Straight Talk Advice

May 31, 2006

More on the adventures of going to college

Dear Readers: Last week high school graduates on the teen staff commented on a letter from “D.K” who was unsure about whether or not he should go to college this fall and whether he should split with his girlfriend if he does. Here are more comments from the teen staff:

From Farren, 18: When I graduated from high school I didn’t want to go to college either. I wanted to stay at home and relax a while. But I knew my parents would disagree so I reluctantly packed my bags and headed off. I can’t tell you how much I hated it at first—honestly, I wanted to die. I missed my parents, my cat, and my boyfriend. I had no idea what I wanted to do or why I had even chosen this college.

It ended up being the best thing I ever did for myself. Sure, traveling would’ve been nice, but in college you will meet friends that will stick with you the rest of your life. The longer college breaks definitely make a difference. Plus you choose you own schedule and can arrange it so you don’t have class every day. You will be living away from home, you will have freedom. That in itself is worth it. Of course with the freedom, you will have fun.

By fun, I don’t mean using college as an excuse to binge on alcohol and drugs. You see quite a few teenagers with this attitude who eventually become hooked and stop being responsible. Smoking and drinking in the dorms not only can put you on probation with the college, but if you get kicked out of housing you’re still responsible for the housing fees.

I’d advise D.K. to take a break this summer knowing he will have many more breaks during college. Also, I’d tell him not to stress if he doesn’t know what he wants to study. Some people change their major as many as twenty times. About whether to break up with his girlfriend, I had the same four-hour separation with my boyfriend but we decided to stick together. It was hard at first because we were used to spending every minute together. The best I can say to D.K. is this: if you want to stay with your girlfriend, make it work. If you don’t, break it off. Or try it out knowing that if you have to break it off later it’s not the end of the world.

From Peter, 19: I was very keen on taking a break after high school and getting a job, but there was a scholarship I could only receive if I went to college full-time for one semester. So, I enrolled in community college. However, I didn’t just enroll in the minimum 12 units. I thought community college would be easier, so I enrolled in 18 units. That was a very big mistake. Just because it’s community college doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Whether you go to college or not, graduating from high school leads to a lot of unexpected situations. Nothing turns out like you expect. For example, I didn’t think I’d find a good-paying job that I liked and be able to move into my own place. On the other hand, I’m not in Spain right now either!

As an adult I’m more careful about what I do since I’m dealing with more people and situations than in high school. Drugs should be avoided at all costs. Alcohol is a pretty “collegiate” substance, but you have to be safe about it. Relationships are entirely different than in high school. Suddenly, the people around you are more mature—and maybe even more appealing to one’s taste. I personally wouldn’t break up with someone just because of college, but be prepared to accept that it might happen.


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