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Advice for the soon-to-be college student

Reading Between the Pines
By Stacie Chadwick

As parents, we spend decades preaching and teaching. “Be a good person. Make good choices. Do good things.” Now it’s your turn to manage our messages and figure out what moves your needle even a fraction off-center. Find, embrace, and act on the things that matter most to you.

Be humble. Just about everyone at college knows more than you do about something. Accept that you have a lot to learn and embrace the boundless opportunities to expand your mind.

Be curious. Not only are questions the fastest way to get an answer, they show you care. “How are you?” and “What do you think?” are good places to start.

Don’t judge. If you can master this concept before you leave school, you’ll be light years ahead of your peers. And your parents. Okay, maybe not your parents but definitely some of your parents’ friends.

Have a lot of fun. Does life get better than college? Yes, but with caveats and constraints you can’t yet understand.

Take risks. The only way to see the nighttime beauty of fireflies flitting through the trees is to walk through a dark forest.

Don’t spend so much time honing your social life that you ultimately find yourself permanently parked in our basement. Coming home on your terms is a lot more rewarding than coming home on ours.

Persist. In life, a little bit of bad almost always accompanies any amount of good.

When friendships haven’t gelled yet and schoolwork is tougher than you thought, accept that you’re going to be a little homesick. We miss you too. More than you know.

Connect with the not-so-obvious. Befriend someone who seems different. Take a class that doesn’t count toward your major. Visit unfamiliar places.

Being a teenager is about finding your tribe. Becoming an adult is about finding your voice.

It’s easy to move with the current, but swimming upstream, though harder, yields far more reward. Think twice about taking the easy way out because nothing replaces hard work.

Be still. If you can get comfortable with a little loneliness, some of your biggest moments will rest on the shoulders of solitude.

Mistakes are inevitable so don’t run from them. Learn from them instead.

Talk less and listen more – to professors, upperclassmen, people who share your opinions, and more importantly, to people who don’t. Listen with your head. Listen with your heart. Just listen.

Be purposeful because it’s not what you say, it’s what you do that matters.

Go to college determined to make the world a better place. If you do, you’ll have succeeded far beyond any other measure.

To read more from Stacie, check out her blog at



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