You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
It’s that time of year again. Back to School. I saw an article the other day entitled ” Five Things NOT to Say to Your College Freshman”. It reminded me of something I wrote for Ben in the summer of 2011 before he went off to Appalachian State for the first time as a freshman. Ben is my baby, and when he left that August, I had a truly empty nest for the first time. It was one very weird six months until he and his older brother returned home in December.
Ben is beginning his senior year next week. He’s been living up in Boone for the summer, so I haven’t seen much of him. And now it’s back to school time, but there’s no official, emotionally cathartic send-off. These days I just pay the tuition, books and rent bills electronically, and hear from him by text – how emotionally unsatisfying!
It’s hard to believe how fast the last three years have flown by – And how much we both have grown in that time.
Ben pulled all kinds of crap in high school. He pushed the edge of every envelope, and happily violated every rule ever created. Drove Andrew and I nuts. I had no idea what he would do with the freedom that college presented. But I believed he had the DNA inside to pull through. I was so scared, but believed so much, I wrote this poem for his graduation, Will Be. https://arunningriver.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/believe/.
I shared my “Rules of the College Road” with him before he left that summer. I think he must have followed at least some of these rules, because he now sports a 3.5 GPA, is prepping for law school, and more importantly, hasn’t been arrested yet. I think he knows what’s good for him – he followed the last, and most important rule religiously. That’s how we both made it through.
Rules of the College Road
1. Show Up. As Woody Allen said, “80% of life is showing up.” Don’t skip class. Ever. See Rule #2.
2. Keep Up. Do your homework and assignments directly after class. Don’t procrastinate. Make a plan to tackle work daily. If you get behind, you’ll be very, very sorry.
3. Don’t Cut Corners. Delivering shoddy work NEVER pays off. Do your best on every assignment. See rule #2.
4. Choose Your Friends Wisely. “Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.” – Ben Franklin. Or even better, “When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” Choose friends who will bring out the best in you. You know what I mean.
5. Get Involved. Get involved in your classes. Get involved in your residence hall activities. Join a team or club. Busy people get more done. These four years will never come again. Make them count, and in a GOOD way.
6. Get to Know Your Professors. They are there because they love their chosen field and want to impart knowledge. Make a good impression, be curious in their work, and engage them. It will enrich you, and it can’t hurt when it comes time for graduate school recommendations.
7. Ask for help. Don’t be shy. Ask professors, TA’s and other students for help. Take advantage of the school’s resources.
8. Stretch yourself. Push yourself to do your best. Don’t write off a course or assignment because you don’t get it. Volunteer for leadership roles. Don’t give up. See rule #7.
9. Create some personal discipline rules, and stick to them. Figure out what kind of environment you need to perform at your best. Things like sleep, exercise, diet and formal study time really do matter. Find the discipline to stick to those rules. “Today’s world is full of an impossible number of distractions. The world-changers are those who find a way of ignoring most of them.” Choose your distractions wisely.
10. Call Your Mom Regularly. This really should be Rule #1.
What message or guidelines did you give- or are you giving – to your precious babies if they are leaving you for college this month?