Untraditional College Advice for Incoming Freshman

I was a dud in college.

I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

My college was located in a city 30 minutes away from my parents’ house. I stayed on campus to get the “true college experience,” but I often went home during the weekends and even during the week to attend family events or attend my childhood church.

Given that my parents’ lived within a 30-mile radius of my college campus, I did not need to stay on-campus. I could have stayed at my parents’ house and carpooled to campus with Mom each morning since she worked a mere 10 minutes away from my college.

My church was 15 minutes away. Church kept me busy between Sunday service, mid-week service, and “College Night” on Fridays.

Being near my family, my childhood church, and in a familiar environment prevented me from going “wild.” It kept me grounded and focused on my purpose for enrolling in college, which was to make good grades and be accepted into a top graduate school program.

I’m glad I didn’t go “off the rails,” but I regret not embracing the true college experience. College is a holding place between adolescence and full-on adulthood. It’s utopia! You have the best of both worlds. You have the freedom to do what you want (eat icecream for dinner or go to a party on a school night) without any of the adult-like responsibilities (paying rent/mortgage or deciding what life insurance to purchase). You have the metabolism of a teenager, which means gaining the Freshman 15 but losing it by the second semester of your Sophomore year.

The world requires very little from you. One time, I accepted a position at the college bookstore. On the first day of work, I arrived on time, with my paperwork in hand. The manager was surprised that I even showed up. His astonishment came from the fact that none of his other new hires ever showed up to work on their first day. Apparently, college students are not expected to keep their word.

I was so focused on being a “good student,” making good grades and staying out of trouble that I lived a “fasted lifestyle.” I did not do anything that I thought my church folks, my family, or God would frown upon.

If I were given the good fortune of redoing college, I’d do it right. I’d carelessly gain the Freshman 15, go on dates, party on a Tuesday night and sleep through my 8am class, go on Miami Spring Break, and change my major multiple times.

The truth is that the Real World will be there to greet you on the other side of graduation. So, until then, why rush it? Carpe diem! The real world is not expecting anything out of you anyway.

Gain the Freshman 15.

In college, all you have to do is wake up in time to go to the cafe. It’s not always the best food you ever had, but it’s tolerable and prepaid. Eat away!

I was so hell-bent on not gaining the Freshman 15. While my friends were enjoying Fried Chicken Wednesday and all the peach cobbler they could stomach, I was trying to watch my calories and exercise. Little did I know, that 15 years later, my metabolism was going to change. I should have eaten whatever I wanted then.

Go on dates.

I took a vow of celibacy before I started college, so I was scared to have a boyfriend and break my vow. I had two guys who might have been interested in me during undergrad and I screwed up both opportunities with my shenanigans.

The first guy was my friend’s cousin. He was candy to my eyes. He was honestly the most good-looking brother I had ever seen. We exchanged numbers and I don’t know what happened. All I remember is that he never called me again. In those days, it was a sport to scare away men. And I was such a dud, I probably booted him off the phone so that I could read my Bible or pray.

The other guy was an a-okay guy I met at a bookstore. Click here to read what happened to him.

Party so hard that you sleep through your 8am class.

I went to college parties, but I kept my eye on the time. I don’t think I enjoyed the party as much as I could have because I was always so worried about missing my class. I might have been at the party in the flesh, but my mind was elsewhere.

Nowadays, as a 30-something, I don’t go to parties like I used to, but when I do, I make sure I get myself home before bedtime. It’s a practice that’s not much different than my college years. But now is when it really counts, especially for the type of work I do. I cannot go into an executive meeting with a hangover. I should have taken advantage of my college years and slept through the 8am class when the only thing at risk might have been a less-than-perfect attendance.

Go on Spring Break (not alternative spring break, but the spring break)

It wasn’t until my senior year that I went on Spring Break. It wasn’t a traditional college Spring Break in Miami either, it was a Spring Break with a religious organization in California. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad I went. But hearing all about the fun that Miami Spring Break has to offer makes me feel a little jealous.

Change your major several times.

I went to school knowing that I wanted to be a Psychology major. And I didn’t explore anything else. I regret that. I wish I took a Creative Writing class or a Political Science class. I probably would have settled on Psychology anyway, but it would have been nice to broaden my horizons.

To all of you newly oriented freshwomen and men out there, YOLO. There’s nothing on the other side of the college gates but Sallie Mae and taxes.

S&T, tell me about your college experience! If you could redo your college experience, what would you do differently? Let’s chat in the comments section below. 

6 thoughts on “Untraditional College Advice for Incoming Freshman

  1. I went… And I dropped out 6 months in. I was just tired of school, lol. People tell me all the time that I’ll regret it, but it’s been nearly a decade now and I just… Don’t.


  2. OMG! Yaa-Yaa …. I had THEE best college experience ever —- I loved college… some of my best years….lol

    I did EVERYTHING you gave in your advice column and more —- I was from Miami, so going there for Spring Break wasn’t my cup of tea — but for Memorial Day weekend… we was lit!!! lol So much so that I vowed never to go back and I haven’t.

    I went to FAMU for their Homecoming… talk about Black Culture.. my oh my. My best friend at the time was at FSU and I went to UF… the beautiful rivalry always made for good times. I took plenty of trips to Tallahassee to visit her and simultaneously hit up FAMU events.

    If you name anything, I probably did it …smh .. Home was FIVE HOURS AWAY… I was a free bird!

    What would I do differently? I’d probably see my sorority application process through to the end. I pulled out on the day of submissions.

    Sometimes, I’m grateful I didn’t pledge and other times I’m curious what it’s like on the inside of those organizations. I’ll never know.

    The best thing about my college experience — not a single student loan! Got a full-ride scholarship… oh and the study abroad trip I took my senior year.

    What inspired you to write this post?


    • Haha, that’s great! You really lived it up in college. It’s awesome that you didn’t have student loan debt. Congrats! Happy for you.

      I also went to an HBCU. I went to Spelman. What inspired me to write this post? My little cousin started her journey at TSU, which triggered my reflecting on my journey through college and here’s the advice I would share. Live it up because it is definitely the most free you will ever be. I know there will be other great times in life, but none compare to college

      Liked by 1 person

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