08/09/2012 03:59 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2012

Thoughts For the Class of 2016 As They Enter College

Summer, for a college-bound student, is squished strategically between the celebration of high
school graduation and the excitement that comes with starting the next phase of your education.
Emotions are ebbing and flowing with various speed and intensity. You are essentially living in two
worlds at one time: the safe and solid foundation of the familiar, and the exciting new adventure of
college. Perhaps you feel a noticeable tug between spending time with hometown friends and family,
and Skyping with your new roommate and/or connecting with college classmates via Facebook.
So many people. So much texting. You want to enjoy your summer, but you are beginning to feel
stretched and stressed about fitting everyone and everything into your schedule.

I want you to relax.

Graduating from high school is a big deal. Congratulations! Entering college, regardless of your
distance from home or the type of institution, is a significant accomplishment and commitment -- a
VERY big deal. Everyone transitions differently, but after many years of working with college first-
years, I've learned a few "best practices" that might help.

Filter the information flow. As a new college student, you will receive heaping piles of unsolicited
advice from every direction. Feel free to nod and smile and say "thank you." Considering different
perspectives and opinions will be a valuable skill before, during, and after college -- but decide for
yourself how to invest your time. Only you can determine which path to take, which courses look
interesting, which clubs and groups seem fun. Once on campus this fall, pause before comparing
yourself to others. Reinvent yourself just a little. Understand and embrace your preferred way of
studying and learning and adjust it as needed. I once met separately with two students in the same
exact section of Introduction to Anthropology. One of them was struggling with the material and
found the professor boring. The other student raved about the course, found the professor to be
riveting, and did extra reading on topics discussed in class. One nugget of advice: use the daylight
hours (before and between classes) to your advantage and leave your evenings free for light reading,
review, short responses, and prep for the next day.

Learn how to advocate for yourself. Speak up. Take full advantage of the remaining weeks of
summer. Do not sit on the sidelines and watch things happen or allow others to make your plans
for you. Make things happen for yourself. Take the reigns -- you're not in high school anymore!
Assuming you will be attending college to learn, become even more intellectually active when you
arrive on campus. Attend each class prepared to participate. You will be amazed by how much you
can learn from your peers. Absorb, consider, re-read, make note of questions and/or points you
wish to raise. Talk with your professors and make your presence known.

Last one -- manage your communication. By this point in the summer, you have probably added
a few hundred new friends on Facebook via your college/university of choice. Add the countless
hours of texting and tweeting and YouTubing and... where are we? It can become pretty
overwhelming and occasionally frustrating when we simply lack the time to respond to everything
we receive. Figure out the best uses for your smartphone as you attempt to manage your time this
summer. On campus this fall, you will receive a ton of email -- it is the most efficient method

for us to reach you. If a reply is expected, send it in a timely manner. Most college professors/
administrators will not text with students. Unplug from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest every once
in a while, especially when you need to study or write a paper. Eliminate distractions to stay focused.

The remaining weeks of summer are valuable -- use them wisely. Test-drive some of the best kinds
of habits you'll want to employ in college. Follow your instinct. Advocate for yourself. Manage