The following are 11 pieces of crucial advice for incoming college freshmen, and in some cases, struggling upperclassmen. I could have written well over 100 things, as thoughts poured into my mind when I was writing this. I was going to write 5 things; that turned into 10, then I pulled the plug at 11. I convey the following as a person who has made lots of these mistakes – a bouncer and a major league raging partier. But I also write this as a success story, at least to the extent I graduated with 3.43 GPA, while parting my tail off at the University of Kansas. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Here are some do’s and don’ts regarding entry to college (being a freshman). It’s an exciting time, but it can also be a period of vast temptation, a field of landmines that can maim your teen’s future. Although I am likely missing some big ones (the list could continue in perpetuity), these are a good start. Let me know what you think in the comments!

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Whatever you do, whatever you do… Please don’t get too involved with the party scene. I am not saying don’t ever go out and I am not trying to curtail your college experience. Go out once in a while and cut loose, just don’t drive – and keep an eye on your beverage, ladies. However, from my experience at one of the nation’s top party schools and as a bouncer, I know bad things will inevitably happen to you if you constantly party heavily. It’s an endless well in which to toss your limited supply of money with negative ROI. You will always have people around you as long as you have money and a drink in your hand, but the minute you need emotional support, they will not be there for you. They won’t have the capacity to help you with your problem(s) anyway. Also, there are some absolutely terrible people who can and want to ruin your life who slide throughout the club scene like snakes. I have seen girls get with these bastards and end up being dropout crack addicts—dead serious. And these girls had everything in the world going for them. So smart, but they were impressionable and manipulated by some bad older dudes from the scene. It’s the hard drugs and ridiculously heavy drinking you will want to avoid. I have so many terrifying stories. Another book?

Don’t be reckless with another person’s heart. You don’t want to hurt people. Period. It’s not good for business, karma, or whatever you want to call it. Don’t cheat on a significant other and have self-respect

Avoid politics. Professors are going to have a strong political agenda, you can expect that. Politics is inherently divisive, and the way universities and departments therein are financed, exchange money, and do business is much different than in the private sector. Get Rich Dad Poor Dad. It’s a must read – the best selling personal finance book of all time!! Robert Kiyosaki explains all that better than I can—read about how the two dads (one a businessman, the other an academic) thought differently. Then you will understand why it’s best to just stay out of it and under the radar. How does it help you anyway? Journalism majors, be totally independent, free from innuendo. Your integrity is important, so don’t compromise it for anyone or cause.

Study something you love and can quickly leverage (your degree) to make money. In college, with the student loans and everything, it’s kind of like you’re under an umbrella. Everything’s paid for. Once you’re on your own, you are going to want to have some walking around money (what’s movie is that from?). With loans to pay off, a house payment, etc., you will want to get a good job. So, I’m not saying philosophy is bad but…. You might be limited.

This is a biggie. Get an internship with a reputable company while you’re in college that’s in the exact field you will be someday working. Juice that sucker for all it’s worth, as the experience and references you’ll gain are worth a lot when it comes time to negotiate your salary in the future.

Eat right. The freshman 15 is totally real. Eat healthy or you will get a big fat tum-tum. It happened to me for about a month, but then I saw how bad I looked, thought about how much I was spending eating out, and ended that in a hurry. I went from the lunch room to the weight room. But seriously, you need proper nutrition. Plus, your mother will feel better.

Study hard. College can be such a great time to learn and become an expert in your field. Try to enjoy it. Homework doesn’t have to be a downer unless you choose to perceive it that way. I know lots will be going on but try to be in the moment and take in all the knowledge you can. You came to be the best, so learn your subject better than anyone else. If you’re going to swing the bat, swing it hard.

Develop as much confidence as possible. A person can have a ton of confidence and still be likeable. Don’t believe otherwise. You’re investing in yourself, so treat your name like a brand. Protect its reputation. And don’t use self-deprecating humor too much. You might say something jokingly stupid about yourself and develop an undesired nickname that sticks like a tattoo on your forehead. You need to be confident, exercise professionalism (when appropriate), and understand you can do whatever you want if you work hard enough and believe in yourself at all times. Go get it and be optimistic!

Be careful of “friends” who try to get way too close too quickly, like before you even get a chance to know them. First off, it’s freaking weird, but we’ll let that pass. Second, this is often a maneuver through which to guilt or manipulate you into a typically long-lasting, toxic, one-way friendship. My reason for using the word toxic is intentional, as these people are frequently very negative. I have never had a good experience with one these downers. Don’t exert lots of energy into a friendship you feel you have to have, but don’t truly want in your life. You don’t have to have anyone. There’s you heads up!

With confidence you will naturally be a leader, so you’re going to need to establish firm guidelines with respect to household rules with your roomies. This is a way to set expectations while earning their buy in. Ask for your roomies’ opinions and implement their ideas and suggestions into the rules, too. You are going to need time to sleep and study (S&S), so if having people over for drinks on the weekend is your thing, make sure you set pre-established boundaries for during the school/work week. This helps you all be your best. I have seen so many friendships ruined by rooming together. Get ahead of any potential conflict.

Workout 5 times per week. I suggest you look up a workout different workout routine to use for each day that hits different muscles. That way you leave time to let your body heal. Refer back to rule 6 but add more lean protein. You deserve results. Always use a physician’s guidance.

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