Walsh’s Wonderings — Uncle Robby’s rules for college

Robert F. Walsh

A few thoughts for college-bound students packing up the cars and hoping their roommates have a decent TV:

  1. Be fearless. Whether asking for waivers for closed classes, talking to that cute student at lunch or applying for internships, jump in and do it. Many people let fear stop them before asking for what they really want. We can’t expect roses if we don’t plant seeds.  
  2. Be social. Meet people. Almost as important as what you learn is the people you learn it with. The strange kid that lives in the library might be running your retirement fund in 30 years; bring them a cookie and they’ll never forget it!
  3. Be efficient. Skip assigned academic advisers and deal directly ONLY with
  4. the head of your department. Advisers are trained to say “no.” Also, invite your professors out for coffee. (Remember: Be fearless.)
  5. Be grateful. Write “thank-you” notes. The world remembers those who practice this forgotten art. Appreciate the gifts you’ve already been given and celebrate life’s victories by paying them forward whenever you can. True gratitude is measured in acts, not thoughts.
  6. Be present. Life goes fast; learn the value of a few minutes of mindful meditation and relaxed breathing throughout the day. Don’t let yourself get swallowed up by deadlines and due dates. When we slow ourselves down, the world around us slows down as well.
  7. Be you. There’s always pressure to “find ourselves” in college, but you’ve been here all along. Go with your gut. You’ll never regret decisions if you listen to that voice deep inside you, the one that you and the people closest to you have spent all these years building.
  8. Be early. Sometimes, the best stuff happens just before things are planned to happen. Get up early as many times as you stay out late; you’ll meet ALL the interesting people that way. Don’t wait until junior year to meet the people at Career Planning & Placement. Get in there early and ask what would make you most attractive in the job market. A quick conversation will help when it comes time to pick classes next semester!
  9. Be fun. Go to that dance, concert, speaker, or weird class downtown. Play tennis in rainstorms; have snowball fights. Go on that road trip, even if it means catching up on homework late into Sunday night. This might be the last time you get to spend so much time with friends. Think of it as banking the great memories you’ll talk about for the rest of your life. (No matter how great that accounting class might be, you won’t reminisce about that one weekend you stayed in and studied.)
  10. Be young! Jump into water fountains and sing ’80s tunes. Paint your face and scream at basketball games. Heck, scream at bowling matches! Grab a bunch of your friends and have a picnic under the stars while reciting lines from Ghostbusters. Youth must be practiced to be maintained.
  11. Be smart. Look out for yourself and others. Everyone who’s gone to college has stories of that one friend who made a big mistake. If you have the right kind of friends, and YOU’RE the right kind of friend, you’ll make sure that “one friend” isn’t one of you.
  12. Be forward-thinking. Store all those goofy notes, pictures, and correspondence in a box somewhere your parents won’t throw it out; you’ll be happy in 20 years when you can bust them out at reunions. Also, treat internships like job rehearsals because they are. Work on your elevator pitch; you never know when the “perfect” opportunity will present itself.
  13. Be calm. You don’t need to decide what you’ll do for the rest of your life by graduation; you only need to find the best path for you right now. People change professions all the time. College opens many doors, so don’t stress about finding the “perfect” job after you get your diploma. It doesn’t exist. Yet.
  14. Be curious. Audit interesting classes (without the stress of grades). Ask people about their lives and really listen to their answers. Explore campus and find that tucked-away corner you can use to be alone when you need it. Listen to They Might Be Giants. (Seriously. Google them.)
  15. Be kind. Random acts of kindness not only create an elevated sense of well-being, they help us live longer. The reciprocal nature of these acts creates an environment where we walk upon flower petals rather than eggshells.
  16. Be communicative. Call your parents. Those tuition checks won’t write themselves.

 

Good luck to everyone, parents and students alike!

You can read more at RobertFWalsh.com, contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.

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