It always seemed awkward when it happens.
Sharing a few laughs and a meal at a restaurant with my college roommate, Steve, was always fun until it came time to get the check. If the waitress was halfway cute, Steve would ask for her phone number right in front of a small group of friends. This was an awkward moment and I always assumed that our waitress would politely shake her head “no” and leave our table quickly.
Instead, 8 times out of 10, our waitress would pull out a note pad, scribble her phone number and hand it to Steve. And Steve would leave the restaurant with a smug—I told you so–look on his face. This happened more times than I can remember and 5 years later led to a date that would become Steve’s wife.
What You Can Learn from My College Roommate
In college, you won’t regret the things you did—you’ll regret the things you didn’t do. Steve is a perfect reminder of this.
Whenever you have an opportunity to meet someone new, GO FOR IT! Ask someone on a date, go to a party where you don’t know anyone, and at parties, introduce yourself to strangers. You will be the life of the party and everyone will want to be your friend. These are the things that I didn’t do in college, but wish I had.
Sure, you might face rejection once or two, but who cares? The winners are those who are not afraid of rejection—in fact, they crave it. Failure is the sure sign that you are doing something right.
It took a lifetime for me to learn these lessons, and I writing this for you, so you don’t have to repeat my mistakes.
These were my final words of advice to my three kids, Lily, Tim & Alek, upon entering college at St. Rose College (Alek), Clemson (Tim) and Lily (Fordham).
How to Succeed in College
August 10, 2017
Lily, Tim & Alek,
Mom and I are very proud of your accomplishments and we know you will achieve great things with your life. We are grateful that you’ll be entering excellent colleges and we will be here to love and support you.
While there are no roadmaps for success in college, I wanted to give you a few tips—for what they’re worth—that I wish I knew when I entered college.
Take Chances: Never say “No” to an opportunity for fun. If none of your friends want to go out on a Friday night, go by yourself—you’ll have the time of your life. And even if others aren’t friendly, who cares? Be willing to accept rejection as often as you can.
Find a person in the crowd who seems shy, introduce yourself and find out a couple of things about the person that you didn’t know. Always talk in terms of the other person’s interests and you’ll make a new friend every time.
Set Specific Academic Goals: Set a goal to be #1 in your class or a 3.5 GPA. Make friends with the highest achieving students.
If you set average goals, you’re certain to get average results.
Ask for Help: Go to your professors and ask them what you need to do to improve.
As a side benefit, your professors will know how much you care and this could make a big difference in your grade.
Go the Extra Mile: Push yourself to spend an extra 30 minutes studying every night. This extra, little work will make the difference between average results and straight “A’s”.
Try to be the best version of yourself every day.
Avoid the Losers: There will be some who want you to smoke dope and drink heavily. Politely decline and stay away from the losers.
Befriend Those in Need: Help other students who are struggling to fit in. Go out of your way to make friends with someone who doesn’t have any—they need your help.
Go to Church: Attend mass every Sunday. When tempted to skip mass, ask yourself, “What is more important than spending one hour thanking God for everything in my life?”
Nothing is more important than nurturing your relationship with God. God wants you to spend time alone with him.
Avoid TV/Video Games: TV and video games are a waste of time and should be avoided.
Get Sleep: Get in a routine of going to bed at a normal hour (11 p.m.), even if others are staying up until 2 a.m. You won’t be mentally sharp and ready for class if you’re sleep deprived.
Watch Your Weight: Be careful about your eating habits—it’s easy to gain 15 pounds in your first year of college (but very hard to lose it).
Do Not Get a Credit Card: The credit card companies prey on college students, like you, because they want you to make them rich. Buying stuff with plastic is a terrible habit.
Get a Job: Strive to get a job as a resident assistant in your dorm. Meals are free, room and board are half-off and you get a $4,500 stipend. This is the easiest job you’ll ever have (but you have to interview in September).
Make Your Bed: When you take care of small things (i.e., making your bed), everything else tends to fall in place…and you have a nice, tidy room.
Blog Daily: Document your experiences in a blog every day. By the end of your four years, you’ll have a following of friends willing to help you get a job.
Build Relationships with Future Employers: Go to the job fairs, introduce yourself and follow up with those you meet.
Go out of your way to build and maintain these relationships. These people will give you an internship and 75% of internships lead to full-time employment.
Never Borrow or Loan Money: Do not borrow or loan money. This is the quickest way to ruin a friendship. And your “friends” will not repay the debt.
Call Home: Don’t forget that Mom and Dad need to hear from you. We are thinking of you all the time and need to know that you’re okay. Call us as often as you can.
Never Quit: When you are disappointed, depressed or want to go home, just remember that everyone goes through this. There’s not a person in college who doesn’t have these same feelings, at some point.
Mom and I are rooting for you and we always love you no matter what. You are a blessing to our lives and we are your biggest fans.
God bless you.
photo credit: picsaying 轻艺术-图说语录-多彩青春-现代简洁清新设计英语励志海报装饰画-No.5 – December 02, 2013 at 08:00AM via photopin (license)