Sydney Scott, a freshman at Southeastern Louisiana University, continues her series on her life and times as a college student. View college life through her eyes and learn alongside her as she journeys to her future career. Share with the students in your life - this post is great for everyone.
Graduation season is upon us. And if you’re a part of the Class of 2019, allow me to say: CONGRATULATIONS!
High school can be a frustrating, confusing time: you’re in that weird limbo in which you aren’t really an *adult,* but you also have to do grown-up things. It’s probably the only time in your life where you might have to remember to call and reschedule your oil change because you have a conflicting soccer practice (unless that is, you are going pro, then you should be prepared to have conflicting soccer practices all the time).
My high school graduation was incredibly symbolic of this limbo between childhood and adulthood: I clearly remember being shushed as we were being lined up alphabetically in the hallway before we walked across the stage. It seemed like such an elementary task on the day that was supposed to be celebrating our entry into the “real” world.
What I realized in the subsequent months was that this limbo extends beyond past graduation and continues waaay into college. Furthermore, there are some things you realize you should/shouldn’t have done during this time period as you transition to college, most of which no one ever tells you about.
But have no fear, dear reader, I am here to give you advice so you can live this summer in “limbo” to the fullest, and be prepared for what is next! I present to you: advice no one gave me when I was graduating high school!
Hang out with your best friends EVERY day.
I’m not exaggerating here. Hang out with your friends every day that you can between now and college. Once school starts, everyone’s schedules will be different and it’ll be hard to make time for each other. I even have a hard time planning to hang out with friends that go to the same university as I do. One of my very best friends goes to school out of state and it’s still weird only seeing her once every couple of months. This summer, hang out with everyone as much as you can.
Talk to your parents while you still have the time (and let your mom do your laundry).
For some reason, after high school, everyone immediately grows closer to their parents. Some may say it’s absence that makes the heart grow fonder, and others chalk it up to the fact that your parents no longer have to worry about getting you through high school, and thus they seem a little more chilled out. Either way -- spend time with your parents, and let your mom do your laundry, especially if you are planning on moving away for college. This is your last chance that you really have time to hang out with them before life happens and things get busy.
Don’t spend your time at an awful job.
In high school, and especially after you graduate, you’re usually encouraged at some point to get a job for a myriad of reasons. While everyone talks about the good parts of having a job (you grow more responsible and earn some spare $), no one ever talks about what to do if you end up somewhere you hate!
For the most part, I was always privileged to have jobs I really enjoyed, but I get that that is not a reality for most kids in high school and college. With that being said: you don’t have to work somewhere you hate! I saw (and continue to see) too many of my friends get stuck in a rut working a job they hated. Hopefully, with college in mind, you are on the right track towards having a career someday you will actually like. But now is not the time to hate working. You have the rest of your life to work! Sure, what’s available isn’t usually going to be some glamorous, well-respected position, but there are certainly places where being a waitress or a sales associate is better than others. What I’m getting at is: be realistic, but don’t waste time and energy somewhere that makes you miserable!
Eat good food and learn how to cook.
This is a two-for-one piece of advice: enjoy the meals your mom or dad makes and then learn how to cook them. Soon, you’ll have to remember to buy groceries (arguably one of the worst parts of growing up). And if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself walking aimlessly throughout the aisles thinking “I can’t just make scrambled eggs for lunch 7 days a week. Or can I...” You’ll throw in the towel, march yourself up to the frozen meals aisle, and stock up on TV dinners… but this gets old, fast.
At some point, you’re gonna need to learn how to cook something. My favorite place to find inspiration for new dishes is Bon Appetit magazine, which conveniently has the best YouTube channel ever. My most recent favorite recipe I tried was Carla’s egg souffle, which is not as scary but *just* as fancy as it sounds.
Aside from the fact that you will fall in love with every one of the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen chefs (I am personally #TeamCarla), their recipes are weirdly simple, and they do an incredible job of dumbing-down fancy dishes for people (like me) who aren’t sure what constitutes pasta as “al dente” (I do know now, though, thanks, Carla!).
Get comfy doing things by yourself.
As much as an independent person as I pride myself as being, becoming comfortable with doing things alone was something that I did not expect to make me so… uncomfortable. You’re thinking Oh, this one is easy!, right? Wait until you have to book your own dentist appointment *shudder, * or go to the doctor by yourself for the first time.
The summer before college, you will, at some point, be faced with having to do something that is completely alien to you. These tasks may seem scary (how on earth do I navigate the textbook rental system by myself?), and most of the time, it takes some trial and error to figure out. While trying to find the bathroom for the first time in a four-story lecture hall might sound confusing (-- and why aren’t “bathroom maps” at universities already a thing?!), it truly is not so bad. Start doing things by yourself. Get comfortable doing things that make you uncomfortable.
Save some dang money.
Repeat after me: I will not spend every paycheck on take-out, ubers, and $10 shirts.
Good! Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you something about money: you don’t make a ton of it in college. If you had a job in high school, you are probably already somewhat familiar with this too-common dilemma. What you haven’t come face to face with, though, is how easy it is to blow a paycheck when you’re in college. Eating Chick-fil-a for lunch every day on campus, going out with friends, and all those coffee shop “study” meet-ups will add up QUICK!
Last year, I found myself in that same situation: spend → earn → spend. It’s all fun and games until someone invites you on a trip, or you need a spare $100 for something unexpected, and then you're left either having to say no to something cool or having to beg your parents for money. Not cool. This year, I committed to starting to contribute a fixed amount each month to my savings account. My only two rules are: I can go over the amount, but not under (I made sure this was a completely do-able amount for me so I couldn’t back out of it), and under no circumstances can I use the money I’m putting in my savings until I graduate. One app that helped me start saving is Fudget, which kind of works in the same as a checkbook does and lets you keep track of what is going in and out of different accounts. Plus, you can create goals, if you have something you are specifically saving for.
Of course, you don’t have to be as strict with your savings as I am, but even just setting aside $50 every couple of paychecks helps immensely when the need for that money arrives (and let me tell you, that need happens at the weirdest, most inconvenient times). Start saving just a *little* bit now so you don’t fall into the habit of overspending once you start college. Oh -- and don’t take out a bunch of credit cards.
With all that being said, remember that this is a period of growth, and growing will come with all the mixed feelings. You’re basically living out that Taylor Swift song right now… you know, the one where she talks about being “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time”?
Most importantly -- go easy on yourself during the transition to college. You will inevitably face learning curves, but I am here to tell you that you will survive! Being hard on yourself is just going to keep you from being able to make good memories you can look back on. So: go on, expect great things, and be open to all the new possibilities that are waiting for you!