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Let me give you some unsolicited advice about college.

  1. Pick a school you like. Four-plus years is a long time, and if you get to choose where you spend them, you may as well choose a place where those years seems as short as possible. At least consider leaving the state, too. I know, I know. You’re worried about being homesick, or the financial cost of being far away or just the straight-up fear of independence. Well, let me tell you: Everybody gets a little homesick (no matter how far away they are), nobody makes it out of college with spare change in their pockets (or under their futon, or in their car. You’re going to be broke regardless, kid), and mom and dad generally stop being tolerant of co-dependent children more quickly the closer they are to home.

  2. Figure out when you have to go to class. Chances are, not every session of every class is important. Enjoy college and know when it’s OK to skip.

  3. Get a job. You’re going to want to be able to be able to do things with your friends or take that special someone out to a nice meal at the local cafe. Plus, there are things that you’re going to want that you won’t want to ask mom and dad to buy. Speaking of which …

  4. Get a tattoo. They’re badass, and you know it.

  5. Beef up your social media protection. Seriously. You don’t want people to be able to creep you and learn everything about you and your family in minutes. The stronger your protections are now, the less you need to worry when looking for jobs later.

  6. Take risks. By this I mean, don’t let yourself be defined by your past or others or who you think you need to be. Don’t draw boundaries prematurely. For example, for the past 18 months I have worked in the city newspaper’s sports department writing stories on everything from high school wrestling to college volleyball. I know very little about sports now. I knew absolutely nothing 18 months ago. You’d be amazed at what you can do if you try and have smarter friends.

  7. Get your palm read by a real psychic. You’re going to want to know how many children to start planning for.

  8. Stay up late, get up early. Go to bed early, wake up late. College is one of the few times when it’s totally OK to sleep any time of day, in any location for any reason, including just because. So please, sleep and sleep often. And mess up your sleep schedule in a flurry of reckless abandon.

  9. Remember: College is not real life; it’s basically sleep-away camp for the post-pubescent. AKA, the best and worst sleep away camp of your life. Have fun, do crafts, don’t let the other kids push you in the lake. Who knows: Maybe you’ll meet your secret identical twin while fencing and end up rooming with them. I don’t know.

  10. Finally, make good choices, and there’s a definite difference between good choices and smart choices. For example: some night your roommate or friends will want to watch “Mean Girls” at midnight the night before you have a big test, or they’ll want to go skinny-dipping in the campus pond. Do it. These choices will add richness to your college experience in the long run and enjoyment in the short run. It’s the middle part where they’ll kind of suck.

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