06 January 2015

Dear College Freshmen

Greetings from winter break--it's fantastic to see you! I worried about you all semester, my heart breaking as I read your September tweets, so full of longing for family and friends as you struggled to adjust to an entirely new life. My stomach churned as I followed your transition to full-time studenthood, complete with entirely too many accounts of parties and sketchy situations. I crossed my fingers as you began finals, and smiled at the pictures of your giddy reunions.

I am so happy you survived!

Now I'm going to tell you a secret: College isn't the most important thing you will ever do. I don't know what the most important thing will be, because life is a series of events strung together, sometimes deliberately, sometimes desperately. You can have the next four years mapped out and it can all fall apart in four months. For some of you it already has, and I want you to trust me when I say it's going to be okay.

Most of you are eighteen years old, adults only in the eyes of the law. You're stuck in an uneasy place between your parents' imagining and your own creation, and it's making all of us twitchy. As a mother, I feel confident in telling you to ignore us.

Your parents love you with a depth and breadth that is unfathomable. It's like first love to the nth degree. The problem is, when you create a human being you tend to get over-invested. Sometimes the line of delineation blurs and we forget that you are a separate, fully formed individual whose thoughts, dreams, and voting preferences may be different than ours. We look at you as a vessel, waiting to be filled with inspiration, education, and clearly superior Democratic principles. Now is a good time to hold up a mirror to show us our true reflection, and go confidently into the future!

Except I don't really mean that last part. How can you go confidently when this is all new? I hope you're making mistakes, and it would be awesome if you learned something from the process (please, please, especially the ones that harm you), because you aren't supposed to know everything yet. And if you've decided that your university, or the college experience in general, isn't right for you then pat yourself on the back for figuring it out so quickly. You just made a savvy business decision to save 20/30/40 grand while you calculate your next move!

I'm so excited to see what you're going to do next, and, if I'm lucky, for many years to come. I hope your journey is as hilarious, heartbreaking, joyous, scary, and unexpected as mine has been so far. Now go do the most important thing of your life--live it, and make it uniquely, unequivocally your own.




  1. You have an amazing way with words, and it sounds like you're also a very understanding parent. I've always tried not to blur the lines when it comes to my kids (who are now in their thirties.) They're different than I am in their likes and dislikes, and yet we get along quite well. As their parent I love them, but more importantly I really, really, like them.

  2. Nothing less than wonderful words, insight, perspective- and love!

  3. Awesome!
    Truly, the SP is three and last night I was thinking what a PERSON she already is, how seriously she thinks and how alarmingly separate from me she is as an individual. To go all Victorian, up until recently she was my creature, wanting only to be with me and imitate and be adored. Now she's stubbornly her own and I am not so much adjusting to this development.
    Missed you, babe. Welcome back!

  4. Love this. Definitely sharing with pertinent young people in my home. Xoxo

  5. Going to college can really be arduous at first, but you will get the hang of it real soon. At the very least, you can keep your scholastic standing and degree, while having lots of back-ups on the table, as far as college options are concerned. You don't have to settle with that one, much less where you are. At the very least, you can adjust your scholastic grounding, depending on your concerns. All the best to you!

    Valerie Casey @ College Funding Freedom

  6. I am very behind on reading, made obvious by an April comment to a January post, but I am so glad this is here to read. I don't have college-aged kids and even when I do there is truly no way to know at this point if college will be prepared for them. However, if this all comes to pass, I hope that I am as wise as you are. And if not, I hope I'm smart enough to remember this is here.

    1. Because you were so kind to actually READ my January post in April, I will do my best to craft one now that you can read in June :-)


Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.