you via the phone, Skype, and emails.

Time flies...  Then and now.

Time flies... Then and now

 Our going away dinner...

Our going away dinner...

  1. In addition to freedom being costly, you will be on your own...and away from family being there all the time in your home. I recall going off to college and having my parents get me unpacked and settled into the dorm. I couldn't wait until they said good-bye and drove off. Finally, they did. And guess what? I got what I wanted...I was all alone. That feeling of wanting to be free and being suddenly free was a shock. I realized that I was essentially on my own. College is another birth process...being born into adulthood. It is a catch-22 situation. You want adulthood, but that means that you are not a child any longer. Welcome to the real world. It is scary, but it is well-worth it.
  2. Freedom is funny thing. After my parents drove off, time was a hurdle. I had 15-hours in class...and all the rest of the entire week was free and unstructured. I had plenty of time to do things. Tuesdays and Thursdays were totally free. I had cross-country each day around 4pm for a couple of hours, but that and class were the only things that I had to do. I knew that I had to study, sleep, eat, wash and iron my clothes occasionally, but I had plenty of put things off like studying. It took me the first half of the first semester to realize that mistake that I made about plenty of time. Time is a most valuable commodity...time is all too often wasted.
  3. Another freedom that you will have that you have not had already is the ability to cut classes. In high school, you would be in the principal's office explaining why you were not in class. Now, you are now entering in another educational world. There are some professors that you have while in college that should not being teaching. They are boring, uninteresting, and really don't care whether you are there or not. They will be paid regardless whether you ace or fail the class. Then there are the early 8am classes or ones around lunchtime. You can cut class but you also are cutting your educational throat. Here is a secret about when you graduate from college; you will be facing many professionals that are often a boring waste of time also. Your choice is to deal with the uninteresting dunderhead professors in spite of their lack of interest, or their lack of interest will cost you in grades and more importantly in your education.
  4. Pick one professor each semester and get to know that professor. Now, I have been in college, grad school, and post grad school. There are not loads of professors that are to be admired. I have been in over 275-hours of classes over about a decade of higher education. There aren't a lot of candidates from which to pick. However, don't allow a shortage of quality professors to stop your looking for them. Find those that care about your educational success.
  5. While each semester, you are picking a prof, also pick at least two students each year with whom you can relate. Find someone in your class at that time, and pick a student a year ahead of you. The benefit will be many for you. One is going to be suffering just as you will be. The older student will have suffered and gotten beyond it. One will share your problem and the other will have succeeded in overcoming the problem. When you are a senior, find someone in grad school or in the business world to help you and who will be a model of overcoming problems.
  6. Exercise every day. I'm talking about cardiovascular exercises. Now, you can think that you are healthy and can cut daily exercises, as you would like to cut classes. However, don't exercise daily, after you are older, have a heart attack, the hospital will treat, and release you. As you leave the hospital, they will tell you to go home and make an appointment with a rehab facility. Do you know what they will have you do each day? Exercise. So you choice is clear...either exercise now when you are young and healthy or exercise when you feel like it is going to kill you.
  7. Do not look for pain; it will find you. However, address it, and pain has a way of benefitting us. Pain will motivate you to move. Most people don't take advantage of pain. If you do, you will address the problem. Whether it is grades, money, friends, etc. Addressing that thing will cause you to be successful in college and in life— if you deal with it and not ignore it. Trust me.
  8. See the movie, Finding Forrester... Since I have written over 1200-words of advice to you, I want you to write a 500-word essay for me just like every student that I have had since 2000 when Finding Forrester hit the screen. The title is – Why Does Papa Want Me To See This Movie? My students' essays are entitled – Why Does Campbell Want Me To See This Movie?

So, Ayanna, take care. I'm proud of you and know that you will do well at school and in life. I am here for you anytime. We have shared many hours together over the years, and it will continue to be a hoot. I love you, Squirt.