As I sit here, I am reminiscing on all the times I have given this advice. I believe the first time was with some of the graduates of the class 0f 2010 from the school district where I work. I'd taught them as seventh graders. They had become huge. They used to put their fingers and hands together in the shape of the THON diamond; thumb to thumb, pointer to pointer, 10 fingers up, class of 0 ... '10. They all just graduated. I'd like to think that some of what I said to them then, they took to heart.
I pride myself in my honesty with my students. I am as honest as I can possibly be with them.
I'll give this advice to a few recent graduates before they leave, but it is here for anyone. I give this advice to whoever will listen, but I mainly wish I had told myself back in the day.
1. Be careful.
Be careful in every way. I mean every way. Think twice before accepting that credit card without any limit and such a "small interest rate." (Happily, I did take this advice, but from my father.) Think twice before taking a class just because you think there will be lots of girls in it. Think twice about buying that shirt; it could equal a night out with your girlfriends. Be careful about going to that party and especially accepting a ride home from someone who has said they only had "a coupe drinks." When I first gave this advice, I was holding my 9-month-old son, Max. I gave those young 18-19-year-olds some very pointed looks and made them aware of what a box of diapers cost in comparison to a box of condoms. I'm telling you, be careful Iin every way. And please, God please, don't get yourself into a state where you cannot be careful.
2. Make trustworthy friends.
Make good judgments about people and if you don't know how to, learn. Don't rely on your roommate. You've known her for three days before the opening "kegger" on that first weekend goes into play and a sophomore second-string football player looks at her. So, she takes that as an open invite to discover if her wears boxers or boxers briefs and leaves you hanging on the couch. Do you go to that supposed house party with your friend from POLISCI 101 just because he knows a guy who knows the guys who live in the house? You'll find yourself five blocks off campus in the dead of night without a ride or a competent person to walk you home. Will that friend leave you hanging when it comes to choosing a housemate? You will end up in the dark too many times alone if you do not have a close friend to stick with you through and through.
3. Work hard and go hard.
Don't look back when you're approaching middle age, you 'think' you're stuck in a dead end job, and wonder, "If I had tried harder would I be in a different place?" You'll be standing in line, waiting for your Grande double shot non fat latte at the local Starbucks where the barista, Jack, knows your drink before you walk in the door, and start to think. What or how could it be different if you had stayed in from that rush week toga party? Could you have done better on that mid quarter exam so your average would have been higher, therefore your overall average would have been higher, therefore would the Wall Street firm have chosen you and not the guy with a .08 higher GPA? Don't look back and have regrets. Don't look back and wish you made different decisions. Don't look back and wish anything.
College is there to fulfill your wishes, not make them.