Letting Go of a College Freshman
The Shi household seems rather vacant these days. Last week we took our
older child to North Carolina to begin his freshman year in college.
we left Greenville, I realized that the process of moving in the dorm
room and greeting roommates and their families would be so chaotic that
some important things would not get said. So I wrote a "fatherly," Fred
MacMurray-type letter in advance, which I left on our sons dormitory
bed. It read in part:
Please tolerate one last
paternal sermon. In other words, keep readingand dont let the cliches
you are about to encounter get you down.
As you begin the greatest adventure in your life, you need to know several things. The most important is this: We are very proud of you as you start your college career.
be sure, it is terribly hard for us to let you go, but it is time for
you to be on your ownand you are ready. Perhaps the most important
thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without
them. What you are, what you do, and thereby what you become depends on
what you believe about yourself. In this regard Mom and I have great
confidence in you, and that gives us considerable comfort as we head
back to Greenville. You have the ability, commitment, and common sense
to excel in your schoolwork--and your life.
You will soon
discover that college is not simply a high school with higher standards.
It is an entirely new way of aexercising your mind, and, of course, an
entirely new way of living and dealing with peopleincluding yourself.
today you are as free as you will likely ever be again. You will be
able to think, do, and act as you please. No one will tell you to go to
bed or to get up, to make your bed or do your homework. How you handle
your new freedom is likely to affect you for the rest of your life.
will discover, for instance, that intelligent young people do not
always behave in intelligent ways. Indeed, the most common mistake that
freshmen make is to become intoxicated by their new freedom. Caught up
in the festive distractions and temptations of college life, they
quickly get behind in their schoolwork, and, before they know it, they
are in a deep hole.
So by all means get off to a good start. Set
aside study time each dayand when you studyreally concentrate.
(remember what I used to say about hitting a baseball during your Little
League days: FOCUS!)
Although you have worked hard to prepare
yourself for the experience of college, you are not totally ready--no
one is. You will be confronted with many new ideas, exciting activities,
interesting people, and tough choices.
College is great fun but
it is not painless. You will have some discouraging times. Although
surrounded by people, you will experience bouts of loneliness. And you
will encounter roommate problems, academic problems, and financial
problems. Learning to deal with such problems is the mark of an educated
and mature person.
Be smartand think twice before you make
decisions or do things. Mom and I want you to be bold in what you stand
for and careful in what you fall for. In other words, hold onto the
values you have developed and dont get sucked into the "anything goes"
culture of campus life. Character is much easier kept than recovered.
"Always do right," as Mark Twain suggested. "This will gratify some
people and astonish the rest."
If you make your selections
wisely, if you realize early on that your self-esteem does not depend on
how much you drink or smoke or party late into the night, if you
realize the benefits of not majoring in minor things, then you will
thrive in your new setting.
Enough of my lecturing. Suffice it to
say that God adores freshmen. So go forth and prosper. We love
youevery minute of the day. Although we will be separated by many
miles, you will never be far from our thoughts.
P. S. If you have any extra spending money, please send it home.