You don’t know how badly I want to tell you everything I learned in college.
I want to tell you what to do on your first day, how to study, who to talk to, and what to take. I want to tell you that transferring isn’t as bad as you think, that commuting won’t ruin your social life, and that you’ll eventually be glad your roommate wasn’t the best friend you never had.
I want to tell you way more than I should.
It’s instinctive. I was a college student. I worked with college students. I tutored and mentored college students. I care about what will be the best four (five? six?) years of your life until the next four.
Because of that, I need to give you the best advice I can: stop looking for it.
Ignore people like me, or at least don’t seek us out just yet. This is your time and if you go into it already knowing everything, you’ll be left wondering what it would have been like to do it all differently. You’ll regret that you never tried to figure it out on your own.
Knowledge without learning only torments. It blocks you from trying what doesn’t fit, yet never actually teaches you why it was right in the end (and believe me, it is. That guy on College Confidential telling you your high school relationship won’t last is correct, but go for it, anyway). Reduced are the experiences you are supposed to have, and amplified are the doubts about what it is you are doing.
By no means am I advocating stupidity. Don’t block out help. Don’t do things that jeopardize your future. Don’t do things that harm others. That’s not the point. I’m just asking you to learn, and that won’t come from following a planned-out course prescribed by the Internet.
Discover by doing. Make mistakes in an environment that allows for them; you’ll realize the biggest mistakes was not doing so afterward. Try things, even if people like me would tell you not to, while the opportunities are there. Get social failures, academic disasters, and judgment lapses out of your system by the time they have to be.
Be safe, be respectful, be mature. But be open, be adventurous, be spontaneous.
And don’t be online looking for people like me, with all that we want to tell you we’ve learned.
You will gain independence in your studies at college, so pursue the same personally. Your professors are there to help, but not until you make your own effort. The same applies in your experiences: try things until you realize you could use some guidance, then don’t hesitate to find it.
Right now is not that time. You’ll know when, mostly because you’re going to learn that. Not from me. Not from the people you know.
No, from yourself, as you craft your own experience that will differ from any before it, that none of us could simulate, and that all of us could ruin with our own advice. It’s best to withhold it and let you make the discoveries.
You don’t know how badly you’ll want to tell everyone when you do.