Advice for my College-Bound Nephew

So, my sweet nephew who called me “Etah” when he was a baby because he couldn’t say “Erika,” is graduating and going to college in the fall. We mostly communicate via Facebook and Scramble With Friends (he usually wins).

I remember when he was a baby — I literally remember seeing him the day he was born. (I also remember how much pain my sister was in after her schedule c-section because he was breech. I think that influenced me to not want a c-section when I was pregnant with Animal and Mineral. Also, I was young and there was no Facebook — none of my peers from high school had had babies yet, nor were they talking about how great their sections were. Things have changed since then!)

Feeding either Animal or Mineral -- they were a month old; he was nine.

I’m so excited for him. (Also for my cousin, who has to make a decision between Harvard, Yale and Duke! He’s another one who obviously got the genes from the other side of the pool.)

So here’s my advice for my college-bound nephew. He probably won’t take it, but that’s okay because (1) I’m going to give it anyway and (2) if I were 18, I probably wouldn’t take it either. But I’m 32 and I wish I had!

  • Get out of your comfort zone. There are so many opportunities to do this. Take a class in something that sounds fun and has nothing to do with what you want to be when you grow up. Say yes to invitations to see things and do things you haven’t done before. Eat at a vegan restaurant. (It might not suck, and you can always get a hamburger afterwards.)
  • If you like the class, hate the class, are doing really well or really poor in the class, go to office hours. If you like the class, it will give you an opportunity to learn more. If you hate the class, it will give the opportunity to maybe hate it slightly less. If you’re doing poorly, the professor may take pity on you if he knows you. I had to take Statistics while I was at Michigan. I went to office hours every week. I got a D+. It was a kindness!
  • Do not ignore the city in which you’re living. Most college cities are pretty cool, even outside the campus. There’s often a lot to do: museums, science centers, concerts, conferences, independent stores. I lived in Ann Arbor for several years after college, and it was fantastic. When I felt sad about leaving my Jugs in Charlotte, I reminded myself of all the cool things to do in Raleigh, home of nine universities.

2.5 years ago, on vacation with us. I think Animal is in the background.

  • Think about SME education when it comes to your career. This is My Chemical Romance’s advice. (SME = Science, Mathematics and Engineering.) SME education leads to more job opportunities than humanities/liberal arts educations. For example, having a bachelor’s degree in engineering means you can get an interview at his company. Having a degree in sociology? Not so much.
  • If, on the other hand, you’re thinking about humanities/liberal arts, focus. If you want a really specific career, such as a sociologist who studies how obese women are portrayed on reality television (no joke, that was my sociology professor’s thesis and concentration), then go for it! For the record, I met my best friend in Sociology 101: Person and Society.
  • Enjoy your freedom! I hate to add this one, because it’s kind of obnoxious in the same way that people tell new moms to enjoy every moment — and I disagree, I think we should all NOT Carpe Diem — but college is different than being a parent (by a lot!) You’re finally away from parents and living on your own. And you’re not yet forced into the work world and paying rent and making car payments. It’s a unique, fun exciting time.

1.5 years ago, another summer vacation!

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3 Responses

  1. Even if your nephew won’t take your advice, I will. Well, everything except the SME part 🙂

  2. Well done, Etah! Maybe with both aunts behind this, he’ll listen??

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