An Open Letter to College Freshman

As my son moves into his college dorm 400 miles from home, it seems wasteful to send him off with my sage advice without sharing it with others.

As I sit here in a hotel room in far off Buffalo ready to move my first born son into his dorm, I can’t help but think of all the other parents and children embarking on this same life-changing event. So I thought an open letter to entering college freshman might be appropriate.

Dear child whose parents are crying,

The moment you have been planning for is finally here - you are off to college. This is your time to shine and you should prepare to shine brightly.

For those of you who are leaving home, remember although it is a rite of passage and part of becoming an adult, you are not leaving your family. They will always be a part of you. They were there in the beginning when you came into their lives, they watched over you and kept you safe and loved you every single day for all these years. They share your memories of preschool finger paintings, little league, dance recitals, gymnastics, Brownies, Cub Scouts and more. Your life has been their life and it is now time you go on to find your own.

College is a place to spread your wings and grow. Where you can flex your intellectual muscles and soak in the knowledge that surrounds you. Until now school has been a requirement. College is a choice - a choice to further your education and build on your life experiences. Make the most of your time. Pick interesting classes wherever you can (you’ll always have to take the boring ones). Study hard, do the best work you can. There is plenty of time to have fun and study.

Speaking of fun, this new chapter of your life will find you making lifelong friends. Pick people who are fun, caring, smart, funny, honest and loyal. Get to know all different kinds of people… life’s more interesting that way. Choose your friends wisely.

Sadly, chances are the economy will not have fully rebounded by the time you graduate and getting a job sucks. Employers choose people who show their abilities through their hard work, participation in activities and a willingness to help others. So join things - clubs, intramural sports, community service activities. Get to know your professors and advisors. They will come in handy when you need a reference or recommendation and a lot of them have contacts in the ‘real world’ which will help tremendously when you are job seeking. Be very nice to them.

When you’re uncertain on how to proceed and you’re tempted to do something you know you shouldn’t or something that isn’t exactly legal, remember: you will now be treated as an adult. There are no do-overs. Don’t throw away your entire future for a night of illegal fun.

If you ever doubt yourself in college, remember this day has been years in the making and though you may not feel it right now, you are ready. Believe in what you can accomplish and you will accomplish great things! This is a BIG change in your life, and although change can be hard, it’s nothing you can’t handle. Give yourself time to learn ‘the ropes’ and ask for help. There are many people that will have the answers you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask.

You will be making decisions in college that will affect your life years from now. Make choices that will be good for you; your choice of study should reflect you, not your parents or your friends. Get all the information you need to make good selections. Trust your judgment.

Now be fearless and start your adventure! And don’t forget to call your parents. They need to hear from you at times other than when you need money!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cmkmom August 25, 2011 at 07:47 PM
This was wonderful, wonderful and did I say WONDERFUL!
Richard August 25, 2011 at 08:14 PM
When we dropped our son off I simply said, "Remember everything we've been telling you for the last 17 years". A lot shorter than your letter. Yes, it is an awkward moment. Try to understand the kid is not listening.
dana lee August 26, 2011 at 01:03 AM
Loren, beautiful! oxox
Karin August 26, 2011 at 02:03 AM
Loren, so wonderfully written. I love your letter! You write so beautifully. Thank you for sharing! Karin xoxox
sondra boiarsky August 26, 2011 at 04:13 AM
Loren, You certainly said it all wonderfully. I hope that he'll read it again and again. It's wonderful that it is on your blog as well so many other parents can read and print it. Sondra
Lisa Smith August 27, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Perfectly stated!!!!!
Jacqueline Brown August 27, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Perfect! Thank you!
Emily August 28, 2011 at 10:03 PM
I work at a local college, and want to find a way to share this with all of the incoming new students. I shared this with my cousin who is just off to Penn State, and he really appreciated it!
Susan Miller September 05, 2011 at 11:12 PM
Thanks for this beautiful article! I've shared it with fellow parents who like me are also sending a college freshman off this Fall. Also read another great "open letter" last week that I'll share back with you here: http://www.patheos.com/community/philosophicalfragments/2011/09/01/an-open-letter-to-a-college-freshman/
Loren Boiarsky September 06, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Thanks Emily. If you credit me, you can share it with whomever you wish - so spread the good word!! :o)
Loren Boiarsky September 06, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Thanks for all the kind words. It really was quite cathartic writing it. My 17 year old son did not mention having even READ it, but that's 17 year old boys, I suppose. I'm hoping some of it leached into his brain.
Laurie Levine August 18, 2013 at 10:28 AM
As we get ready to leave tomorrow, I read pieces of this to my son. I hope it sunk it despite his cursing me out for preaching this to him for the past million weeks. Alas....thanks!
CMS August 18, 2013 at 06:31 PM
My girls are 1999 and 2001 grads of Sachem..couldn't have said it better myself! Whether they listen now or not, they are getting the message. Trust me.if you raised them they way you wrote this...the message will stick. And they will pass the same important message and values on to your grandchildren! God bless theq next generation!
AnnaMay Donato August 18, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Very well said - hope your son feels all the love that I see in this post.
EM Resident August 18, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Beautiful! Notice that only women seem to resonate to it. Funny. Mothers are so connected to their kids. Dads play a huge role but when it comes to letting go it is so much harder on Moms. Great letter.
Ima Watchin August 18, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Loren Boiarsky August 18, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Wow. I am touched by the kind words. I wrote this two years ago when I dropped my son at school and I'm so happy to hear that it has touched the lives of those saying their same goodbyes this year. So much has happened and changed in our lives in two years, but every one of those words still ring true. Best of luck to all the graduates and a special warm hug to all the parents. You'll get through this. Best, Loren
Amy Franklin August 19, 2013 at 03:41 PM
A great letter...as I get ready to send my second off to college, the words are still so appropriate. Thanks for putting in writing what we all feel
V.S. August 20, 2013 at 09:52 AM
Even though our son entering his last semester of college, I'm still going to email him this letter. Everything in it is so well said, it's not for freshman only.
henry eroh August 20, 2013 at 11:42 AM
really people- how many do you think will really read this or even follow what is written here- maybe 1 in a million-most college is just party and a waste of parents money so all theletters and oh this is good advice is just wish on the writers mind- most of it will never happen
Monica Romero Matthews August 24, 2013 at 09:37 AM
LOVE this, thank you! We took or 2nd so to college last week. I'm sad, yet so excited for him! :)
Stacey Reilly Cowgill August 25, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Thank you for this...I'm still a year away from this moment, but I can remember the day my mom walked out of my dorm room like it was yesterday, and these thoughts are an absolutely perfect reflection of what we did, are or will be going through. Thank you.
Janet August 26, 2013 at 04:55 PM
To the nay sayers, the cynical ones above...the males that wrote....I feel sorry for you...Kids read more than we think, they listen more than we think and even if they don't acknowledge it they are happy to know we care. I just left my one and only at college and your writing is wonderful Loren. I hope to send it to her and even if she gets 2 things out of it I'll be happy. Thank you for a beautifully written piece.
CMS August 26, 2013 at 05:03 PM
I sent mine off with a memory jar...sounds corny but it helped me get through it. They partied with the best of them but I know for sure that they read and enjoyed and laughed and cried while reading some of the memories I had written. This letter might not even be appreciated til they have kids of their own but don't think for a minute that it wont be appreciated. You have your priorities and heart in the right place.
Gloria Linhart Ketter September 05, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Henry, I beg to differ. Maybe you had a bad experience with your own children or you can't relate like mothers do, but I know for a fact that the kids do take to heart what this letter says. It may not be apparent immediately, but they store it away and use it when they really need it. While there is always exception to the rule, MOST kids will appreciate what this letter is saying if you've raise them right.


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