Share This

You Before College [Oh, It’s Tuesday]

Yesterday right before leaving the office (Starbucks — and no, just in case you’re wondering, that joke will never get old for me), I noticed a group of young people who looked both knowledgeable and scared. I immediately pegged them as entering freshman from a nearby college, and then remembered by own days as a scared-but-ridiculously-confident first year at Smith College’s BRIDGE program for entering students of color.

I wondered what I would have said to myself back then knowing what I do now. I’m still a bit bummed about taking part in the long skirt craze of the late 90s and rarely wearing mini-skirts in college, b/c I certainly don’t have the legs to do so now. I also would have liked to have given myself a thorough money education, so that I wouldn’t have to learn the hard way in my 20s.

One of the few first year photos I can find of myself -- since this was before digital cameras. You'll notice that I am wearing a long skirt. Aw, the 90s...

I often wonder why I didn’t experiment even more with my hair while no one was really looking and before the age of digital cameras. I wish I had taken science classes at Smith as I’m very interested in science now. In fact, having found my unexpected East Asian Languages & Literature minor so interesting, I often wish I had majored in something other than English, just to have an even more random knowledge base. Also, I ended up having to re-read many of the classics we covered at Smith in grad school — and you know how I feel about re-reading.

I might tell my younger self to appreciate learning more than I did — that it’s a privilege, not a due reward for being smart. And there are many Smithies that I like a lot now that I wish I had taken the time to get to know better when we were actually in college together.

But that’s me. What advice would you have given yourself before entering college if you knew now what you knew then?

Funnily enough, I looked up the schedule for the nearby college online before writing this and discovered that Freshman orientation had not even begun yet. Those bright-eyed-but-scared students were most likely soon-to-be high school seniors from one of their summer college programs. So they have a little more time left…