10 simple rules for going away to college and being on your own

My oldest daughter started college this month, which was a milestone for her and for me. I drove her to her university and moved her into her dorm. When I said good-bye, I left her with a personalized letter expressing my confidence in her and other sentiments. I included a short list of advice at the end of the letter. While the note is only for her, the advice at the end is more general, so I included it here. I organized my advice into ten simple rules for going away for college:

  1. Take care of yourself. Wear sunscreen, eat vegetables every day, preferably green ones, and get 8 hours of sleep.
  2. Be someone you admire and respect, Make decisions that align with your values.
  3. Love and value you, and make friends with others who recognize your worth.
  4. Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, and don’t put up with those who are reckless with yours.
  5. Sometimes the most sensible course of action is to set a boundary. Don’t let anyone make you believe that this is selfish. 
  6. We cannot control everything. Focus on what you can control, and try not to waste time trying to control or change what you cannot.
  7. When extroverting isn’t for you, fake it until you make it. Really.
  8. Adopt a yes/and mindset instead of an either/or mindset.
  9. Laugh every day at least once.
  10. You’re not going to get everything right the first time, and things are often hard before they become easy. Be kind to yourself and use setbacks as learning opportunities. 

Preparing this list made me think of the 1999 hit music video by Baz Luhrmann entitled “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen,” adapted from a column by Mary Schmich published in the Chicago Tribune in 1997 that meant to be a hypothetical commencement speech. (In full disclosure, I reworded #4 in my list to use Schmich’s wording after rereading her column).


4 responses to “10 simple rules for going away to college and being on your own

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