Only weeks stand between me and that dreaded college drop off date. He only turned 18 in May! Always one of the youngest in his grade, I now wish I had held him back.
I want to watch him grow, and mature one more year. I want to make him dinner, and pick up his wet towels for another 12 months. I don’t think that I can bear walking by his room and seeing his bed made, his drawers closed, and his dry towels neatly hung.
This is a major turning point in our lives. Less than a month from now, my oldest child will never really live full time with us again. He is off to California, University of CA, Berkeley to be exact. And the world literally sits at his feet. Education is sometimes wasted upon the young, but we have made certain to explain to our son the privilege and opportunity that attending Cal affords him. That being said, we have also made sure to drill this advice into his young mind. But just to be certain, I want to put it in writing.
So here are 10 bits of advice for my college bound son.
- Don’t think you need to know the end result, in fact, don’t focus on the end result. Enjoy the journey. It is a true privilege to study for 4 years at a world renowned institution. Your job is to explore and learn. Never assume that you dislike a subject based on your high school experience with that subject. There is so much out there that you have never experienced, and it is okay to not know what you want to do in 4 years. Pursue your passions, not the end result (job or money), and it will all work out for the best.
- Go on a term abroad.
- Hang out with professors, and surround yourself with peers that challenge you.
- Use your right brain. I am convinced that the future belongs to the creatives and the compassionate. People with new ideas and innovations, and people who have interests that are greater than money, and themselves. Find a problem in the world that you care about, and set out to find a new way to solve that problem. You can make money, and make the world a better place for all that live in it. When your work has a higher purpose, you will feel fulfilled, powerful, and energized every day.
- Get involved in clubs and/or sports, so that you can expose yourself to different people.
- You will be around very intelligent people. You will be around people with very different life experiences. And this is a wonderful thing. Don’t be afraid of not knowing something, or think because you don’t know something that you are stupid. Be curious. Be humble. Ask questions and seek understanding from those with more knowledge and experience. Understand this very important fact. Intelligence and ignorance are not genetically decided, they are cultivated traits of character. Let me repeat that. Knowledge and ignorance are willful character traits. Truly smart people have a growth mindset about themselves, and the world. They are humbled by that which they don’t know, and view education as something that has no limits or end. Learning is a lifelong pursuit for those that view themselves as a growing and evolving healthy human.
- Be a good roommate. Keep your side of the room clean and in order, it will reflect well on you and be respectful towards those you share space with.
- Always respect women, especially those that don’t respect themselves. They need your kindness and respect the most.
- Do not fall for peer pressure (group settings, think fraternities). Know your limits and stay within them. Be a leader, and never be afraid to go against any group think mentality because group think means you aren’t using your head.
- Lastly, and importantly, the people you surround yourself with at college will be linked to your future. Chances are that your future opportunities and endeavors will hinge on the relationships you develop over the next four years. That being said, who you are in the next 4 years matters more than most college kids have the sense to realize. Your behavior, your interests, your self respect, your integrity, your hard work, your treatment of others (or lack thereof) will be witnessed by everyone that you come in contact with. What will people see in you? What will your friends and professors say about you? Trust me on this, you don’t want to be the drunk, the womanizer, the fighter, the jokester, the pot head, the arrogant asshole, the manipulator, or the student who never goes to class.
There you have it. I realize I neglected to mention social media, but we had this conversation in high school. To reiterate though, never put something on social media that you are not okay with the world seeing.
As sad as I will be leaving you, literally, in a whole new world, I could not be more thrilled for you. I bestow this advice, because most of us don’t appreciate these experiences until they are gone. And they go fast.
I believe this special school chose you for a reason, and I want nothing more than for you to follow your passion, and never let your fears or doubts take you off your path. Some may not realize this, and many will resist it, but the truth is that the world is changing, and the future will be shaped by those who dare to intentionally create it. Trust me when I say that coloring within the lines, and abiding by all the conventional cultural rules is boring. Dare to be different, and you will make a difference.