This weekend I was afforded the opportunity to see my younger brother graduate high school. The moment signifies a huge shift in my family unit. First off, he the youngest in our family and has been treated accordingly. His youth always represented my continual aging and even more so now with him at the tender age of 18 and about to take on the world for the first time on his own. There are so many things that I wish someone would have told me at that age before I ventured off to college. There are some old song lyrics that say, “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.” I’ve often thought about developing a counseling group for teens that are in the same age bracket as my younger brother. Many in that age group, including my younger self, are simply not ready for the responsibility and challenges that they are about to inevitably face after leaving home for the first time.
- Live with Brutal Honesty – Be honest with yourself and others about who you are and don’t compromise what you have been taught to believe so quickly. College is a time for learning, and growth. Even though new knowledge is power, sometimes it comes at the cost of letting go of the moral values that your parents have invested years of their life trying to teach you. You are 18 years old and most likely think that you are a genius and invincible but I promise you that your old lame parents most likely know whats best for you. Take their advice because they have been their and done that.
- Create a Rigorous Schedule – If you have as much difficulty concentrating as I did in my first years of college, you are going to want to go everywhere and experience everything. The problem with this method is that eventually or sometimes immediately your school work will get put on the back burner and not accomplished. Create a rigorous schedule and learn to stick to and live within the confines of that schedule. The insider tip here is that once you are out of college the world will expect you to do this with excellence everyday. Get a head start on this and release the temptation to procrastinate.
- Pursue God before anything else – I saved this one for last because I fully realize that it is the most difficult for a college freshmen. 85% of the students going into my undergraduate college were Catholic while only 25% of them left still maintaining their Catholic faith. That statistic is a lot more disconcerting when you realize that I went to a Catholic college. With all of the stress, temptation and anti-church messages you will be exposed to, it will be really easy to completely abandon your faith. The best advice I can give is don’t.
The world will try to push and pull you in several different directions that are often times more about relying upon one’s self rather than turning to the God that knit you in your mother’s womb. Don’t fear wavering and falling away from God because you most likely will. Just remember that when you tire of relying on your own strength, God will be waiting with open arms waiting for you to pursue him.