18 Pieces of Advice for my 18-year-old College Freshman

My youngest child started college this week. I tried to come up with my “top 10” pieces of parting advice but as our days together dwindled, my list kept growing. I decided to cap it at 18 – one for each of his 18 years.

The advice ranges from the mundane (laundry), to the obvious (study hard), to my personal biases (no tattoos … yet). Sprinkled in are some lessons from my years of teaching (about all-nighters) as well as some advice that might apply to anyone starting a new chapter — i.e. prepare yourself for the lonely or sad moments.

Given all my years of parenting (a lot more than 18) here’s the best list that I could come up with:

1. Try lots new things—classes, random speakers and events, and clubs

2. Seriously consider club soccer if you haven’t already—you might like having teammates again

3. Wear slides in the shower

4. Definitely do intramural sports

5. First semester meals are on me—eat where and when you like, and seek out some good food. I’ll pay you back

6. Be cool but not too cool —try to be open and friendly to both guys and girls

7. No tattoos

8. Get lots of sleep

9. Learn to use the school shuttle

10. Study hard

11. Do your laundry every Tuesday, and when you do, wash your sheets and put the clean ones on your bed (and the dirty ones in the hamper for the next Tuesday)

12. It’s okay to miss home, friends and family

13. Eat fruit or vegetables with EVERY meal

14. Never pull an all-nighter before an exam. Essays, maybe … exams no. Your brain won’t function properly for the test

15. Try to stay present at YOUR school—find & celebrate things that you like about it (and worry less about what your friends are doing at their schools)

16. Make a list of things that will comfort you if you’re sad—coffee with your high school friend who’s there with you, a favorite movie on your computer, a great play list on Spotify.  Then when you are sad, you’ll have it close by

17. Get some exercise EVERY day (and if not every day, then never miss twice)

18. Call me, your father, your brother or your sister any time. Always know that we will come see you any time you need us. We all love you dearly.

I don’t know how much advice he’ll take but he did text me and say “thanks” and that’s enough for me.