This post: 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know Before Leaving for College
Written by: Ali Flynn
After 18 years of doing my best to raise my daughter and passing along more life lesson lectures than I can count along with endless heartfelt discussions about every topic imaginable, I find myself wondering (and frankly worrying) if I’ve prepared her well for college…
Did I teach her enough?
Have I prepared her for the real world?
Did I share the important elements of life?
After more than a few sleepless nights pondering these questions, I’ve realized that even though I might question whether I’ve given my girl everything she needs to take this next step in her life, she feels ready. And that makes this mama’s heart rest so much easier.
Still, before she leaves my tender care and moves into her new “home away from home” for the next four years, I want to pass along just a few more reminders, a few more tips, a few more “don’t forgets.” So as my daughter starts packing up her belongings and stuffing as much as she possibly can into suitcases, I’m also hoping she’ll be packing these tidbits to make her journey more enjoyable and productive. Here are things I want my daughter to know before leaving for college.
10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know Before Leaving for College
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1. Keep An Open Mind to Everyone and Everything
College is filled with new experiences, new people and new ideas. From the moment you step on campus and walk into your dorm room to greet your new roommate, open your mind to the possibilities. People with interesting and unique backgrounds, cultures, faiths and perspectives are waiting to be met. Don’t be shy… say hello! Listen to your professors and learn. Say “yes” to new experiences and use this time as an opportunity to gain a broader perspective of the world. Take it all in!
2. Always Cover Your Drink at Parties
Unfortunately, this is something you always have to be keenly aware of. If you venture to a party or end up going to a bar (when you’re legal, of course), always take safety precautions by buying your own drink (when possible), never accepting a drink from someone unless you know them well, never leaving your drink unattended and covering your drink with a “drink scrunchie” to avoid having your drink spiked. Don’t adopt the idea that “it will never happen to me,” because it CAN.
3. Find a Friend in Each Class
When you start your first semester, take the time to get to know some of the kids in each of your classes. Finding even one friend in each class can be a lifesaver.
Whether you need someone you can call to clarify an assignment, exchange thoughts and notes with, talk to about a project, study with, or just lean on when you’re sick or unable to make it to class can be invaluable.
4. Please… Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Join clubs, get involved in campus activities, invite people to hang out – step out of your comfort zone. I know it can be intimidating to jump right in those first few weeks of college, but the sooner you get involved, the sooner you’ll connect and make friends with other students which can make the transition so much easier. Most colleges have literally hundreds of clubs to choose from and dozens of activities going on every week. And, if you don’t find a club that interests you, start your own!
5. Find Little Ways to Relax and Regroup
College is filled with so much hustle bustle between dashing to daily classes, juggling social activities, homework, endless hours of studying and just keeping up with daily life. The bottom line is, it can get downright stressful. That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Sometimes, taking care of yourself means taking a walk to Starbucks to grab your favorite coffee or tea just so you can relax, take a big deep breath, be alone for a while and regroup. No matter what it is, do things that bring you peace, relieves your stress, and renew your spirit – it’s so important.
6. Start Each Day Right – Make Your Bed and Let the Sunshine In
It’s been said that the little habits we start our day with can be a total game changer. Your dorm room is your home and whether you realize it or not, your home and your environment play a big role in how you feel, how you handle stress, and your daily outlook. Make your bed, pick your clothes up off the floor, open the blinds and let the warmth of the sun in. Do your best to keep your dorm (relatively) neat and try to stay organized. Not only will it give you a sense of accomplishment, but an uncluttered space also equates to an uncluttered mind.
7. Learn to Say “No”
The one thing you’ll find in college is that there’s always something going on – a party, activity in the quad or a concert on the lawn. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the party scene or the “always on the go” mentality. But sometimes, you just have to learn to say, “no.”
Sometimes, a Friday movie night with a couple of friends (or even alone) is better than going out, especially when it’s been a long week of classes, studying, exams, and socializing. Having time alone is a way to charge your social battery while resting your body and mind. So snuggle up in your favorite comfy sweats, turn on your favorite Netflix series and enjoy the peace and quiet.
8. Don’t Skip Class
I know it’s tempting. You stayed out a little too late the night before, you slept crummy or you just can’t wrap your head around another lecture from the professor who invented the word “long-winded.” But take my advice. Don’t get into the habit of skipping class. Even if you’re not fully paying attention (okay, literally falling asleep), chances are some of it will stick. Missing class means you might be missing important information and, let’s not forget, classes cost money. So get up, get dressed, grab a coffee, and head to class. You can take a nap later.
9. Find Your Own Quiet and Comfy Study Spot
When you need to buckle down and get some serious studying done, find a spot where you can actually think, shut out the world and focus on the information your brain is trying to take in.
Maybe it’s the library, the lounge in your dorm building, out in the quad hanging out on a hammock or another spot on campus. It doesn’t matter where you go to soak in all that knowledge, it’s about finding what works for you!
10. I’m Always Here When You Need Me
Of all the things I want my daughter to know before leaving for college, it’s this… I’m always here for you. If you’re anxious about a class, had an argument with your roommate, bombed a test, are flat-out exhausted from the stress of keeping up, or just want to kill some time walking to your next class, just call me. I’ll always be here to support you, listen, offer advice (when you ask for it), and share the ups and downs of your journey. Just know, sweetheart, you can always count on me.
Ali Flynn is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart, laughter, and some tears. Ali is a monthly guest contributor for Westchester County Moms and has been seen on Filter Free Parents, Grown and Flown, Today Parents, The Mighty, Her View From Home, and His View From Home, where she shares inspirational stories about motherhood while keeping it real. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram.