A Letter to a College Freshman

Take your time. You’ve probably been in a rush to get here but don’t be in a rush to leave. Ask all the difficult questions. Take some time to figure out who you are. Don’t rush any decision. Take your time.

Don’t be afraid of failure, be afraid of not trying. I don’t mean, “Fail your classes…” I mean, don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t be afraid to take a different approach. Don’t be afraid to ask your professor what they mean. Don’t be afraid to ask that girl, or that guy, out. Don’t be afraid—you got this.

There’s no template for life. You sometimes have to make your own rubric for how you will measure if this was or is a success. There are very few multiple choice or fill in the blank quizzes in life. Just a lot of essay questions. Embrace critical thinking and the challenge to do more.

Don’t settle for less than excellence. If you feel you’re less than, ask why. Figure out how you can objectively get better each day at whatever you’re not good at. Ask for help. Don’t be ashamed of asking for help.

Help someone else. Spend a lot of time helping other people. Ask them a lot of questions about how they grew up. Gain perspective outside the world you grew up in. An easy way to start a conversation is to ask for one high and one low of their week. Go from there. But the best way to start a conversation is by holding a door open, grabbing a bag, and lending a hand. Jesus said when someone asks you to walk one mile, walk two with them instead. Don’t wait for them to ask, just help them freely. Be thoughtful.

Be kind with your words and generous with your time. You only get to leave this world with one impression of who you are. I hope no one ever says of you, “That girl was hurried. That girl never took time to speak with me.”

Take time to be still. Journal your feelings. Journal your prayers. Ask God for big things. Find a mentor. Find a counselor. Ask everyone their opinion before a big decision.

My job as a professor isn’t just to answer your questions, it’s to ask you bigger questions. It’s to make you question yourself. “Do I want to do this with my life?”

Finally, take notes. Real notes with hand and paper. It feels good. It connects to your brain better. You have the rest of your life to be digital.

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