Student Success Strategy #73: And finally, random advice!

A few last bits of advice from my students, who often wrote just one line of advice or information.

“Never underestimate the wrath of a roommate who didn’t get a date.”

“Homecoming events include lots of free stuff.”

“Go to the football games for the tailgate parties.  Then skip the games.”

“Carry an umbrella and a plastic bag with you to protect your books.”

“Carry your ID everywhere.”

“Your legs will stick to the chair if your shorts are too short.”

“If you find a parking space, never leave.”

“Offer to pay for some of the gas rather than driving your car.  The driver will appreciate it and you don’t risk having your car trashed.”

“Don’t leave a drunk friend alone, even if you have to leave the party early.”

“Bring lots of underwear and you can avoid laundry until Mom comes to visit.”

“Don’t drink things you don’t like.  If it’s something you need to ‘develop a taste for’ then either don’t drink it or admit you just want to get drunk.”

“Drinking games are more fun for the spectators than the drinkers.”

“Decide what you want your spring break to be.  If it’s a vacation, don’t take any books home with you.  If it’s a way to catch up or get ahead on assignments, don’t waste all your time sleeping or partying with your old friends.  If you want to do something completely different, look into the Alternative Spring Break volunteer programs.”

Student Success Strategy #73:  Listen to random advice from former students.  


Student Success Strategy #72: And Even More Advice from Students

Here is the third list from my students, who give advice based on what they wish they would have known, or what they learned in their first semester in college.  How much of this could pertain to you?

“You might get homesick, but don’t go home every weekend.  Get involved and make some new friends instead, and even your classes will seem better.”

“If you start getting depressed, see a counselor.  I went to one only because my roommate practically insisted I go.  She said she didn’t want to come into the room to a dead body or a freaked out zombie, and she was worried about me.  I was mad at her at first, but she was right.  I just needed to find out that a lot of other students feel like this too, and there are ways to deal with it.”

“If you want to be different, college is a great time to try on different personalities, but people in your high school and home life are going to run into people in your college life and you will be caught in your lies.  And don’t do anything you’ll be ashamed of because people will find out.”

“The easiest time to make new friends is in the first couple of weeks, when everyone is lost.  You can be stupid together and laugh about it later.  Even if you are shy, walk into things and introduce yourself to somebody.  It won’t always work out, but you may find someone who needs you to be a friend who isn’t a total psycho.  Then if there is a psycho who wants to be friends with you, you’ll have protection!”

Student Success Strategy #72:  Other students have survived.   You can experiment if you are smart about it.

Student Success Strategy #71: More Advice from Students

Here is more advice from my former students.   Some of them are very personal with what they share, and what their consequences were.

“Read your housing contract to see what happens if you break their rules.  I was thrown out of housing in the middle of my fall semester, but was obligated to pay for the entire contract anyway.  All I did was smoke a little weed in the room.  It didn’t hurt anyone.”

“If you are underage, don’t even hold a beer for anyone else.  The police saw me holding a red cup and busted me for underage drinking.  I’ve had beer before, but this time I was just holding it while a friend used the restroom.  I’m now on disciplinary probation and if I get caught doing anything wrong for the next year, I could be suspended from school.”

“If you’ve had a drink, don’t drive.  I got stopped for doing a rolling stop at the stop sign on campus, and they smelled alcohol.  Then I refused the breath test and my license was suspended.  My parents had to come pick up my car. ”

“Pizza every night tastes great, but if you’ve heard of the “Freshman 15″ don’t believe it.  You can gain 30 pounds in a semester if you aren’t careful.”

“Every party is not the best. party. ever. no matter what your friends say.  You’ve still got to study.  You’ve still got to get to class, even your morning classes.  Trying to learn chemistry with a hangover is impossible.  Just staying awake after two nights out is impossible.  I learned the hard way, with a 1.72 GPA.”

Student Success Strategy #71:  Listen to students who learned from their mistakes.  

Student Success Strategy #62: Go Team!

I never attended a single football game while I was in college.

Big mistake.

I’m not thrilled with football, or even most sports in general, but I missed out on one of those experiences you just can’t get once you leave college.

Oh sure, as a working adult you can go to football games, but you won’t be part of the identity of the team, and you won’t have a built in cheering section including you as a vital part of them.   Even if you aren’t impressed by the commitment to the school that the athletes made and are making every day in practice, even if you think they should pay more attention to academics, and even if you think they are idolized way beyond their worth, being part of the student section at a football game is an experience you shouldn’t miss.

It’s like orientation, homecoming, or even graduation.  Think of it as a ceremony that you don’t really understand until you are part of it.  You can read about it, watch it on video, and talk to others about their experience, but you can’t feel the excitement or discover why it exists until you are in the middle.

Have you been to a concert where you became part of the mob of fans?  You could feel the excitement; you were simply part of that body of humanity.   Heartbeats were in unison.  It made the experience yours.

Or were you ever an actor in a play, feeling the group dynamic among the cast? There was an electricity between the players that radiated to the audience, including them in the fantasy of the story.

Think of football as that concert, that play, or that event that you feel rather than watch.  Become part of a tradition, even if you experience it just once.  Years later, you will understand the crazy actions of the student fans on tv, knowing exactly how they were feeling, being and becoming part of their college and growing the pride in their education as well as their fun.

Student Success Strategy #62:  Go Team!  Become part of a tradition.  Add to your pride as you grow and learn.


Student Success Strategy #61: If You Need It

You spent the long weekend at college rather than going home to see your high school friends, and you found a wild party just off campus.  They didn’t care that you were underage, and the beer just kept flowing into  your glass, and somehow disappearing out of it.

You thought about asking for a ride home, knowing that you couldn’t drive yourself, but you didn’t want to seem lame to your new friends.  They were cool, they were energetic, they knew their way around campus and possibly, just possibly, could make you a little cooler too.  A few parties like this, and you’d be part of the fun crowd .

Maybe you saw yourself hanging with them at the football game, even if they never mentioned football.  Or dancing and drinking at the hot spots in town.  Or going to the great concerts coming to campus later this fall.  You certainly didn’t want to seem like a lightweight, so you just slowed down your drinking.

A few hours later, you found yourself in the bedroom, clothes tangled, and one of the hosts was urging you to relax, telling you that you were hot, so beautiful, so exciting.  You might have not wanted to have sex, but with his urging and your tiredness from a long night and, of course, a few beers, it was just too hard to convince him that you meant no.  Or he wasn’t listening at all.  Or maybe it was too late to even tell him to stop.  You really didn’t want to stop anyway.  It felt good.  If you weren’t a virgin, what is the big deal?  How could he know all the thoughts in your head?

How do you feel today?  Are you okay with what happened, or do you have regrets?  Do you have anger?  Depression?

Legally, there are several choices to make.  We’ll discuss those at another time.

Take care of you first.  Do you need to see a doctor?  A counselor?  A victim advocate?  Any of these professionals can help you work through your feelings and help you determine whether you need to take any further actions.

Check with your Student Health Center, Counseling Center, or the Police (where many victim advocates work from, although they do NOT report to the police and do NOT give the police information without your consent except in the case of child or elder abuse).   You can do this at any time, even months afterward, if you need to talk about your experience without getting judged.

Student Success Strategy #61:  If you need it, get help.  Some situations may bother you now, others later.  Help is available.

Student Success Strategy #60: Long Weekends

It’s Labor Day, and classes are canceled.  What did you do for the long weekend?

Many students living on campus or in apartments nearby return to their parents’ homes for long weekend, including Labor Day.  Is this a good idea?


If you have made a few friends, feel comfortable with getting around campus, and would like to compare notes with your former high school friends who attend other colleges, this could be a good break for you.

If you feel unsure of yourself, don’t know where everything is on campus, and need to save a little money, staying on campus might open up new opportunities.  Just like visiting a college or beginning in the summer, there will be fewer students around.  It’s a great time to take a casual walk to scope out the location of all those places you haven’t yet been.  Where is the health center?  Where is the writing lab?  If the recreation center is open, you can check out the fitness machines without so many watching you.

You may also run into others who are a little lonely, and make friends you wouldn’t otherwise find in your classes or in your dorm.  Ask them questions about their classes, their dorms, their schedules.  Compare notes on your roommates, and laugh at some of the things you found out were really not true about college.

Don’t forget that this would be a great time to review your schedule for the next few weeks, including due dates, catch up on a little reading or do a little research for a project, and of course, take a nap or just chill for a while and enjoy the time without having to interrupt your day with a class or two!

Student Success Strategy #60:  Long weekends can be a good break, but they can also be a casual education on the things you don’t do on class days.

Student Success Strategy #51: Clean Your Room?

There is a commercial on television right now with a woman in a full-body pajama-like jumpsuit.  She’s rolling around on the floor to pick up the dirt.  Her friend tells her to get whatever product it is that cleans better.

She stole my idea!

When I first when to college, my roommate Jackie and I put on sweats and rolled around the tile floor to pick up the lint.  Without bringing any cleaning supplies, we figured our floor could be clean, the washer would take the lint out of our clothes, and we’d have fun at the same time.

Our third roommate and her mother walked in about that time.  This was the young woman who had written each of us a letter with a cleaning supplies list, our individual responsibilities circled, followed by smiley faces.  Jackie and I had each ignored the letter, without any contact between us.

“Have either of you shared a room before?” asked her mother.

Janey’s mop, broom, dustpan, and Comet went into her part of the closet.

Aside from the obvious mismatch in roommates, what will you do about keeping your room clean?  Does your college offer maid service?  Most do, in part to protect against students like Jackie and me.  I recommend taking that option if there is a choice.  Even if you are neat at home, why not have your living space as clean as possible to avoid roommate conflicts, but even more important, so learning can be your first priority?

Student Success Strategy #50:  Clean your room?  Or have someone else do it?  Someone’s got to think about it.