Dear Jack: 12 Reminders as You Leave for College

Dear Jack,

I am supposed to write you a very heartfelt, and dramatic going away to college letter. I am supposed to place it under your dorm room pillow for you to find. Yes, one of the too many pillows I put on your bed as you rolled your eyes and insisted you only need one, but then later – probably as you are reading this propped up said to yourself  “daaaaamn my mom was right again. I DO need this extra pillow.”

Words of advice from a mom as her son leaves for college

This letter is a requirement to earn my Mom Badge (which is like the Eagle Scout thing, only our big project is to make a human who is prepared to be a productive member of society) ….but the challenge is that I don’t see this day as an ending. I see this as a beginning.

[More on why you should write a letter to your college freshman here.]

This is YOUR beginning. So for once in my life, I am having a hard time being dramatic.

As a little girl I dreamed about the children I would have some day (I also dreamed about living on a llama farm, and being a famous talk-show host but hey – two outta three dude)….and I dreamed about creating a happy home and having happy kids. And all my dreams (except those other too, but I am dealing) came true.

And you leaving to attend your first pick college feels like my Emmy. Or Oscar. Or Grammy (let’s face it. I am an EGOT winner at this point)….because Jack you have FAR surpassed what any parent could ever want in a kid.  I hit the (wait for it) …………..JACKpot getting to raise you.

So here is my cliff-notes version of advice. You have heard it all before. But consider this a study guide.

12 Heartfelt Reminders as My Son Leaves for College 

1. Think big, and love hard. And while you are at it Think Hard and Love Big too.

2. Give 110% or not at all. Anything less is lame. Don’t be lame.

[More on advice to college freshmen from recent grads here.]

3. Life is short, so try everything (within the realm of legal).

4. Do things that embarrass you. Like force yourself

5. Being nice to nice people is easy. Being nice to assholes is saintly. Be saintly. When that fails – walk away. It confuses them.

6. If you have a problem, solve a problem. Breath first. Then think thru how you can fix it or improve the outcome. When that fails, call me.

7. Own your screw-ups. Apologizing is the mark of a real man.

8. Embrace failure. It is one step on the road to success. Try to fail daily.

9. Women are confusing. Just wing it. No other way.

10. Just because you can – doesn’t mean you should. This pertains to women, alcohol, wearing the same clothes for a week etc…. I think you get the picture.

11. Be on time for everything. Do not flake or cancel plans with people at last-minute. Be reliable. Reliability is one of the most attractive qualities in a human and an employee.

12. Life is comedy. Look for the funny in everything and you will always find joy.

And as I used to tell you at elementary school drop off “Don’t come home stupid” (you can decide where the comma goes) which of course means COME HOME. I will always be here waiting for you with a pie in the oven. Okay that is hilarious…what I meant was, I will always be here ready to order take-out and my time to share with you. Like ALWAYS.

Some Practical Stuff:

Lastly (really)

You have your entire family behind you (and a bunch of random strangers on the internet, which I would like to thank you for allowing me to essentially recreate the Truman Show and share you with them for all these years. You are great content)…and we are ALL excited for you and can’t wait to see how much fun you are going to have.

Jack meet world. World meet Jack. You two are going to get along great.



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