Welcome to college!
You showed up on campus on a hot summer day with your parents and a minivan full of your effects. Packed neatly was your favorite blanket, pillow, clothes, the collage of pictures from your senior year, and poster of Justin Beiber (JK) rolled tightly into a handy cylinder just waiting to be unrolled and put on your wall. You’re full of energy. You’re mostly nervous, a little excited, and you couldn’t wait to get this thing going! After all, you busted your ass to get here!
If you didn’t notice, your parents were jacked up too. When I met your parents, your mom was super anxious and your dad was the proudest papa ever. I totally get where they are coming from…as a parent I can’t wait to drop my kids off at college and my wife is already anxious about it. My kids are 2 and 4 years old.
What happened when your parents pulled away and you were left to your own devices is what has changed the most since I was a freshman (only 14 years ago). Instead of a weekend to unpack and a few days to get to know your new friends before class begins, you discover that the school has your free-time already booked. You’re important now! There is no time to think. No time to waste. Orientation has begun. Welcome to college!
And if you thought you would have to come up with your own schedule after orientation. Fear not! You’re booked until graduation! The system is in place for you to be busier than a bee until you leave. You have a million clubs to join, sports to play, sports to watch, Greek life, field trips, special speaker series, study abroad, comedians, concerts, campus ministry(let’s make that priority #1, okay?), and of course the very reason you are at college in the first place: school. And just so you know, your professors are famous, your classmates are brilliant, and all of them will be famous one day too…so you better study if you want to keep up. But no pressure, though. College is awesome!!!
This. This is college today. And it’s all a perfected production brought to you by the lovely institution that bares its name on your new sweatshirt. And it’s for you, so that college will be the best part of your life. Ever.
But let me offer you one piece of advice that saved me 14 years ago: Find quiet.
In the midst of the great chaos and pressure, find a place where you can just sit and be. For me, that place was the southwest corner on the 4th floor of the library, where I would sit and deeply gaze out of the huge windows that overlooked campus. It’s where my busy world was hushed. And in that quiet space, my spirit, body and mind got to know each other.
I hope you find quiet.
Welcome to college!
Washington University in St. Louis