Wednesday, September 2, 2009

words of wisdom

the other day i saw a post on oh happy day, a delightful blog that i peek at often, with a list of unsolicited college inspired me to think myself of college advice that i would pass on; a very special friend of mine, rain (above right), heads off to university in england and laura, my cousin, just began her freshman year of college. since i am now old, and graduated from college 13! years ago, much of this may not apply or may not be relevant to someone starting college now, but it thought i would pass it along. 

do you have any words of wisdom that you would add to this very personal, non-exhaustive list?

(in no particular order)
1. live with roommates, even if you are someone who needs space. don't live with people who you went to high school with, have known for years or who are related to you. live with new people, who will annoy you, teach you, show you there are other ways to make a bed, load a dishwasher, or deal with conflict than you learned from your own family. you will go crazy sometimes, but you will learn a lot about yourself, and you will be forced to experience the art of compromise. (and you will find yourself up at 3 in the morning talking about boys with someone who you never would've thought you could be friends with much less live with)

2. take advantage of all of the free (or really cheap) events on campus: movies, concerts on the quad, plays, etc.

3. don't ditch your friends to hang out with a boy 24-7. serious. even if you really, really like him. he may be around for the long haul, but even if he is, you need your friends for the long haul.

4. go to office hours. don't be intimidated or embarrassed to show up and talk to a professor or t.a.- i wish i had done this more. you will get so much more out of the course, and you will make future connections.

5. spend time thinking through what you believe and why you believe it. this is a time and space to give intentional attention to who you are as a whole person, and not just to do what you have always done, just because. nurture your spirituality. have conversations with other people about what they believe and listen to them. 

6. stay up late and be silly. there's no rush to be all big girl all the time.

7. write real letters, on paper, with pen, home to your family members about what you are learning, who you are living with, what you are thinking about. someday you will look back and see how much you have grown and matured over time. (and it is important to stay connected to the people who love you most.) 

8. have dance parties. decades parties. costume parties. theme bbqs. progressive dinners. plan fun stuff to do with lots of people.

9. learn how to cook. and bake. 

10. make treats for other people (especially cute boys). bake lots of cookies especially and eat the dough!

11. go to extracurricular events that your department holds. (i really regret not doing this!)

12. go to a semester abroad OR go abroad the summer after your senior year. 

13. be kind to other people in your classes, on your floor, or that you meet randomly. college is so much fun, but there are a lot of lonely people too who could use kindness.

14. play an intramural sport, even if you aren't athletic (um, hello, like me). or join a club, even if just for a semester.

15. if you ever live out of the dorms, have roommate dinners once a week (or more) & all commit to being there. rotate who cooks the meal, and talk about life, household dynamics, etc.

16. take classes that look fun and interesting - not just your required courses, and even if none of your friends are taking that class. (for example, some of my favorite classes were native american studies and creative writing and walking! a p.e. class)

17. call home. 

18. if you have younger siblings, invite them to come visit for the weekend or a few days and take them to class with you.

19. don't take yourself too seriously. you may think you know everything, but you really don't. be gracious in conversations with other friends at school, family at home, etc. 

20. just because there is lots of food to eat in the dining hall doesn't mean you need to eat all of it.

21. thank your family often for the opportunity to go to college. even if you are paying 100% for school, they are the ones who raised you and got you this far.

22. play pranks on cute households of boys. (if you need ideas, email me. ;))

23. if a class if full when you try to register or on the first day, be persistent (but nice). you will probably get into the class. in the same vein, if you believe you should've gotten a higher grade on a test or paper, you can always advocate for your point of view. (i learned this from my friend amy, who always bumped her grade up by convincing teachers why she picked the answer she did. it worked!)

24. don't watch too much tv. if you do watch a show, invite a bunch of people over and make an event out of it so that it's more about the people and less about the tv.

25. find a job on campus and work enough, but not too much. you want flexibility to go do fun things.

26. go on last minute adventures with friends, preferably road trips!

27. if you get a credit card, pay it on time, and don't put too much on it.

28. hang out at coffee shops "studying"

29. pay attention in class. as in, don't do the crossword puzzle or text. (but playing mash is perfectly acceptable)

30. savor every single moment! don't rush through school - it is over way too quickly.

what did i miss?


  1. your list is awesome and exhaustive but here are a few more:

    1. after every test, go explain to the teacher how they may have missed the good points in your essay and how you think you deserve 2 more points to get that B+ rather than the B. the teacher will be impressed with your persuasive skills and it will help you learn to fight for yourself and believe in yourself.

    2. take a random class that your school specializes in. even if it's not your major. sooz mentioned this. in davis for example we tried to take a viticulture class with free wine tasting and got denied. but the memory of that is a story we will tell forever.

    3. take friends out for their birthday late at night or early morning so they're in their pajamas. they'll pretend to be embarrassed but really, they love the attention. or if you're sooz, just wear your pajamas to class and the u-mall.

    4. practice the chinese fire drill and include a little street dancing. it makes everyone's day.

    5. if you don't feel like joining a sorority or fraternity make up your own with your initials. we had an awesome rush class of 92 for Alpha Mu Psi(Y).

    6. get a scooter rather than a car. you never sit in traffic and gas is only $1 to fill up the tank.

    7. learn to like coffee. i promise it's worth it. some of the best talk times come at 2am in the morning when you're crazy tired, studying for tests and bonding with roommates. you'll never forget the laughs, the stories and hopefully you'll have those friends forever.

    love you sooz
    it's an inspiring post and i just wrote my own blog here. let's go buy a book on dc and move :) haha

  2. haha how do i follow that?

    you are making me laugh.

    my last rule: live with your friends from college after college. that's the BEST.

  3. 31. Eat more fiber.

  4. umm...can we please go back to college for one more year. all this is doing is making me miss Davis.

    1) Find a job that is 30% work and 70% socializing

    2) take all 8 a.m. classes your freshman year fall term because it is the same schedule that you had in high school and you never had a problem with it. Oh wait--don;t do that. that is what i did.

    3) ding dong ditch the science floor dorms

    4) get a caribeaner(sp?) and hook a mug onto your back pack with it. (maybe just a davis thing?)

    5) throw your hands up in all pictures--that was the "we are so cute and fun"pose.

    i heart college.

  5. you seri covered almost everything...

    except that playing pranks should be the first thing - and not only to boys, but to everyone :) i was the queen.

    also, learning the art of skipping class so much, that you forget you have it, then begging the professor and crying until he gives you a passing grade, is key.



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