All The Advice My Daughter Needs Before Going To College

Darling Daughter:

“I’m coming with you.” That’s the family joke, right? That when you go to college, I’m coming with you.

Well kiddo, I wasn’t joking at all.

From the second you were born and Dr. Katz said, “It’s a girl,” I’ve had every intention of never letting you out of my sight. Being a girl out in the world is tough. I want to protect you from pain, sadness, heartbreak and venereal diseases. I want to make sure no one takes advantage of you or puts your safety in jeopardy. That, and I want to make sure you never let your roommate Cameron convince you to Facetime naked with the entire Sigma Kai fraternity because “you have better boobs than she does.”

Sadly, I won’t be coming to college with you after all. It’s not that I came to my senses and decided it was time to cut the cord. Actually I didn’t get in, something about me not meeting the minimum requirements. We all know that’s a polite way for college admissions folks to say, “too old.”

I’ve also investigated employment opportunities on campus. There’s that minimum requirements thing again, whatever that means. Apparently you can spend 18 years feeding an entire family 3 times a day, but you can’t get a job serving pizza to stoned students because a transfer student who worked at Arby’s got the job instead. So unfortunately, I won’t be living nearby in the non-student-housing either.

And since I found Dad’s computer open to the web search, “signs your wife is having a breakdown,” I’ve decided to stop pursuing my lifelong dream of going to college with you and instead, leave you with some pearls of wisdom that I think will help you along the way.

When Grandma dropped me off for my first day of college she simply said, “Always balance your check book”, shut the door to my dorm room and was on her way. In hindsight, I realize she too had probably surrendered her dream of going to college with me and the pain of saying goodbye to me was just too much. She couldn’t protect me from a lifetime of firsts: my first heartbreak, my first girl fight, my first yeast infection, but she could protect me from a bad credit rating.

So I, too, would like to be helpful to you as you set off on your way. First and foremost, you need to know that everybody is not doing anything. Some boy from your history study group or that cute guy you met at little sister rush at Delta Tau is going to tell you everybody’s doing whatever he wants you to do and so should you. There is no everybody and they’re not all doing anything. So while college is about experimenting, it’s also about finding your voice. And there’s nothing wrong with using your voice to say, “Everybody may be doing doing it, but I’m not. Thank you very much.”

Your roommate’s going to be crazy.

There, I said it. Your roommate is going to be crazy.

Yes there is the chance that you’ll get that one well-adjusted girl from San Diego, but the chances of having a sane roommate your freshman year of college is slim to none. That’s because while you are living on your own for the first time, so is Claudia from Trenton New Jersey, or TerriAnne from Boise, or whichever gal from whichever town the roommate gods pair you with while promising you lifelong friendship and a place in each other’s weddings.

It’s not going to happen.

For the first week of school, you’ll think you scored in the roommate lottery. You’ll finish each other’s sentences and text each other from the other room. You’ll share scrunchies and get your period at the same time. And then Week 2 will start and you’ll realize your roommate’s enthusiasm for you is actually insanity and you’ll start thinking of ways to get transferred to a single room just to avoid yet another crazy roommate. I won’t say, “I told you so.” I’ll just think it. Then, I’ll help you pack.

In the moment, you’ll think you’ve somehow failed college because you haven’t met your best friend yet and it will seem like everyone else has. They haven’t. They just didn’t have a mother who warned them that their roommate was going to be crazy. Give it a week or two, maybe even more. Your lifelong friends and future bridesmaids are out there. You just might not be living with them right now.

You should also know that vegetarians have terrible gas. Remember this when Cameron, or Claudia, or whomever you’re hanging with at the time says, “Let’s become vegetarians” as if giving up a full protein group is as easy as getting a bikini wax. It’s not. I foolishly listened to my college bestie, Karla from Sante Fe, who thought becoming a vegetarian was the quickest way for us to lose our newly found freshman fifteen.

Let me save you the trouble and the stomach full of air that will inevitably need to be released during finals or at the Miami Nights Party at the ZBT house. Sorority girls may sleep their way through college, but vegetarians fart their way through. Trust me, the reputation the easy girl with the blonde hair gets is far less damaging than the nice girl who cuts the cheese during her Comparative Literature final. Talk about viral. That story will spread faster than the S.T.D.’s at the Kappa house. So if you want to lose the freshman fifteen, stop eating pizza at 4 am with a whip cream chaser and keep on eating chicken. Your reputation depends on it.

I’d also like to suggest you don’t use the word “like” as a noun, verb, adjective and complete sentence. I understand that the word like is like super common and like just slips into conversation.

It also makes you sound like a moron.

And since you could get into college, we know you’re not a moron. So please, don’t like talk like one.

At some point every college student is going to have to pick a major. My major was Theatre, also known as “Mom and Dad just died inside.” Your dad and I don’t really care what major you choose, but I would like to offer a little guidance.

All majors are relatively useless, especially the fun ones. And the real value in a major is getting to impress grown-ups when you come home for Thanksgiving break. So while it’s okay if you choose Broadcast Journalism as your major, keep in mind that everyone over 22-years-old is going to be mentally laughing at you when you tell them. That’s because no one has ever made any money from studying Kabuki, Art History or Broadcast Journalism. They had a good time, but they didn’t earn a dime. And no, no one earned a dime from a Theatre major either. Trust me.

Wear your retainer.

You may feel goofy when your roommate with the D-cup says it’s “so lame” that you still wear a retainer, but when she turns 30 and her teeth look like she’s been gnawing on metal, she won’t think you’re so lame with your straight teeth that are all original. So unless you’ve got a boy sleeping over, slip on the hardware and take care of your pearly whites. Someday you’ll thank me.

Last but not least, remember the only things in life that are permanent are S.T.D.’s and babies. So whatever crazy roommate you befriend, major you choose, boy you date or class you take, it doesn’t really matter. Your choices now seem like they dictate your entire future, but they don’t. They just dictate you next choice. This is your time to experiment, have fun, make mistakes, and make good choices and bad. Nothing’s permanent, except that burning and itching thing you got from the guy who told you everybody was doing it.

So don’t think you have it all figured out just now. You don’t. You’ve got a lifetime to do the right thing. College is your time to sometimes do the wrong thing. And it’s your time to figure out who you are and what you want. As much as I want you to stay young, innocent and protected for your entire life college is all about you, not me.

So enjoy and know you’re going to be okay, no matter what. Just call me on occasion. And for god sake, balance your checkbook!





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