Advice for Women Going Off to College

Advice for young women going off to college.

Advice for Women Going Off to College

For the first time, my husband Nick and I have nieces going off to college. I feel like it wasn’t too long ago that we were in college and decided to offer some advice for going to college based on my experiences, along with some wise words from my father that served me well. Hopefully it is helpful!

Dear Soon to be College Freshman,

First of all, congratulations! I am so proud of you and all you have accomplished! College is a time of great learning and growth. Going to college can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. It is the first time that you really make all of your own choices. You are solely responsible for feeding yourself, getting your homework done, doing your laundry and more. Nobody is checking to make sure it happens. It is wonderful and can also be overwhelming. I would like to share some advice for going to college in the weeks before you leave.

1. Being you:

Who you really are is amazing and your true friends will love you for you. Be strong and choose your own path. One of the greatest things about college is that you learn so much about yourself. You also learn about respecting others who may be very different from you. You can respect others while still being true to yourself. Remember, your family and childhood friends are always there to support you. When you need a break, reach out to them or visit them if possible.

Often times it will be easy to join in with the crowd. You’re having fun with your friends and everyone seems to be making similar choices. Just because everyone else is doing something (getting a tattoo, piercing, etc.) doesn’t mean you also have to do it. Though these people are your social circle day in and day out, it is for a few short years. You likely won’t see most of them again after college.

In circumstances like that, take a step back and think about what is best for you rather than blindly following the crowd. In those situations, I asked myself, “Will I regret this at some point if I don’t do it?” Very few items made the cut: taking a trip with my friends for Spring Break, going to the junior formal and to all of the special events leading up to graduation. As you can see, it’s a pretty short list. Looking back, though I enjoyed them all, I think I would only have regretted not going on spring break with my friends. Things that didn’t make the cut? Tattoos, piercings, smoking anything (even as tame as cigarettes), trying drugs, sex (those who are worth it will wait) – and I am now so very grateful that I refrained from all of them. A polite “No thank you” is usually all it takes, especially with those who are truly your friends. Simply be firm and polite; always say “no” with a smile and polite emphasis on the “thank you”. 

2. Going to Class:

There is nobody watching over you making you go to class. Do it anyway! There is a lot to be learned there. When I was in college I did the math to see how much I was paying for each class period and it shocked me. I made sure to go to class after that! You are paying for it; learn as much as you can. That being said if you’re really sick, stay home. You will get better faster and your classmates will thank you. You probably won’t learn much if you are really feeling under the weather anyway.

3. Eating Well:

Stay healthy. You are now in charge of everything you eat. Make sure you eat enough fruits and veggies. Eat what feels healthy for you. Everyone’s body is different. You may eat more or less than your friends and that is OK. Listen to your body and feed it a variety of foods. Exercise to keep your body strong rather than to be skinny.

4. Dating:

When it comes to dating, only date those who you are really interested in and with whom you feel some kind of connection. I was talked into dating a couple of people in my late teens and early twenties by well meaning loved ones. They saw that these people were interested in me and thought they were nice people. I was reluctant with both of them; I just wasn’t ‘feeling’ it. The two worst relationships of my life occurred when I allowed myself to be convinced to give it a try! Listen to yourself (more on this below). And on that note, as soon as you know someone isn’t for you, break it off. Yes, that may be uncomfortable. However, it may only get harder for you and the other person the more you prolong the relationship. Plus, you want to be available to meet someone who is right for you!

5. Dating, Part 2:

As my Dad wisely told me, wait until you graduate college to get married. You’re young and you will be in your early twenties when you graduate (which is still young). Finishing college will be much harder if you get married and start a family first. The right person will wait. If they don’t, someone even better will come along. Funny aside: I remember this conversation vividly. I can still picture us talking in the car as he was driving me back to campus after spring break my freshman year. Years later I thanked him for this wise and valuable advice, as it really took the pressure off finding “The One”. He doesn’t remember ever having that conversation!

6. Getting Involved:

College is the perfect time to explore your interests. Join clubs, go to campus activities and try new things. Some may be a perfect fit while others are not your cup of tea. Experimenting with these things is what college is all about. This is also a great way to make new friends.

7. Drinking with Friends:

If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly. Have a limit and stick with it. Have a glass of water after each alcoholic drink. It will help you stay hydrated. Always have a buddy (or two) and watch out for each other. Be safe. Every year of college I saw people being taken away by ambulance because they had too much to drink. And on that note, if you see someone who you think may have had too much, get help. If you’re uncomfortable calling for an ambulance, get an RA (Resident Assistant) or someone else to help you. It is better to be safe.

Who you really are is amazing and your true friends will love you for you. Be strong and choose your own path. One of the greatest things about college is that you learn so much about yourself. You also learn about respecting others who may be very different from you. You can respect others while still being true to yourself. Remember, your family and childhood friends are always there to support you. When you need a break, reach out to them or visit them if possible.

8. Listening to your intuition:

When you really pay attention to the voice within, you find that you already have the answers. Often, you will find that you have a ‘gut reaction’. Go with it, even if it seems illogical. When you are pondering a situation, it may help to go to a quiet, distraction free place. Focus on your feelings about the subject and you will be pointed in the right direction.

9. Going to God:

Sometimes your friends don’t have the answers. You may be uncomfortable going to your parents. That’s when you call your aunt or another relative or person you trust! (Seriously.) There may be times when you need some guidance and the people in your life are unable to help for a variety of reasons.

10. Enjoying yourself:

This time in your life is like no other. Soak it up. Explore who you really are. Walk across campus feeling independent and mature. Create lasting friendships. The ins and outs of daily college life eventually fade. Your memories last a lifetime.

Follow this advice to the amount it resonates with who you truly are, for each of us is unique and meant to walk our own paths. The above worked really well for me and my hope is that it helps guide you. Most importantly, I hope it makes you think about making the choices that are right for you. I am always here to help!

Love,

Keri

What is your best advice for those going to college?

6 thoughts on “Advice for Women Going Off to College”

  1. These are all great tips, most of which I wish I’d known going in. I want to add a couple of my own pieces of advice.

    1. Along with making sure you go to class and take the time to pay attention, also take the time to get to know the professor. Building relationships with your professors will mean they know who you are when you go to office hours, are struggling, need help, and (my favorite) need a letter of recommendation for an internship or job interview.

    2. Know what your class schedule’s going to look like (roughly) for your time there, depending on your major. Don’t get sucked into the idea that your advisor knows you well enough to tell you which classes you need to graduate. You don’t want to get stuck needing one class to graduate and not having enough time to do it.

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