Leaving home for college can be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. As parents, you want to give your kid the best advice possible to help them have a safe, satisfying and successful first year away from home. Here are some powerful words of wisdom for high school seniors, and 18 things that all college kids needs to hear before going off to school this fall.
This month, thousands of high school seniors will don caps and gowns, proudly walk across the stage as the band belts out Pomp and Circumstance, and receive their high school diplomas.
If your son or daughter is graduating from high school this year, you’ll know how bittersweet this milestone is.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that we dropped them off for their first day of kindergarten? Now, here we are, just weeks away from sending them off to college.
The advice we gave them as they trotted up to the kindergarten door, dwarfed by backpacks far larger than their bodies, was simple. Have fun, play nicely, and wash your hands after you use the bathroom! Then a hug and a kiss, and “see you after school”.
But what about advice for kids going to college for the first time? What words of wisdom do our grads need to hear that will influence and encourage them to make the most of and get the most out of their first year of post-secondary school?
I recently turned to my Happy Hooligans Facebook Community and asked parents and grandparents for their words of wisdom for high school seniors as they go off to college.
As always, they came through with fabulous advice and insight based on their experience. Here are some gems of wisdom that you’ll want to share with your soon-to-be freshman.
Powerful Words of Wisdom For High School Seniors – 18 Things Every College Kid Needs To Hear
1. Make sure you’re ready to take this big step – It’s ok to take a year off between high school and college if you’re unsure of the path you want to take. You can mature significantly, sock away some savings, and learn a lot about yourself during a gap year.
2. Be True To Yourself – It’s great to experiment and explore, but don’t lose track of your values and who you are inside. Don’t be easily influenced, or try to be something you’re not in order to please others. Know yourself and your limits.
3. Call Your Mom – We moms have a tendency to worry when we don’t hear from you. Do us a favour and call or text every few days to help keep our anxiety at a manageable level.
4. Go to Class – Even When You Don’t Feel Like It – Remember those school mornings when your parents practically had to drag you out of bed, and force you out the door? It’s all on you now, kid.
Even if it’s a beautiful day and you’d rather be anywhere else, go to class.
5. Talk to the Prof – Even if you don’t have to, talk to your professor. It helps them put a face to your name, and in a large class, that can mean the difference between an A and a B.
6. Be kind –“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” ~Unknown
Be friendly and nice to everyone, from the faculty to the students to the cafeteria staff. If you’re shy, a smile will do until you work up the nerve to say ‘hello’. Equally important, be kind to yourself.
7. When Possible, take morning classes – If you start class at 8 or 9 you’ll likely be done by noon. Then while your friends are attending afternoon classes, you can study peacefully and then have time to socialize in late afternoon and evening.
8. Have Fun, But Make Good Choices – There are a lot of temptations in college that will be new and exciting. Some may be good for you but many won’t be. When in doubt, don’t do it.
9. Always Wear Shoes in the Shower – Unless you’ll have a bathroom all to yourself, pick up a cheap pair of flip flops and never get into the shower without them. ‘Nuff said.
10. Don’t Get a Credit Card – For the love of all things holy, do not get a credit card You may be broke and tempted by the allure of “free money”, but you could jeopardize your credit rating or rack up a ton of unnecessary debt before you even graduate. If you must get a one, don’t charge more than you can pay off every month.
On the same note, do not give your bank information to anyone other than a known, trusted official of the college.
11. Ask for Help – If you need help, ask for it.
When you don’t understand an assignment, ask your professor. When you’re struggling academically, get tutoring.
When you’re having a hard time adjusting, visiting the counseling office. When you don’t feel safe, seek out your RA, RD, or campus security.
If you feel like you’re losing your faith, talk with campus ministry. There are people on campus (and off) who are invested in helping you – you just have to ask.
And your mom or dad will definitely want to hear from you during these times!
12. Work Hard and Focus – Focus on your course work, study hard, and be self-disciplined. Remember what you’re there for and what your priorities are. You and you alone are responsible for your success. If you want the results, you have to put in the hard work.
13. Have a backbone – Don’t be a push-over, or vulnerable to people who will take advantage of your generosity, your money or your time. Know your limits and when it’s time to stand up for yourself and kindly say “no”.
14. Eat Healthy Foods – College and pizza may be BFFs, but your body needs more than dough and sauce to function properly.
Eat a salad once in a while. Choose some healthy snacks, and try not to overindulge. If you have a mini-fridge in your dorm room, keep packets of tuna and individual servings of cut-up veggies and fruit. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated!
15. Participate – Join an extra-curricular or a team and attend the social events hosted by your college. Being active in the school community is a great way to make friends and potential future prospects, and it will give you a provide you with a real sense of belonging.
16. Buy used text-books on Amazon – You can save a ton of money, and you can re-sell them when you’re finished with them.
17. Use your parents points to buy groceries – If your parents have a credit card that collects grocery points, get a secondary card that just allows you to access their points. Our son bought all of his groceries with our points this year. It was a huge savings.
18. Be Careful When Driving – You’re out on your own and there’s no one to monitor your driving, but you.
Don’t text and drive.
Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Don’t drive recklessly. Period.
19. Remember what fuels your passion – You are studying for a career that will likely lead you through many years of your life. If what you’re studying doesn’t bring you joy and satisfaction, re-consider your course choices. It’s far better to realize you’re on the wrong path early in your college career than at the end of it.
And last, but not least,
20. Thank you!
Thank you for being our future. Thank you for the years of effort that have gotten you to where you are right now. And thank you for your commitment and dedication to becoming all that you will be. And thank you for all the joyful years you’ve given our family. It has been an honour and a privilege to walk beside you in your journey to where you are today.
Follow your dreams. Embrace all of the opportunities and challenges that come with college life. And know that your parents are always just a phone call away.