Friday, August 12, 2011

Dear college students, Part 3 - 7QT, Volume 40

Click here to read the original post at

I've hit the big 4-0! I feel spry and energetic. Well, that's not quite true, since I tend to stay up way too late finishing these 7 Quick Takes. I am happy to share my next installment of my advice to college students right here in my 7QT.

These are aimed at seniors and other upperclassmen. You thought you could escape!? No way, José.

First of all: do as I say, not as I do.

That is a theme running through virtually EVERY piece of advice I or others can offer you. This doesn't mean you should make the mistakes we make since we survived and learned from them. Make new mistakes! You can write about them on your blog in two years!

If you haven't pulled an all-nighter yet, I applaud you.

And now I send you to the library to stay up all night. You should know what it feels like because:
A) there's something transient in living two full days without the veil of sleep between them and
B) you will never have the opportunity to go a full 24 hours without sleep without serious consequences, except now.

A follow-up on this bit of advice: don't you dare drive.

Savvy? Now, go procrastinate like a college student and caffeinate yourself.

You know how I said "you will never have the opportunity" to spare a night of sleep without serious consequences except during this time...about 20 seconds ago? That's because you're in college. You have time.
This baby thinks he's tired. He should ask his MOM about fatigue.

I don't want to be a cynical college graduate, but I'm in the position of both walking in your shoes and in the shoes of someone who works 40+ hours a week for a paycheck. School is much different from work and if I could go back, I would smack myself in the face every time I complained about being busy or not having enough time to do something.

Oh, I would also smack myself for being too tired.

I leave room in my life for Future-Mother-Elizabeth to go back in time and smack Full-Time-Job-Elizabeth. See? The circle of life.

In my second post to college students, I suggested that freshmen should get to know their professors immediately. This is my echo to you: keep a strong relationship with your professors.

Say hello to them, stop by during their office hours just to say "Hi," ask them for help, and keep them informed about your future plans. If you don't already have a job (because you're not a 2011 Superhero), then you're going to need their guidance very soon.

These men and women provide your recommendations for internships, graduate school, and job applications. Treat them well, as human beings, but also as people who are invested in you and your future.

Go on a tour of your campus. You haven't been on one of these since you were a senior in high school. Write down how it felt differently than the first time you toured.

Take pictures like you're a tourist.

Consider planking.

Buy a journal and make a goal to write in it every week. Pick a day and set a time, no excuses, to write for at least five minutes about anything on your mind. Get into the habit and you will eventually write more often and longer than five minutes, once a week.

This is a routine that can vastly improve how you digest your life.

Pick a freshman, or six, and become their friend. If you already make a habit of being friendly, that's wonderful! Do it more.
Aw, look! Freshmen.

The first few weeks of freshman year can set the pace for the whole semester. The first semester sets the pace for the year. The year can set the pace for who one hangs out with and what influences him or her.

Of course there are opportunities for change and new directions throughout those four years, but how many more smart decisions would you have made if a big, bad senior befriended YOU in your first week. If you had a stable, devout role model and confidant, would you have made some of the choices you now consider misguided?

Evangelizing doesn't have to begin with, "Hey, I'm Billy Bob. Have you found Jesus?!"

It can begin with, "Hey, can I help you carry that?" or "I always get lost in this part of campus, where are you headed?"

Any other alums are encouraged to share YOUR advice for seniors!


Liesl said...

Hahaha that baby! My family friend back home has 5 kiddos ranging in age from 11 months to 8.5 years and they will all randomly fall asleep in whatever they were doing last. The baby's pictures are the cutest because she will fall face forward like this kid wherever she is and conk out. So cute!!!!

I have to definitely agree with #7... I was in marching band so you get a chance to know people of all different ages. I cannot tell you what it means to a freshman to have an upperclassman help them out (discreetly) when they're having a rough time. I can't even count the number of freshman that ended up crying to me my last two years in band because everything had just reached it's breaking point. I've had some people say, "I don't know how I would have gotten through that semester without your help." These friendships have even opened up the way to some hardcore talks about Christ and Catholicism, which wouldn't have happened otherwise. Some freshman that I met as a senior are still some of my best friends!

Emily said...

I have got to say, these are extremely helpful. Jim's brother was that upperclassman to me, and I'm (obviously) still close to him. He never knew it at the time, but I so appreciated all of his help and advice when I was having a rough time.
I will never understand the whole planking trend. Hah.
Also, having a full-time internship made me get a taste of how the real world is. I honestly think I'm going to appreciate this year so much more because I know what it's like to work in an office for 40+ hours a week. It makes me all the more anxious to get back to school (even if it's only for one more year :( )
Love this post!

Allie said...

Ah, I loved all nighters in college. Computer science students seemed to pull a lot of them, and we could all do it in our lab together. Some great bonding experiences there. :)

Also, love the advice about profs. I was lucky to go to a tiny school where you pretty naturally got to know your profs, but keeping in touch with them (even after graduating) has really helped me get advice on my life post graduation to help meet my career goals.

Jessica said...

School is much different from work and if I could go back, I would smack myself in the face every time I complained about being busy or not having enough time to do something.

I wouldn't. I was busier as a college student than I am now working full time. I don't know how I did it. I look back and feel like I had no free time in college. I could never understand how people could go out and party every night--I didn't have that kind of time! As much as I loved all of the things I was involved in--the student orgs, my campus job--I wouldn't want to go back to that period. I love the fact that I get to come home at the end of each workday and have no obligations, no homework, no posters to make for club events...

By all means, dive in and do everything you want to during college, but don't stress out about whether you'll be even busier after college or worry about not fully appreciating your breaks. Just like college, life after college is what you make of it.

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