Don’t dry your clothes in the microwave and other tips
Celia is headed to college. At 18, Celia knows how to jump-start a car, write a check, make a doctor appointment and stand up for herself if she’s being mistreated. Let’s hope she has enough sense to change her sheets more than once a semester, not to leave food sitting out, and empty the lint screen before starting the dryer. And she better know that the microwave will not speed-dry her clothes, as my friend Kristen learned her freshman year.
Celia’s pretty set on the basics of living on her own — even if we’ve failed miserably at getting her to keep her room neat and make her bed every day (not for lack of nagging). But before we drop her at the dorm and embark on the lonely drive back to our too-quiet house, here are some last tidbits of parental advice.
1. Go to class! We hope you’ll make friends and get involved with exciting things. But remember why you worked so hard to get here and make learning your biggest priority. Keep up with the reading, study every day, and you’ll still have plenty of time to play.
2. Get to know your professors. Especially at a big school, it can be intimidating, but you’ll get more out of school if you introduce yourself to your professors and go to office hours at least occasionally.
3. Say yes (not to that!). College is a unique opportunity to do and go to unusual things, and many of them are free and within walking distance. Try things you wouldn’t normally be interested in (plays, student movies).
4. Show up. Whether it’s a club meeting, study group, a friend’s birthday, concert, game or her move into that 3rd floor walk-up, it’s important to be there. It will deepen your relationships and experiences.
5. Eat at least five fruits and veggies a day. No matter how busy you get, take care of your body and its needs. You’ll be able to stay healthy, think more clearly and enjoy yourself more if you get some sleep, exercise, eat well and take some time to breathe, unplug and think your own thoughts.
6. Immerse yourself in new places and cultures. You have the good fortune of having this exciting opportunity to live somewhere new and travel without the binds of a full-time job or much financial pressure.
7. When you feel like judging, be curious instead. You’re going to meet people with different beliefs and lifestyles from yours, and they have had different life experiences than you. Be kind, be curious and give people the benefit of the doubt, at least the first time.
8. Trust your gut and stay true to your values. You have to live with the consequences of your actions, not the person who may be pressuring you to climb on the rickety roof or steal that sign.
9. Keep looking until you find a passion. College can give you the opportunity to explore new fields. You may be surprised to learn that you love ornithology or archaeology, or that you really don’t really like the subjects you thought you would.
10. Start saving whenever you start earning. Whether automatically or deliberately, try to put away 10 percent of what you earn throughout life so you’ll have more options when you need or want them.
11. Keep things in perspective. Suffering — and treating — life’s wounds and setbacks (whether self-inflicted or not) is part of the journey.
12. Wear sunscreen. Bring a sweater. Call your mother (and father).