A Love Letter To College Freshman

loveletterIt’s possible that the first weekend of your college career just passed and you’re questioning a lot of things about this whole ‘college thing’. Everyone said this would be the best years of your life so why do you feel that way? Are you thinking, ‘why do I miss home this much?’ or ‘I don’t know if I can do this…’ It’s possible that you are very unhappy right now, it’s also possible that this past weekend was the best weekend of your life thus far. Either way, I’ll be honest with you – it’s going to be hard. I mean, it may even suck at times. College, is not meant to be glamorous. It is new, it is uncomfortable, you will feel emotions you’ve never felt. You will deal with types of people you never dealt with before. It’s not natural to live in a building with hundreds of girls and guys the same age as you. It will take you a few months, maybe even a year or so for you to appreciate the reasons why it is the best years of your life. Take a deep breath and give it time. I’ll say it again… it may take a few months or even a year for you to appreciate the reasons why it is the best years of your life. It’s hard…the adjustment to college is hard and it’s okay if you hate it right now but I promise you…it. will. get. better.

If you love college or hate college, here is a Love Letter To College Freshman that you NEED to read.  – I found this on http://www.moreloveletters.com and I couldn’t have said it better!

Dear You–

It may just be you & I up and awake in the world right now.

Just you… the quiet of a new dorm room… the glow of the laptop screen… this love letter… and a feeling webbing deep in your stomach that you may never get used to all this.

Ever.

It’s not true. You’re going to do just fine. You’re already doing just fine even if it’s one of the hardest things to convince yourself of when the tears are brinking and you just want to go back home: Back to comfort. High school. A boyfriend & friendships now sitting in the pile of “long distance.” Bonfires. Summer. Familiarity. Anything but this.

It’ll be the best four years of your life… that’s what they’re telling you, right? That—if done right—these next four years will sculpt you & change you & make you ready for the real world. Truth told: this is the real world. It’s yours. Stop thinking otherwise. Don’t let a moment more slip away.

These next four years are yours to be entirely & completely selfish.

To figure out “you” and how “you” make this world a better place. So start…

Start at the coffee bar. That’s a good place to start. Just visit the coffee bar and treat yourself to something sweet—you’re in college. It’s something to celebrate.

Knock awkwardly on the doors of your new neighbors. Everyone is waiting for someone to make the first move and plan a powwow. Be that person. Decide that tonight it is the football game and tomorrow it is popcorn and a movie night in your room. Pick a movie that is both drama & comedy, with traces of home & familiarity in it for each of you.

Befriend your RA. They are not the enemy. They are here to make every ounce of this easier for you… and they’d really appreciate the chance to try.

Call home when you have to. Cry your eyes out. Take slow slugs of the broth of homesickness in the morning.

It’s ok… It’s ok…

Let the homesickness in. Don’t push it out. Talk about it. Embrace it. It will head south eventually… I promise.

Write letters. To your friends at other schools. To your long distance boyfriend. To teachers back home. Glitter the maps with your cursive to one another. Give one another a reason to track back the campus mailbox for something other than a free pizza coupon. You’ll keep those letters for years & years. You’ll one day say that there is nothing like those letters you’ve kept stacked in a box beside your bed.

And on the note of friends… step away from Facebook for a little while. Not forever. Not for always. Just enough time to be present to the here & now. The meeting of new faces. The conversations at parties. The ice breakers that, yes, you clearly don’t want to do but should anyway. Be there for it. All of it. Don’t sit in the feeds of your friends back home; start new chapters that would make them proud.

Follow. Just follow wherever this year takes you. You’ll change. It’s inevitable. But don’t shy away from the change or the chance to develop into a better friend… a better leader… a better somebody. Accept it. When people grow distant and old relationships don’t fuel you anymore, just accept it. That’s life. It’s always happening. Clear away and cut the ties you need to cut… make room for Better & More. You’ll find best friends in this place…

Don’t go crazy looking for them. You’ll find one another and in a year from now you’ll wonder how there ever was a whole two decades of Not Knowing One Another. For now, just meet people. Sink into it naturally. You’ll get there. I promise. Just find the places where people are and start there.

A club. A meeting. The newspaper. Something. Anything. Not just for social purposes– your resume is going to start mattering sooner than you think… take it seriously.

And classes too—Go. To. Them. 8am or not—Show. Up.

Study. Try harder than you’ve ever tried before. Consider a time management course. Take at least one course that interests you… thrills you… makes you think. & don’t rush to choose a major. There’s time to get your feet wet with the muds of it all.

Most of all, embrace it. All of it. The new opportunities. The events on campus. The free stuff. The chance to grow apart from everything you’ve ever know. The chance to be someone you have always wanted to be…

Sit down during this first week of college… take out a piece of paper… and write it all down. Your hopes & your dreams & your goals for the next four years. Who do you want to become? What do you want to accomplish? It’s time to start all of this.

Write it all down. Put it in an envelope. Seal it up and scribble “Do not open until college graduation day,” in big, bold letters. And tuck it somewhere safe…

Get clear on what you want to make of these next four years and then go out and do it…

You’ve got this. You’ve really got this. And if ever you start to believe that you don’t, come find me.

Love,

Someone who has been there before.

Gear Up For the First Semester

transitioningThis first month of school is critical for setting up the rest of your semester. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new freshman or a returning upperclassman the transition from home life to school life is up to you. You have the opportunity to build a strong foundation for the rest of the semester, don’t let bad habits take over. Start to take control of your responsibilities – go to the gym, eat healthy snacks, watch those ‘liquid’ calories, stay up to date on classwork, and take a look at these simple 10 to-do’s to help you build a strong foundation. I suggest you take a few minutes to do arts and crafts, write these out on a piece of paper, bring them to school with you and hang them above your desk. I am a true believe in visualization – if something is staring you in the face everyday you will do it, or accomplish it. Add to your list daily!

1. Get to know your roommates – sit with them and really get to know them. These are the people you are going to spend the most amount of time with. You don’t have to be their best friend but you do have to live with them (and they have to live with you).

2. Get Organized! Your professor may have assigned work and projects and told you about them on day 1. Don’t expect them to remind you everyday about it and if you forget to hand it in when it’s due you will not get away with the excuse ‘i didnt know it was due.’ Get a planner and fill in the dates when assignments are due.

3. Go to class – Sleeping in and skipping your morning class may seem tempting, who’s making you go anyway? Get up and go! You are paying to be there, don’t waste your money.

4. Meet with your professors. Take the extra minute to show up before class or stay after class and meet your professor. Ask them a question, or tell them that you are enjoying their class so far. They’re human (everyone likes to be given complements) and they’ll appreciate the positive feedback.

5. Let go of the pressure of having to know exactly what you want to study – You’ve probably met a number of people who say they know exactly what they want to do when they graduate (i’d bet money that majority of those people have no idea what they want to do). College is a time to discover what you want to do. Let those people do what they want to do and be excited that you aren’t locked into one track right now, you are exploring!

6. Stay healthy! Go to the gym, eat your fruit and veggies, listen to music and go for a walk by yourself.

7. Take a deep breath.

8. Don’t cut corner – nobody gets placed on the top of the mountain, they all have to climb it.

9. Seek help when you need it – are you really stressed? Are your eating habits getting out of hand? Are you drinking more than you expected? Dont be afraid to ask for help. Walk to health services (trust me they’ve seen and heard it all) and tell them what is going on. Are you confused on an assignment? E-mail your professor, reach out to a classmate or go to the tutoring center. People want to help you.

1o. Call home to your family – they miss you, they want to hear from you.

 

Music in College

Don’t be afraid to blast your music in your room or play your favorite song on repeat as you and your friends get ready.  In fact, I suggest you find a song you love and play it on repeat as you begin your night.  Songs will attach themselves to memories.  Keep track of these songs, save them in a file.  In the future when you come across these songs or happen to hear them on a ‘oldies’ radio station it will bring back great memories from some of the best years of your life.

Blast | The | Music

{gab}

6 Reasons To Befriend Your R.A.

Thank you Shanna Houston for writing and sharing this article!

It’s your first year in college, and just when you think you’ve left all rules and consequences behind, you meet your dorm resident advisor, better known as an “R.A.” At first thought, it may seem like you’ve got a live-in babysitter or substitute mom living on your hall, but the truth is they are far from it. Sure, they enforce university rules and will probably report you if you break one, but that doesn’t mean they are bad guys. In fact, most R.A.s would rather be your friend than an enforcer. Instead of bypassing your R.A.’s door or assuming they are always out to get you, take some time to get to know your R.A. All they really want to do is help you stay safe and enjoy college. Here are six reasons to befriend your R.A.

  1. They care about your well-being:  

    R.A.s are nurturing people who genuinely care about your safety and well-being. If you’re ill, tell your R.A., and they may act as a sit-in parent and help take care of you. Also, an R.A. won’t encourage you to do illegal or dangerous things that might hurt you or get you in trouble. Your friendship will be good, clean fun.

  2. They give good advice: 

    Whether you need help choosing classes or guidance in your love life, your R.A. is the go-to person to ask. Not only do they typically have a few years on you, but they also understand the immense pressures of college and becoming an adult. Even if your R.A. doesn’t have all the answers you’re looking for, they can still be a good listener or a shoulder to cry on.

  3. They know the campus well: 

    Being new to college can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost driving around town, let alone just walking from class to class. If you need help navigating your way around campus or your college town, your R.A. is the person to ask. Chances are, they have a wealth of knowledge about the area and can tell you how to get where you need to go.

  4. You won’t get in as much trouble (maybe): 

    Befriending your R.A. has its advantages, especially when it comes to staying out of trouble. Although your R.A. won’t let you get away with sneaking alcohol or a pet into the dorms, you may be less likely to get in trouble when it comes to minor, non-illegal things like being too noisy on a school night.

  5. They know people: 

    Resident advisors know a lot of people around campus, and they aren’t all fellow R.A.s either. R.A.s make connections easily and, because of their responsibilities within the dorm, they can help you find the answers you need in no time. If you want to get more involved on campus or join a student group, your R.A. will be a good source for information.

  6. They are positive role models:

    Resident advisors are positive role models for first-year students. They are committed to their studies, they follow the rules, and they assume an active leadership role on campus. Not to mention, R.A.s are typically very warm, social, and understanding people. They are good models of how to be successful in college, while balancing school and other responsibilities.

Tattoos

Tattoos are permanent.  Be very certain that you want one before you get one.  Be very certain that you are 100% sober when you get one and that the a tattoo of your roommates face across your back is REALLY want you want.  Also, relationships in college get hot and heavy a lot faster than ones in high school.  That excitement and intensity doesn’t mean that you are madly in love, therefore it is also not a bright idea to get your significant others name tattooed on your body.

ink | for | ev | er

{GMS}

Surviving The First Month

How is everyone?  I assume you are all in full swing at this point.  Classes and professors have loaded up the work, late night study dates have begun, and a new level of stress you didn’t know existed has now taken over your body.  This first month is critical for setting up the rest of your semester.  Don’t let bad habits take over.  Start to take control of your responsibilities.  Have you done to the gym yet?  Don’t let late night snacks and increased ‘liquid’ calories mess up your health.  Need a quick check up to make sure you’re doing the right things?  Read below on some Month One survival tips.  Are you doing them?  Did you remember to do them?  Have you even thought about them yet?  Enjoy!

1. Get to know your roommates – sit with them and really get to know them.  These are the people you are going to spend the most amount of time with. You don’t have to be their best friend but you do have to live with them (and they have to live with you).

2. Get Organized!  Your professor may have assigned work and projects and told you about them on day 1.  Don’t expect them to remind you everyday about it and if you forget to hand it in when it’s due you will not get away with the excuse ‘i didnt know it was due.’  Get a planner and fill in the dates when assignments are due.

3. Go to class – Sleeping in and skipping your morning class may seem tempting, who’s making you go anyway?  Get up and go!  You are paying to be there, don’t waste your money.

4. Meet with your professors.  Take the extra minute to show up before class or stay after class and meet your professor.  Ask them a question, or tell them that you are enjoying their class so far.  They’re human (everyone likes to be given complements) and they’ll appreciate the positive feedback.

5. Let go of the pressure of having to know exactly what you want to study – You’ve probably met a number of people who say they know exactly what they want to do when they graduate (i’d bet money that majority of those people have no idea what they want to do).  College is a time to discover what you want to do.  Let those people do what they want to do and be excited that you aren’t locked into one track right now, you are exploring!

6. Stay healthy! Go to the gym, eat your fruit and veggies, listen to music and go for a walk by yourself.

7. Take a deep breath – right now!….ahhh feel better?

8. Don’t cut corner – nobody got placed on the top of the mountain, they all had to climb it.

9. Seek help when you need it – are you really stressed?  Are your eating habits getting out of hand?  Are you drinking more than you expected?  Dont be afraid to ask for help.  Walk to health services (trust me they’ve seen and heard it all) and tell them what is going on.  Are you confused on an assignment?  E-mail your professor, reach out to a classmate or go to the tutoring center.  People want to help you.

1o. Call home to your family – they miss you, they want to hear from you.  Do you love your family?  Tell them.

 

Be Safe – A MUST Read!

Be safe

By Linda Oliver Grape|August 29, 2012*

“Be safe.” Those were my final words to my youngest child, Matthew, as I hugged and kissed him good-bye when he left to begin the trek back to Duke for his senior year. That phrase was part of our ritual as we said good-bye at the start of each and every semester. It felt bittersweet as Matthew headed out; it was the last year that we would have a child in college. Hotel and restaurant reservations for graduation had been made—I made a mental note that when Matthew graduated in May , I was going to walk over to Dr. Brodhead’s office and drop off a note of thanks. I was also going to write to the governor of North Carolina acknowledging our family’s fond appreciation of what had become our home away from home.

When Matthew called some 13 hours later to tell us that he had arrived safely in Durham, I was relieved and could finally relax. I said in passing to my husband and other son that the next time that Matt would be driving back to our home in Massachusetts it would be after graduation and he would be stuck driving with me. Little did I ever imagine the tragedy that our family would face just three and a half weeks later, a tragedy that would totally upend our lives. The past 11 months have been a horrific nightmare for my family. I had never imagined how Matthew would actually be returning to Massachusetts for the last time.

Around 7:15 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 15, I heard the doorbell. I looked out the window and saw a police car in front of our house. Quickly, I threw on some clothes (including a Duke T-shirt) and, with my heart racing, ran downstairs. It was the police who had the unfortunate responsibility to notify me that my son, Matthew, was “killed in a horrific car crash” a few hours earlier. I was in a state of shock and disbelief—this could not be true. My Matthew, dead…. No, this had to be an awful mistake. He was only 21 years old, a college senior with a life full of promise and great expectation. I called the Durham Police Department and spoke with the investigating officer and asked if he was certain that the victim was “my Matthew.” He politely said that he was positive that it was “my Matthew.” He also shared with me that Matthew was the passenger in the car, that he did have his seatbelt on (he was always good about that), who the driver was, that the driver had already been cited for driving under the influence with additional charges pending, and that the person who killed my son would be walking out of the Emergency Room shortly, ready for his mother to drive him home. My son was at the Medical Examiner’s office in Chapel Hill.

Still numb and in shock, I began the grueling task of telling this awful news to my husband, daughter, son, father, other family members and his friends. Several hours later, we were at the airport meeting our two surviving children. How could this be? By mid-afternoon, our family was selecting a burial plot in a cemetery in our town. None of us had ever even stepped foot in the cemetery before that day. We had to arrange to have clothes sent from Durham.

At 6 a.m. the next morning, our family followed the hearse to the airport to pick up Matthew. This made sense as we have always eagerly picked up our children at the airport. This time, however, we had to go to the U.S. Airways cargo area to meet Matthew. We were not prepared to pick up Matthew in the manner that we did. No parent or sibling should meet their child/sibling in a large, white, corrugated box with their name written across the top in magic marker. He was brought to us on a fork lift. It is a sight that is permanently carved in my memory.

Our family somehow made it through the visitation and funeral, but little did we know that the most difficult part was still ahead of us. In fact, we are still struggling with our horrendous loss. It has not gotten any easier. There are days when it still does not seem real. Losing our Matthew is concrete proof that life is so very, very unfair. I have not had a day without a good cry. The facts of the crash speak for themselves: The car was being driven at 70 mph in a 35 mph zone, and the driver’s blood alcohol level was approximately three times the legal limit. The person who killed our son has yet to speak with us or offer an apology. Based on our talking with scores of college students, it is commonplace to get in a car and not ask the driver if they are OK to drive—people just trust that it is safe for them to drive. What happened to the designated driver?

There are so many things that just don’t make sense. Why our son? Yes, he did drink, but he would never drive when drinking. Our children were given “emergency credit cards” and we never questioned a charge for a taxi. When our children were still at home, we had a “secret word” for them to let us know if they were ever in an unsafe situation. We had agreed that they would call us, tell us that their asthma had flared and ask to get picked up. (Our children do not have asthma.) Over the years, there have been dozens of conversations and admonishments about the hazards of alcohol. We went to great lengths to ensure that our children were safe. The loss of Matthew has turned our lives upside down; it has been a living hell. Holidays and birthdays are grueling—no gifts, no celebrations. We do what we need to do to get through the day.

I am confident that Matthew thought that he was invincible and that he did not think that his life was at risk. One of the most difficult aspects has been witnessing the suffering that Matthew’s sister and brother have endured. They have done nothing to deserve this much pain; it is an agony that will be with us for the rest of our lives. It is just not fair. Matthew loved his brother and sister immensely. I honestly believe that if Matthew had any clue as to the magnitude of the impact that his death would have on his siblings, he never would have consumed even one beer. He would not have wanted to cause them this much intense pain.

As you start a new academic year, I wish you much success and happiness but I beg you to please take a few minutes to pause and think about how your death would impact your family and friends. Please don’t drink to excess. Please don’t drink and drive. Life is so very fragile. Don’t take your ordinary blessings for granted. You have earned the gift of attending a wonderful, distinguished institution; I want you to graduate, not come home in a white box on a forklift. Please be safe. Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart.

Linda Oliver Grape

Duke parent ’08, ’12

Wake Forest parent ’07

*I am not the author of this article.  When I read it I had to share it.  It is retrieved from: http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/be-safe

Be Smart|Be Safe|Be You

{gab}

 

 

College Parties

Here’s the short answer of what happens at a college party – everyone gets drunk.

Your first concern is, will I get invited to parties?  Freshman girls, absolutely!  In fact, there are guys who make a game out of recruiting freshman girls to parties, so be careful because they know you’re naive and vulnerable.  Everyone – you don’t need to prove yourself when you go to your first party.  Even if you get pressured, you don’t have to drink the most or get naked and run around in order to get invited back.  So, what are they like?  Many of them are like the movies.  You walk or get a cab to the party and when you arrive there are usually people outside drinking.  Depending on the time of the night there will probably be a couple (who may or may not even know each others names) getting comfortable with one another right in front of everyone.  You walk in the house and there will be loud music playing, people hanging out on couches, playing drinking games, taking shots in the kitchen.  People may randomly walk up to you and hand you a drink (I suggest you make your own drink or bring your own, especially in the beginning).  It will be scary at first, especially with you open a door thinking it’s the bathroom but it’s actually a side bedroom and as you open the door smoke rolls out because there are a bunch of people sitting around smoking… this is normal and they will probably offer you a hit (I suggest you don’t take it, it’s probably not the same as what you did in high school and it can very well be laced with something that may or may not make the tree’s in the backyard start talking… oh yeah and it’s illegal, just sayin’).  You may also get pissed when you open the bathroom dorm and there are people having sex in the shower.  Fast forward to the end of the night – there are guys throwing stuff, breaking stuff, and putting holes in the wall for no reason.  There are people passed out on the couch that is now outside on the front lawn, just because.  Some parties will be small with only 15 people or so but some will be enormous and overwhelming.  Here are some things to think about and advice as you enter the college party scene.

  1. Be patient.  You don’t need to jump into the party scene right away.  I partied in high school but college parties were foreign to me and I wanted to get a good look at them before I started really partying.  I went out with my friends starting on day one of college because I didn’t have my first drink in college until about a month into it.  It was one of the best choices I made.  I got to see how quickly people made reputations for themselves.  I got to see which one of my friends was the most reliable when they were out (it’s always good to know which friend you can rely on).  Even if you take your time entering the party scene in the beginning you will have fours years to party!
  2. You will see things you’ve never seen before but soon enough nothing will phase you.  The first time you walk into the bathroom and see people having sex in the shower will be in awe for sure but eventually you’ll see that and probably still use the bathroom.
  3. If you don’t want to drink carry the same cup around all night and sip from it.  Towards the end of the night people will get so drunk they wont realize if you’ve been drinking or not.
  4. Wear whatever you want.  Some parties will be themed and you’ll know what to wear but for the most part, anything goes.
  5. Don’t trust people too quickly.    
  6. One bad night can ruin your entire college experience.  Don’t be stupid!  In one night you can drive drunk and get a DUI or get in an accident, you can have sex and get pregnant, you can get so drunk that you think it’s a good idea to vandalize the school and then get caught and get kicked out… people do stupid thing, your friends will do stupid things, people will tell you to do stupid things… it’s not worth it.
  7. Remember what’s right.  You will inevitably do things that you will regret and you’ll be embarrassed of things you did or things you said but if your roommate jumps in a car driven by someone you know has been drinking, don’t do it.
  8. Ultimately – people get drunk, party all night, wake up hungover, sit on the couch all day and talk about what happened the night before and then repeat.
  9. You will learn what you can handle, what you like to do, and who you like to hang out with.  College is an amazing time and the parties will make memories that will last forever.  Have fun and be safe!

 

The Good College ‘Stuff’

Hello Hello!  I have gotten a number of e-mails requesting different college topics to be discussed and it has opened a whole can of worms, I can’t wait to start typing.  First off, to the gentleman that asked if I would marry you…. let me think about it…. thinking….. thinking….. sorry, but no.  Second, it’s Saturday and while I would love to sit inside and type away about college stuff (seriously, we all know I love college) it is too nice outside and my bro is getting married a week from today so there are a lot of duties I need to take care of.  BUT!  I wanted to let you all know what’s to come in the following posts because I am so excited…..

1. Packing for school – I know, not so juicy but it’s a must considering the packing should start soon and there is no way you can pack your entire life into your college dorm and no reason that you need to buy everything is the ‘going away to college’ section at the store.

2. Making friends at college – have you asked yourself, ‘will I make friends at school?’  ‘how do I make friends?’ ‘what will my new friends be like?’… I’m sure you have… no worries!  College friend making champion is at your service.

3. Getting into a relationship at college – Wowza!  This is a good topic, boyfriends/girlfriends…. love, sex, drama, the good, the bad, unfortunately sometimes the harmful… lots to talk about here.

4. Greek life – should you do it? what’s it like? pro’s and con’s… does hazing actually go on??  you’d be surprised…

5. College parties – will I get invited to parties?  do they happen often?  is it like the movies?  Let me just say this…. when I was in high school I imagined college parties to be crazy…. when I got to college it was more than I ever imagined…. this topic is definitely the good stuff

Cheers!

{G}