Letter Home: Yes, college has changed me

David Hancock, Graduated Staff Writer

It hit me when I was in bed at 11:30 at night, scrolling through the pages of the Federalist Papers:“Wow, college really has changed me.”
High school me would have been looking at Instagram or Twitter or playing Bloons Tower Defense during the late hours when he knew he should’ve been sleeping, but finding no respite. He also would’ve never used the word “respite,” or read even one of the Federalist Papers; nor would he have been capable of doing all his homework and cooking a full meal (orange chicken, potstickers, rice, and freakin’ broccoli!) for himself and a friend ─ fulfilling both his academic and social obligations simultaneously ─ while ALSO doing a load of laundry in the meantime, and then running the dishwasher overnight while he slept.
So yeah, I’m basically an adult now.
When y’all get to college (yes, I say y’all now. My roommate is from Texas, and it’s just a damn useful word so lay off), it’s gonna be a shock. Don’t date anyone your first semester. Just don’t. Even if you go to a college with a nice meal plan and don’t have to worry about cooking, you’re going to need time to get used to adulting before you can handle anything else. Also, if you can, wait before getting a job for the same reason.
College is great because you get a dose of adulthood without being thrown into the fire completely. Being late to class is dumb and don’t do it, but it’s also not as bad as being late to work, so if you’re normal and come late to class a couple times, just take it as a learning experience. Enjoy your classes, enjoy learning. Also, have a bedtime. Wake up earlier than the latest you possibly can without being late. And, although I don’t have a choice in this anyways because my college has a business-casual dress code, wear something decent to class. You’re less likely to fall asleep in jeans or slacks as opposed to sweatpants, and your professors are more likely to tell you about an internship opportunity.
The most important advice I can give for going to college, though, is to MAKE FRIENDS! Sure, grades matter, but it’s not like you need to have a perfect GPA to get accepted into college, you’re already there! (If you’re planning to pursue higher education it matters a little bit more, but still not as much.) Especially at the beginning of the year, prioritize being social! When you break down because midterms are coming (yes: when, not if), it’ll be the friends you’ve made and not your stupid study habits that bring you back to Earth after your anxiety made you incapable of studying or focusing at all, for that matter.
College friendships are like a million times better than high school friendships just by the very nature of the environment you’re in. No one has to ask their mom if they can hang out, they just do it! So if someone is spending time with you it’s because they want to, and it also means they made you a priority in their life, above schoolwork and laundry. Your time is truly your own; spend it wisely, but don’t be stingy. Giving an hour away for coffee with a friend isn’t a waste. You’ll probably pass that class anyways and never think about the hour you didn’t spend studying ever again, but that hour spent getting coffee could be the beginning of a relationship that will last a lifetime.
Get to know people. Ask them where they’re from and what high school was like for them, and then brag about how you went to the greatest high school in the world (because you have, I asked).

David Hancock