I am fortunate enough to have two separate generations of nephews and nieces. Once my sister’s kids were just about grown, my brother started a family. I think that was very considerate of him to give me a chance to spoil only one set at a time.
And my second set is now growing up. The oldest went off to college this week.
So I thought it would be appropriate to repost my college advice – he is very much like me, so perhaps I can help him just a tiny bit to be just a tiny bit less like me.
It’s a week or so late (since I wrote this two years ago in August….) but I am hoping my nephew can still save himself from being me.
REGRETS – I’VE HAD A FEW
It’s August, and of course we are already being inundated with back-to-school advertising.
When I was a kid, I hated seeing those ads for school clothes and newspaper flyers for pencils and notepads. It was August. Not time to think about school. Give me another month of wonderful summer, please.
But since school seems to be starting earlier every year – semesters are starting before Labor Day now – I’ll jump on the back-to-school bus with some college advice.
What I have learned in my forty-one years since college (and yes, that means I was an undergrad until I was 24; let’s just say I changed my major a few times) is this:
Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Maybe kids don’t these days anyway. Maybe college now is all about weekends and selfie-sticks.
But I think there are probably a lot of kids out there like me.
I studied hard. I took extra courses. I wanted that 4.0 GPA. I wanted my professors to think I was special.
Oh I’m special, all right. But I am also sure, looking back, that not one single professor remembers me.
And though I didn’t make a 4.0 GPA, I did manage a 3.8. And you know what – it still took me ONE YEAR to get a job as a clerk.
I did learn a lot in school. And I even remember quite a lot of it after more than 40 years. That’s the best thing about being a serious student. I learned shit.
You know those old people who always reminisce by saying, “I have no regrets”?
Holy Bleeping Cow. Are you kidding me?
I have a HUUGE pile of regrets.
So for those serious-worrier kids who are already stressed about going off to college, I’d like to express a few of those regrets. For whatever it’s worth.
I regret not attending a single sports event in my multiple years in college.
I regret not going to more parties… (although I don’t regret not getting falling-down drunk).
I regret not ice-skating on the campus pond. Or even bringing my ice skates to school.
I regret not telling Stanley that I really liked him a lot. And Sean. And Steven.
I regret studying alone in my room – instead of going to the library or joining a study group.
I regret not staying up all night giggling with my roommate.
I regret not taking advantage of all the music and arts available every single week at school.
I regret not streaking across campus when that was all the rage.
I regret taking on extra-credit work when I did not need extra credit.
I regret not going to the local hotspot once in a while. I worried that it was a firetrap. And yeah, it did eventually burn down – but not for a few years.
I regret those beautiful early May days when I studied for finals, when I could have been laying out on the lawn in a bikini, still studying for finals.
So what I am saying – to Type-A teenagers, if you still exist: Work hard, learn a lot – but also: ENJOY college. Don’t pass up your opportunities to have fun. To really FEEL like you are in college – on your own for the first time.
Oh yeah, one more:
I regret not calling my mother and my father and my sisters and my brother every single day to tell them I loved them.