For those of you sending your children off to college, I have a small bit of advice. Go through your kids’ wardrobe. If he’s a boy, toss out the tee-shirts old enough to have been worn in 1972. Put any clothes that are threadbare, torn, ripped, or in any kind of disrepair in a black plastic trash bag and dump the cat’s litterbox on top. (Don’t forget the filthy, torn up, falling apart hats.) Explain to him that you don’t care about style, college is designed to prepare him for entry into the real world; he can dress like a vagrant when he is actually homeless.
For your daughters, it seems that almost every day here is “dress like a whore day.” If a piece of clothing is something she would wear in a nightclub, she doesn’t need it in college. Also, universities are not the happy husband hunting ground; if that’s her goal, you could get a better return on your investment selling her as a mail-order bride than paying > $40K for 10 semesters of college. Explain to her that you don’t care about the style, college is designed to prepare her for entry into the real world, and she can dress like a strumpet when she’s trying to get promoted in corporate America.
If either kid plans on taking a gaming console, smash it with a sledge hammer. They will spend countless hours playing x-box when they should be, you know, studying. They will of course get blasted on the weekend (and sometimes during the week) (hey, it is college). They will likely engage in other activities that are contrary to the way you raised them. College is a time for them to make their own mistakes; you can only hope to set them up for success before they go. Be sure to remind them that after graduation, they have a month to get their crap out of your house.
Be sure to “pop in” for the random visit/inspection. Early Sunday or Saturday morning is a great time. Be sure to arrive unannounced, and if your baby is hung over, half-naked, or still drunk, make sure to hand them a bill for their “share” of the tuition. What the hell, if you’re willing to foot the bill for their four-year bender you might as well send Patti Bader (www.soldiersangels.org) the money, she’ll put it to much better use.
Am I being hypocritical? Was I straight-laced, clean-nosed, and did I walk the straight and narrow path through my four years of college? Hell no! I partied my butt off. I was drunk at least three nights a week, every week. I was footing the bill myself, thanks to the GI Bill and Army college fund. Later, I received a full scholarship from ROTC, so a portion of my GI Bill that didn’t go for room and board went to the local bars and beer distributors. As I look back on it, I had blast in college. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it was an experience that truly helped me develop as a person. If, however, I could go back, I think I’d have spent just a bit more time cracking the books instead of clinking the glasses. My GPA would’ve appreciated it, that’s for sure.
I had something most of my peers didn’t have, something I also got in return for my early experience in the Army. Discipline. I went to most classes; I managed to put some things aside in order to do the required work and assignments. I could’ve put more effort into what was required, but hey, it was college.
I’m digressing. Keys to success for those sending kids to college…
Boys: dress like an adult, go to class, no game console, party like a rock star after you finish your work, and not so long that you don’t make it to your next day’s classes.
Girls: you won’t find true love, happiness, or success on your back. You have to wait until you’re in corporate America to get ahead that way. You can’t handle your booze any better than the boys, and if you think they’ll “do the right thing” if they knock you up, you’re sadly mistaken. (Would you want them to? Most can’t even dress themselves properly without parental intervention.)
Finally, mom and dad, if your precious wants to join a fraternity/sorority, good on them. Let them get a job to pay for any and all expenses that go along with their purchase of their new “friends.” If they think greek life is about anything more than that, ask them to tell their friends that “they really enjoy all the other things that greek life offers, but they can’t afford to pay their dues, but they can still be friends and hang out, right?” See how welcome they are then.