Dear (Younger) Lawrence,

This is one of many letters I’m going to write to my high school self. This is a letter I wish I had gotten in the mail as I started my summer leading up to college. This is a letter I’m writing in hopes of helping someone else transition from being tucked under the protective wing of their parents to being thrown out into the vastness that this world is.

High school doesn’t prepare you for college. As much as people might say that it does, I’m going to tell you from personal experience that it doesn’t.


1. Academically,

you won’t find the courses to be necessarily harder or more work; the issue is how the points are distributed. For the most part, you had daily homework assignments that allowed you to practice the material and get rewarded with a small number of points. Throw the premonition that it’s going to be same in college away. Grades are dominated by huge chunks of points that are distributed to midterms and finals. Homework credit is sometimes a moot point and might make or break your grade, but they certainly don’t have a significant impact.

I suggest that you start getting in the habit of doing readings now before it’s too late. Without daily or even weekly homework “checkpoints” to keep you in line, you can always say, “I’ll do it tomorrow” all the way until you have an exam the next morning and you drown in despair.

Oh yeah, your professors don’t care about you at all unless you go out of your way and befriend them. Assume that they don’t really give a shit whether or not you’re struggling in class or are having a rough time at home, so a lot of it is your responsibility to stay caught up. Go to tutoring sessions and use your extension requests wisely.

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2. Personally,

you’re on your own. You can stay up as late as you want, get up as early as you want. You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want and however you want. High school often forced me to skip breakfast and sometimes even lunch in exchange for more sleep and time to do homework, respectively. But that also means nobody’s telling you when to go to bed, banging at your door at 7:00 am telling you to get your ass up or buying you snacks.

Snacks are expensive.

Please, for the love of myself, get a bedtime and morning routine going far in advance. When week one hits, you have full control over that snooze button and you will abuse it. And you’ll continue to abuse it until the crisis sets in that you’re still acting like a lazy high school student on vacation. What sucks is that you’ll inevitably wake up (and piss off) your roommate if you try something like putting your phone underneath your bed.

Also, remember that you’re never going to get the freshman fifteen, you’re going to gain the freshman fifteen. By that, I mean that if you honestly put in just a tiny bit of effort every day at the gym, you’re going to see results body-wise. And with that comes a huge confidence boost and less of a struggle to pick up that backpack with all of your textbooks in it. Not saying that I ever did.


3. One thing that’s great about college is that if you choose not to care, you don’t have to.

Those pesky friends you were forced into hanging out with because you had mutual friends or the assholes that constantly gave you trouble in class — you don’t have to see them.The university environment allows you to thrive because there are so many new people around you. Since you’re probably used to a class size of roughly 150 people, you’re going to enjoy being able to pick and choose the relationships that you find most valuable.

However, that means you’ll have to make that awkward first step a lot, going through the same annoying “what’s your major/what year are you/what do you want to do later in life/what do you do for fun/etc.” over and over again, so be prepared to answer all of those about a billion times before you find your best friends.

Also, just do it. You’re going to miss out on a lot of opportunities to talk to that really cute girl, make friends with a professor, or even becoming an acquaintance with someone else just because you over think things way too much. What’s the worst that can happen? The worst thing that could happen is that person not being your friend, and that’s more of a loss for them than it is for you. In the words of your future brother Sean Simpson, “Say yes to everything.”

Don’t miss out on life’s opportunities, either.

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4. Get used to buying generic versions of everything —

they’ll save you so much money in the long run. Don’t worry about getting nice paper towels or plastic spoons (who the hell cares?), they all work the same anyways. I bring this up because, funny enough, trying to impress people with expensive stuff stops having an impact after high school. Wal-Mart is going to be your best friend soon enough.

The dollars and cents that the brand names markup on essentially identical items can really rack up when you go grocery shopping a couple of times a month.

But, that doesn’t mean skimping on things. A good quality item could last you for several years, and when you’re buying things that you might plan on using for a prolonged period of time, then it’s better to dish out more money. You don’t wanna be making shopping runs for the same thing over and over when you could have easily bought a better version of.

That being said, there’s not a lot that you can do to prepare yourself from the train barreling towards you that is your freshman year. There’s going to be a lot of getting sick, emotional wrecks and amazing times that a letter wouldn’t do justice to. As scrambled as my life got in my first year, I honestly learned an incredible amount from the hardships I struggled through.

All I have to say is keep your mind open and mouth shut. Let the world run its course and remember to live in the moment.

Sincerely,

-LQH