by Suzanne Paley
With my eldest daughter going off to college next month (but still staying close enough that she can continue to spend her weekends with her current friends doing her current all-consuming activities), my biggest worry is that she won’t branch out and have the full-immersion experience I had when I went to college. This inspired me to write up my own top-ten list of advice for her. Some of it is specific to her, but I still figured it might be worth sharing.
Advice to my introverted 18-year-old daughter before heading off to college (from her introverted mother who has been there, done that)
Say yes to things. Say yes to people.
People will invite you to join them for all sorts of things. College is all about expanding your circle of experiences. Look for reasons to say yes rather than looking for reasons to say no.
Be a part of university life.
Attend lectures, plays, concerts, movies, discussions, parties, and so on. If your significant other or non-college friends are with you, bring them along. Include them in your group of friends. Don’t let wanting to spend time with them prevent you from doing anything that sounds interesting. You can always leave early if it turns out not to be your thing.
Leave your door open.
If you’re in your dorm room, and you’re not sleeping, leave your door open. An open door opens the door to serendipitous conversations and spontaneous invitations.
Sleep. Eat healthy. Exercise. Brush your hair and your teeth.
There, glad to get those out of the way, but they are all important. Sleep.
Build study groups.
Find people in your classes to study with. Even if you think you study better alone most of the time.
There will never be a more convenient time. Same goes for making a difference via volunteer or charitable work.
Talk to your professors.
Attend their office hours. Every single list ever written for college students includes this piece of advice. Even if you don’t think you need help (but especially if you do!), think up something to ask them about. You will find that for some professors, office hours are packed with students and lively discussions, and other people’s questions are more interesting than your own. They are worth attending every week just for that reason. With other professors, it will be a chance to get to know each other better, one-on-one.
Watch your grades.
As much as one might wish otherwise, grades are still important. For getting internships, getting into grad school, getting that first job, you want to have a respectable GPA.
Share your passion with people.
If you still want to leave campus every weekend for LARP events, invite some of your new friends to join you. Or start something up there.
We’d love to hear from you!
Suzanne Paley is a professional bioinformatics software developer and the mother of three gifted/quirky teenagers.