Dear High School Seniors, This Is Your Last Summer Before College. Here’s What You Should Know.

My cousin will be heading off to college in the fall, and it’s hard for me to believe that the little girl who thought she looked prettier in glasses and begged me to play Barbie Dream House all day will be graduating high school soon. Mostly because I still haven’t accepted that she’s going to be in college. Probably because I still haven’t accepted that I’m almost done with college. I can’t help but think of things I wish I would have known before starting my freshman year. But I won’t make this about me; it’s about you.

First and foremost, enjoy your last summer as a ‘high-schooler.’ I never want to hear you say, ‘I can’t wait to get out of this house” or, “August cannot come sooner.” It can. And it will. And before you know it, you’ll technically be on your own. Don’t hold back, but understand that your mom still wants you home at a decent hour. Soon she won’t be in charge of that, so avoid the arguments and just do it. Come home drunk at 3 A.M. once your mom doesn’t need to watch it.

Your high school friends are going to make new friends, and so will you. No, this doesn’t mean that the friends you’ve had forever won’t matter anymore once you all go off to college. But it does mean that things will be different. You’re all going to have friends that the others only hear about from stories or tagged Instagram photos. Know that this is okay and don’t feel bad if you don’t talk to your high school bestie every single day. The realest of friendships are the ones you don’t have to maintain daily, but can always pick up right where you left off the next time you get together again.

Be friendly to everyone. You’re going to meet people everywhere: in the dorms, during class, from your sorority, and through drunken bathroom encounters at a bar. It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard about them, how they look on Facebook, or whose friend’s brother’s ex-girlfriend they are. You never know when you are introducing yourself to your next best friend. It’s more important to be known as the person who is nice to everyone than it is to be the person who’s quick to draw a circle around her group of friends. Form a crew, but don’t be cliquey. Hang out with people who help you have fun, but also who help make you a better person.

Know that the ‘freshmen-fifteen’ is a real thing. Once you get to college, you’ll be amazed at how extremely accessible (and cheap) an XL cheese pizza is. Plus a free order of breadsticks if you order after 2 A.M. Please don’t become one of those people who gets paranoid about this. Stick to your normal diet. Eat what you want, but be smart about it. Also, it’s important to note that late night Chinese delivery is so worth the longer wait.

Go to class, or it will go on without you. For the first time, nobody is taking your attendance. Your teachers don’t care if you’re too hung-over to make it to lecture. But, you’ll care once your grades start to suffer. It’s sometimes hard to remember how much money is being spent to get you a good education. I promise the higher GPA on your transcript will feel much better than those two extra hours of sleep.

On the topic of grades, accept that sometimes you’ll have to spend a Saturday night in the library. I promise that nothing dramatically life-changing is going to happen at the bar that night, so don’t have FOMO. Sometimes, emphasis on sometimes, it is more important to remember those flash cards than it is to not remember your night out. And I promise you; it is not enough to only prepare for the midterm one night before. Always start early.

On that note, don’t spend every Saturday night in the library. Grades are important, but two numbers with a decimal in between do not define you. It’s okay to stay in sometimes, but go out as much as you can. Years from now when you look back at your college experience you’re going to want to talk about your awesome stories, not your awesome transcript.

But be smart when it comes to partying. I promise it is not that fun to be the friend who always blacks out. Trust me, you’ll learn this when you’re the one taking care of someone who got a little too drunk. I’m all about pre-gaming the pre-game of the pre-game, but know your limits.

Have fun, but stay classy. There probably (and hopefully) won’t be another time in your life when it’s acceptable to habitually hook up with numerous people and not get judged for it. One night stands and booty calls are typical during this time in your life, so embrace it. But please don’t over do it. Your reputation is still important, and so is your self-worth.

If you listen to nothing else, I hope you listen to this. Enjoy every second. Every long lecture. Every hung-over morning. Every long walk to class in the snow. Every good grade. Every bad grade. Every dining hall meal. Every tailgate. Every dinner with your best friends. There isn’t going to be another time when you’ll live in a place full of only people your age. Four years seems like a long time, but I promise when it’s almost over you’ll realize it’s just not long enough. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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