Lessons I Learned After 8 years of College

E sitting on my car with the sticks he collected on campus while I studied one day.

E sitting on my car with the sticks he collected on campus while I studied one day.

E is no stranger to a college campus. He spent his early years on the campus of my college as I worked on my degrees. He went to study groups with me, he went to work at the computer lab with me, he sometimes even went to class with me. Once – he even proctored an exam. One of the professors in my department had to make a phone call so she asked him to sit at her desk and report back to her if anyone cheated while she was gone. He was four.

Today, we visit the college campus he will most likely be attending in the Fall. It was the college I wished I attended at several points in my life as I had tons of friends there. I saw George Clinton & the P-Funk Allstars there!

My point? I’m excited. He’ll love it.

But I have been thinking about the lessons I hope he carries with him next year. Lessons I learned and that I hope he’ll take to heart when they apply. Thought now would be a good time to put them in a list. To distract me from fact that I’m VISITING A COLLEGE CAMPUS WITH MY SON. IS IT TOO EARLY TO START DRINKING?

  • Learn to hacky sack – Some of my fondest memories of college were build in hacky sack circles. It also is the easiest way to meet people. Especially cute hippie-boys.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to reinvent yourself. I wore combat boots and fishnets my first day of class after 12 years of catholic school uniforms. It was the best feeling ever. I also tried to get people to call me “Kimberly” but that didn’t stick. Some things won’t. It may sound cliché, but it’s the truth: You get very few – if any – opportunities in your life to totally start over with your identity, don’t waste it.
  • Go to class. Even if you’re exhausted and unable to function, try to at least go. I learned that it was much easier to blow off an entire semester and take an “F” if I never went. Not that you would EVER do something so irresponsible.
  • If you have a community shower? Buy some flipflops. Seriously. Those showers are even disgusting for girls, I’m sure the boy’s showers are about one million times worse.
  • Explore the campus. College campuses are amazing places with tons of history. Find your favorites places. Remember – your brother is named after my favorite building on the campus I attended.
  • Drink regular coffee. Learn to tolerate regular coffee by coming up with a sweetener/creamer recipe that makes it tasty to you. Fancy coffee is expensive and you don’t want to get hooked on something that costs $5 a pop. I like my coffee with two Stevias and flavored creamer. I save lattes for special occasions. This will also benefit you on the middle-of-the-night Waffle House visits. There may be a layer of grease on the bathroom floor, but you can still get a decent cup of coffee there if you’re not too spoiled.
  • Take advantage of the ability to wear your pajamas to class. SERIOUSLY. Some may tell you it gives a bad message to your professors. But I tell you this: You will never get another opportunity to wear pajamas in public on a regular basis. IT IS A WONDERFUL FEELING.
  • Call/text/email your Mom every day the first month you’re gone. She is going to be a mess without you. Ease her into this if you can.

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16 Responses

  1. Bren says:

    For the over 21 crowd – learn to love whatever drink or beer they run specials on. I once went out with 3 dollars – enough for 3 beers (yes – back in the day) but it was enough for me to be out with friends for several hours!

    Find the much talked about after hours food – at my school it was the “Bagel Man” who toasted bagels on a grill and had about 25 different things you could load on to it. Years later I still meet people who went to the same school and they all know the Bagel Man!

    Enjoy every minute because college really is a special time that will live with you forever!

  2. Cassy says:

    Love this post :)

  3. Heather M in AL says:

    I am so excited for E! I taught at UM for 7 years, we lived there for 10, and my dad, husband, and brother and graduated from there. From everything you’ve said about him, it will be a great fit for him. He will LOVE the College Night process! If you have any questions about the university or town (my parents are retired teachers from the high school and still live there and so do my brothers), I would love to help in any way I can. Best of luck to E and Go Falcons!

  4. Kate says:

    I love this post. I’m so excited for you and E! And the point about coffee is SO true. Many nights spent studying (among other things) in Waffle House and Denny’s here. And the flip-slops for the shower. YES to that.

    Can I just maybe say, about the pajama thing, well, maybe just use your judgment about where and when to do that. If it’s a class where you want to work with the professor more in the future (like, a class in your major), or if you can see asking the prof for a letter of recommendation for a job/internship/special program later on…maybe don’t wear the pajamas to that class. Those are situations where looking a little more put together definitely can’t hurt. In my experience, faculty really do tend to perceive students in PJs as being (at best) uninterested in the class or not committed to their education — but it can even come off as lazy and disrespectful (depending on the person in question, I’m sure). Honestly, even the persistent trends of Nike shorts, leggings as pants, and Uggs get discussed negatively among faculty where I teach. I hate to say that, but it’s true. A great student will be great no matter what he/she is wearing, of course. Just proceed with caution.

    Best of luck to both of you!

    • Zoot says:

      It was more about me being jealous I can’t wear my pajamas around anymore than anything. I’ve never even seen E leave his bedroom in pajamas, must less the house. :)

  5. Meredith says:

    Isn’t this College Night weekend? E will LOVE it there. They have such an awesome theater program- I wondered if he had considered that school. And the campus is gorgeous– it’s one that I and several friends use to photograph people all the time, one of my friends got married there…it’s such a cool place. Good luck, E!

    • Zoot says:

      No, he’s going to miss College Night b/c that’s the weekend he has “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at school – and he’s Charlie so he can’t really miss :)

  6. Shawna says:

    Do people still hacky sack? When I went to university cards was the big thing to bond over, but then I have the coordination of a pregnant hippo and couldn’t hack if my life depended on it.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Heh. While I agree with Kate that professors talk about student’s dress choices (oh the low cut tops no thank you!), I wore pjs to school too. Unless I think the pjs indicate you didn’t bother getting enough sleep to pay attention, I’ll just chuckle. Although Kate is right, too, that one should be more careful about professionalism (dress and otherwise) with professors you’ll need something from. I always tell my students about the student who sent me an email that read like: yo Prof. Can u write a recommendation 4me?-Bdog”. I had to tell this (reasonably smart, technically literate) kid that no, I couldn’t recommend him for a job.

    This list is pretty awesome. I’d add “figure out the library, particularly the good study spots” and, when applicable, “figure out how drunk is ok and fun without being dumb”. Also: don’t procrastinate. (Ha)

    Good luck, E, and give your mom extra love!!!

  8. Kelly Holmes says:

    Go to class – I needed this advice! Oh, the classes I just ended up taking an F in. To this day, I still have dreams about being at the end of the semester and knowing I have a test but realizing I haven’t gone to any of the classes the whole semester.

    For his coffee – a great sweetener/creamer option is chocolate milk. Takes care of it in one fell swoop!

  9. Mandee says:

    My dad was a music major at Montevallo back when it was Alabama College. He loved it! Starred in many a musical there. Hope E loves it.

    Loved your advice, too. College is such a great time.

  10. yuetching says:

    Thanks for sharing the photo of young Lilz..how he has grown!!!~On to stage and college!!!

  11. I love your writing and your blog! Great, great stuff. Plus you run, so automatically cool. I wish I could have met you today at Monte Sano.

    Good luck to your boy at college. Sort of dreading that day in nine more years.

  12. Does E remember proctoring the exam? I often wonder what memories are lasting ones…

  13. Heather says:

    This one kills me, but I would also say, don’t come home every weekend. I was a Resident Assistant at the U of O and I noticed that the kids who went home all the time missed out on a lot of campus life and didn’t seem to enjoy school as much. Not sure if going home was a cause or effect, but I am encouraging my daughter (who is at school only 1 hr away by freeway) to only come home for holidays and breaks, even though it kills me. :)

    This one is for you: send little cards and packages frequently. College kids love getting mail and they don’t get much. I always send a care package during dead week (the week before finals) and I send candy before Halloween and an advent calendar before Christmas. I know I have tons of fun figuring out what to send.

    Unrelated but ALSO!!! Sleepwalk With Me is on Netflix!!! You can watch it after all! YAY! I immediately thought of you! And it is much less depressing than Les Miz!

  14. Han says:

    We found that if our lecture finished at 12 we could make it into town to the local pub who did a Breakfast until 12:30pm and make up for the fact that a 9am lecture on a Monday sucked. Then again I live in the UK so Uni is different to college more than I ever realised!

    Then again my bestie has just started a research post at Columbia :D

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