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First-Year Philosophy (Things You Should Know Now, so You Don't Feel Goofy Later)

Posted by on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 in Advice for Parents, Freshman Commons, Living on Campus, Preparing for College.

Like Carl Jung, you could hear your inner self telling you – almost imploring you to listen…just this once. Of course, as usual – you went against the wishes of your subconscious and you brought with you – on move-in day – in your first year of college that outdated shirt that flung you in a timewarp back to high school quicker than Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.

After 7 years of participating in and observing move-in day, I offer some colloquial and philosophical advice on preparations to implement now for your first year in college later. You will thank me later.

The Whole Kitchen Sink?!!
– Do your mom and dad a favor. Don’t take every single item of clothing you own to college. That stuff is heavy, man. The truth is: you will buy more clothes, more shoes, more jackets, more posters and more miscellaneous items during your first year on campus. Much of the extra stuff you brought from home? You won’t use it. Not even once. Take what you like and need for school, but just take what you feel is necessary and not excessive. The first two years of college will be one of the most mercurial transformative years in your life. The things you bought as a high schooler were bought in the context of your life as a high school student, but now you are a college student. You can still bring your woobie(security blanket), though. Yet, things like your high school letterman jacket and t-shirts and yearbook are nice, but not necessary. Don’t bring them to campus. You’re not moving out of the house. You’re just going to college. You’ll be back home – at least twice each semester.

The Emperor with Cool Clothes On
– I get it. You want to make a great impression on your newfound friends in your first few days of college. Yet, college is not like Project Runway on the Bravo Channel. It’s just college. You should not spend an entire summer’s wages on a new wardrobe. It’s not necessary. A few things here and there will be good enough. The most important thing is to dress comfortable, but you still want to dress fairly hip and cool. A good philosopher would tell you that “Cool” is a relative term.” Yet, everyone recognizes “cool” when they see it. Cool is being yourself.
Clothes to Invest In(these items are only suggestions)
1. khaki shorts
2. maybe cargo shorts (personally, I am not a fan of cargo shorts, but to each his own)
3. Two Vanderbilt t-shirts (as if there was any question)
4. own a cool pair of shades
5. a pair of cool, but durable sandals

Willy Wonka and the Workout Factory
– What if Willy Wonka had a fitness center instead of all that chocolate everywhere? He’d probably be high on life and not on chocolate. He’d be working out a lot instead of eating all that chocolate. He really didn’t eat the chocolate much, but hey…it was there. Why not? I’d indulge. If Willy was a first-year college student, he probably would be a candidate for the “Freshman 15.” “The Freshman 15” is a pop culture reference to the expected weight-gain of 15 pounds for first-year students. “The Freshman 15”, while overhyped, is true. Like the aliens in X-Files, it does exist. My suggestion? Begin a workout regiment now, so that it becomes a part of your normal routine when you arrive on campus. College brings a significant change in lifestyle. You may be eating later than usual because of your studies or extracurricular activities. You may even eat more than usual because you find yourself more idle. There is lots of free time in college, and if you don’t constructively occupy your time – you may spend too much time being idle with a pack of twinkies within arm’s reach. All these things affect your caloric intake. Start jogging regularly. Life some weights. Take regular walks with your friends. These activities will soon become a seamless part of your life in college.

Relationships 101
– College will be the only period in your life when you will be around so many people of the opposite sex. This is statistically true. What is more – almost everyone will want to be your friend. This is also true. You may even unsuspectingly fall in love with someone who just happens to be one of the first individuals, amongst a group of fascinating people, you have recently met your first few days on campus. Not so true. The truth is – that notion is also not out of the question. If we want to be really philosophical about it, anything can happen. My best advice here is to take your time just meeting people and making friends. There is no rush to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend in enough time to meet the folks for Thanksgiving.

Remember Mom and Dad
– Your parents will miss you. You may not even know this, but for some of you – you are quite possibly one of your mom’s or one of your dad’s best friends! Really. For mom and dad, it goes from 18 or 19 years of seeing their best buddy at home everyday…to only seeing your buddy about twice each semester. Yet, amongst the tears, this is a welcomed joy for your parents. Your mom and dad are just happy that their buddy is entering their next progression of life as a maturing young adult. And like good friends, they will be there when you need them. The cool thing is that they’ve been through a lot of this before. Parents are a good source of information, and they can put a historical perspective on the most immediate situations you face in college. Really. Do me one more last favor? Let ’em know every now and then how much you love ’em.