A Letter To My Brother & 12 Things I Wish I Had Known Before College

Dear Jack,

I’m so proud FOR you.

Honor student. Varsity athlete. Eagle Scout.

Class of 2016.

You’re smart, sensitive, and strong.

I feel fiercely protective of you. I want you to have only the best experiences.

You’re about to leave the bubble and I’m both excited for you and also compelled to tell you “all the things.”

When I was a freshman in college, I started journaling about “what I wish I had known before I went away to school” and so today, as we celebrate your high school graduation, I’m digging up those notes and dedicating them to you.

I wish you a lifetime of health, happiness, and leadership.

12 Things I Wish I Had Known Before College

  1. Two Hours in Your Dorm = One Hour in the Library

Location, location, location. Accomplish more in less time without distractions. Go to the library, get it done, move on. Osmosis does not work. I promise.

2. Office Hour > Happy Hour

Get to know your professors and get clarification on anything you don’t understand. Visit during office hours and have a conversation one-on-one. When you’re searching for advice, need approval to get into a specific class, or a letter of recommendation, it pays to have a support system already in place.

3. Leveling Up

The work you did to get an A in high school does not get you an A in college. Prepare to level up. You earned access into college. Now you just have to earn the right to stay there.

The freedom and the booze will get the best of some people. Someone you know will fail out.

Act like you’ve been there. Define a schedule for yourself and set the tone for own experience.

4. The 2am Rule: Anything After 2am is Overrated

Around 2am the keg starts to run low and normal people become highly motivated liquor-finding-ninjas. One person emerges, the MacGyver of debauchery if you will, to save everyone from impending sobriety, as they embark on a mission to make more bad decisions. Ok…

A) No one really needs another drink after 2am.

B) Whatever you find after 2am is going to make you feel horrible in the morning. There is not enough Tylenol (in the world).

C) People make terrible choices after 2am because they are both drunk and deliriously tired. This combination creates a weird reality. Skip the drama, save your money, and get some sleep. Trust in the 2am rule, not your 2am creative thinking.

5. The Freshmen 15 & Keeping it Clean

In the simplest terms, greens go with everything. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, greens are always a good idea.

The Freshmen 15 is very real. Beware of new friends who insist their diet “starts tomorrow” over a giant plate of wings and beer … every Tuesday.

Beer calories add up quickly, sugary drinks give the worst hangovers, and if you don’t know someone, you don’t know what they’re serving you.

BYOB and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

6. Deferred Gratification & The Deluge of “Free” Money

Deferred gratification: the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward.

Going to college means you have a general grasp of deferred gratification. Now apply the same idea to your finances.

As a college student, you’ll receive more credit card offers than you could ever imagine. I come from the future and I’m here to say it isn’t worth it. It took me 10 years to pay off my credit cards.

Live like a college student now so you don’t have to live like a college student after you graduate.

7. No One Owes Me Anything

There’s this tension between adolescence and adulthood. An expectation. A privilege. When you let go of any expectations, you learn a tremendous amount about yourself. The truth is that no one owes you anything. You’ll always have the support system that you nurture, but embracing self-reliance is liberating. Empowering.

8. Be Resourceful and Intern for Someone You Admire
Don’t get caught up in the actual work you’re assigned to do at your internship — it’s not meant to be glamorous. Focus on the relationships. They can last a lifetime.

When I was in college, one of my favorite professors became the editor of a magazine. I immediately offered to help. I was not paid and I did not receive college credit, but I knew the experience would be important. The only obstacle was the drive and the high price of gas.

To earn gas money, I waitressed and did odd jobs. One night I worked at a hair salon, helping with inventory, to earn some quick cash.

That one semester of interning is how I landed my first job in New York.

9. Do The Work To Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Being out of shape sucks. Everything is more difficult and exhausting.

You will frequently have different projects and tasks competing for your time, but when it comes to personal health “put your oxygen mask on first.” Take the time to eat real food, breathe, and move.

When you feel comfortable in your own skin, you have the confidence and energy to get what you want.

Many challenges will prove to be a test of endurance… and not necessarily skill.

10. Trust Your Gut

As an Eagle Scout, you’ve started developing leadership skills and you’re learning to trust yourself. Continue honing these skills and be awake to what’s happening around you.

If you feel like something is not a good idea, GTFO! You don’t need anyone to validate your decisions.

11. Breathing is the Most Underrated Source of Power

You don’t have to figure everything out all at once. Final exams will come and go, but having a strategy to manage stress is a life skill (they should be required to teach in college).

Develop your own method and try this one in the meantime: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds. Repeat several times.

12. Your Support System

College (and life) will present you with challenges and heavy decisions. There is always a solution. Slow down, breathe, and remember you have a network of friends, family (an awesome sister!), and people who are invested in your success and happiness.

Remember to Facetime us once in awhile.

In summary, I love you and I’m always here for you and if you forget everything else I’ve shared, please don’t text and drive and avoid anyone who does.