I was flying to Dallas to put on an event for my new job and I pulled out my Moleskine mid-flight. While I felt cliché writing the words, I forced myself to write the words “What I learned in 4 years of college:” on one of the pages. As I stared out the window as we soared above the clouds, I tried to look back over four years of college and boil down the most important lessons I learned so I could share with others who were about to enter college, are in my same shoes, or need to be reminded. I jotted down a list of 13 on the flight. In no way is the even close to an exhaustive list, but, as I look over them, they define some of the most important moments of my college experience. While it is all to easy to write endless posts about each statement, I do not want to get lost in the meticulous explanations of rationale that led me to think why I do. I want to offer just enough structure and guidance for you to find yourself in my experiences, in hopes that something I have learned may resonate with you and offer a new perspective to view this season of life. Enjoy.
- People will walk in and out of your life. [Read]
- Know who to hold onto and who to keep open-handed. [Read]
- Get involved in a local church. [Read]
- Live with people who will challenge you. [Read]
- You never know who will become a close friend. [Read]
- Take classes you enjoy, not just GPA boosters. [Read]
- Make new friends, but do not forget old ones. [Read]
Keep family in the loop on a regular basis.
There is an independence that comes with going away to college. It is like a breath of fresh air after the stuffiness of what feels like high school and everything that comes with it. No longer are you bound to curfews, calling when you arrive at places, or rules parents put in place to hold you responsible. You are, for all intents and purposes, free–aside from the fact they are probably watching the credit card bill, GPA, and hold the reins on tuition. This newfound freedom allows you to do what you want, when you want, with whomever you want. You do not have to tell anyone, much less your parents, where you are going or what time you will be back. It is a beautiful, terrifying thing. While it might take a little bit of getting used to depending on the kind of home you come from, once you get the hang of it, there is no looking back. You find that schedule, you create the routine, and you start living life on your own. While this is exactly what college is supposed to prepare you to do, it is easy to fall into a “me-centered” life. What I mean by that is you can start living your life only concerned with what is happening in your bubble where you live, especially if you are living a hour or more away from home. Your life becomes caught up in where you are at and what you are doing, and that can lead to unintentionally forgetting about the people who helped you the most to getting to where you are at: your parents. I am fully behind the philosophy of letting young adults figure things out for themselves in college, but you have to keep your parents in the loop. I realized that I do not have an obligation to do so, but it is a way to show them honor. It is a way of saying, “Hey, thank you for getting me this far. I want you to know that what you have done up to this point has gotten me to where I am today. I want to continue to invite you into my life because I believe you want what is best for me in the end. So I want you to know what is going on.” While many of us will have hard time saying that to our parents for one reason or another, there are other ways you can keep your parents in the loop. For me, it looked like my dad driving up every two or three weeks to have dinner with me. It was nothing scheduled or formal, most of the time it was spontaneous, but it was a time where we were both intentional about staying involved in each others lives. I am not saying you should always tell your parents about everything, but if the only way they find out about things is through Facebook or Twitter, something needs to change. Keep your parents (and family) up to date with the important things in your life, because it shows that you love and respect them. And, believe it or not, they still love you too.