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Unsolicited Collegiate Advice

My awesome niece Robin starts as a Freshman at BYU next week so I decided to do a post of unsolicited advice. It’s been five years since I graduated from college and my experience is probably different from hers but I still have a few pieces of sage advice. A lot of this came from older brothers and sisters but some of it comes from personal experience.

1. Don’t kiss lame boys even if they are a little cute. You’ll regret it later.
2. Fall in love with someone new every single day. Crushes are new and exciting.
3. Don’t sign up for credit cards or give personal information to anyone who wants it. It’s not worth that free t-shirt or king sized Snickers bar they are offering.
4. If your friend dates a boy you hate, stay out of it.
5. Go to all the free lectures and activities they offer, even if you are busy and tired.
6. Throw lots of themed parties: Pink Party, Hair Party, Middle School Party.
7. Don’t move home for the summer. You think it is a good idea because you miss it but after two weeks it will just be really depressing. Instead do an internship somewhere fun or get a job in an exotic locale.
8. Take art classes even if you aren’t an art major. (This one might be me projecting my own regret.)
9. Don’t get your hair done by the local hair school students. It will always end bad.
10. Make cookies every Sunday and take them to friends and cute boys. Do this especially when you get depressed or sad.
11. If you can’t get in a class you want because it is full–don’t take no for an answer.
12. Join clubs and maybe start one yourself.
13. If you get a job in college don’t work too much. They are only paying you minimum wage. In five years you’ll make quadruple that and your time in college is precious. Better to spend your time studying or working for free somewhere cool or doing an internship to further your career.
14. Go camping a lot and go on lots of road trips.
15. Find the girls that dress cool, make friends with them and ask them to help dress you. (speaking from experience here)
16. If it rains go dance in it.
17. Don’t park illegally even for a minute. College campuses are crawling with meter maids who WILL GET YOU.
18. Get a Vespa.
19. Never schedule a class before 10am. Don’t do that to yourself.
20. Watch lots of foreign films and go to lots of concerts even if you don’t have the money. That is what college is for.

Ok, What am I missing?

  1. Angela

    August 28, 2009

    Agreed on all accounts from a fellow BYU Grad.

  2. adorninc

    August 28, 2009

    What a great post! I'd just add:
    Nothing's set in stone. If you agree to move in with people from your dorm for your next year and have second thoughts, go with your gut and don't feel obliged.

  3. rh

    August 28, 2009

    and stay there as long as you can!

  4. Julie Weber

    August 28, 2009

    Don't sleep through class, no matter how persuasive your snooze button is!

  5. austin

    August 28, 2009

    Great advice all around! As a recent grad school grad I have lots of experience as a student but also the perspective of the instructor… so if I may be so bold:

    Go to office hours! Your prof or TA will know your face, your name, you! and trust me that is SO helpful if you want a few extra points at the end of term. Besides, they get very bored sitting there doing their own work. They would love an interruption. Trust me.

    This is maybe nerdy, but also, sit in the front of the class. You might feel weird, but again, the prof will notice and will reward you for it. Even if it is a wretched prereq class, at least all the other students will get to look at your sassy outfit or hair!

    Also, don't wear sweats to class. I know the temptation. Trust me, I KNOW. But a cute outfit will boost morale and self confidence, will wake you up, will attract those cute boys or fun friends, will make the prof respect you more… Besides, when are you ever going to have a better chance to experiment with every style you've ever wanted???

  6. liz stanley

    August 28, 2009

    oh here's some advice:
    (these may or may not be from personal experience)
    -buy a box of lucky charms and eat all and only the marshmellows. it's liberating. and your mom won't be there to get mad.
    -although at the time it may sound fun, taking pictures in your underwear at 2am with your roommates is never a good idea.
    -on a similar note, remember: any one can post any picture of you on facebook and your mom and aunts can all see
    -just because you CAN eat all the time doesn't mean you should
    -do not under any circumstance buy matching overalls at dillards with your three besties
    -the library is the perfect place to study if you aren't really needing to study
    -find a friend with a cabin in sundance, a friend with a car, and a friend with a relative close by who is a good cook
    -stalking boys is perfectly acceptable in college

  7. Katie

    August 28, 2009

    Once you find professors you like, establish a relationship with them. Go to their office hours and get to know them. Ask for their help and input constantly. Seek out their wisdom and perspective. This will be rewarding far beyond your college years. GOD, I wish I had done this.

  8. emily b

    August 28, 2009

    take any chance you get to study abroad! this is my biggest regret. i promise that you won't miss anything great on campus while you are away, but if you don't jump on that plane, you will miss out on a great opportunity to meet (more) new people, explore new places and cultures, and eat way better food than what you can get in the dining hall!

  9. caitlin

    August 28, 2009

    Um, what does a hair party entail?

  10. karlee

    August 28, 2009

    I resent the Hair school statement. I'm a hair student and have yet to let anyone leave looking or feeling bad! I do know this.

    Don't be shy. Put yourself out there and make lots of friends. Don't limit yourself to your group or dorm friends.

  11. brooke

    August 28, 2009

    Here are the four pieces of advice I gave my sister when she started her freshman year at BYU:

    1. Don't rush through school – take your time and take as many fun classes as you can.

    2. Do at least one semester abroad (especially if the parents will pay or help pay for it).

    3. Don't dye your hair dark – speaking from personal experience here. If you are blonde, keep it blonde – they really do have more fun.

    4. Study something that can actually get you a specific job when you're done. "Business" & "communications" are fine, but who goes and applies for a job as a general business or communications person? Try accounting (accountant) or nursing (nurse) or photography (photographer).

  12. CMN

    August 28, 2009

    LOVING all this advice! Almost makes you wish you could go back and do it again yourself, doesn't it?

  13. Kate

    August 28, 2009

    Awww, this is making me want to go back to college just to try some of these things! I remember always being so STRESSED during college and I wish I would have relaxed and stopped to enjoy it a little bit more.

  14. Grosgrain Kathleen

    August 28, 2009

    This is fun. I wish someone had given me these rules when I went.

  15. Rachael

    August 28, 2009

    I totally agree on going to office hours, both from a student perspective and a professor perspective. It really helped me in my classes, and I look more favorably on the kids who bother to come to my office hours and ask real questions.

    I'd also add living it up in the mountains. Invite lots of people to go up and build bonfires, play Capture the Flag, and sing Primary songs while the coals are burning down. It's awesome fun and you really can't do it anywhere but BYU.

    Don't neglect your girlfriends for the boys. I admit, I usually had at least three or four dates a week, but guess what? You only marry one of them, and girls are your friends forever. Plus, what fun is a date without a bunch of people to dissect it with later? My roommate just flew out to visit me a few months ago and we had so much fun–husbands, kids, and totally different lifestyles didn't matter, because we were so close from college.

    On that note, don't feel like you have to date every guy you like. My platonic guy friends were invaluable those first couple of years.

    Take advantage of the cultural experiences. BYU has amazing theater and music programs, the MOA is free and so is International Cinema. Visit regularly, and go to Devotional every week.

    Take honors classes. They're smaller, the professors are passionate, there isn't a curve, and you'll learn really fascinating things without filling in a lot of busy work.

    Run through the sprinklers at night at least once. Ditto to playing kick the can on the quads. Take religion classes from professors in the religion department–they're the ones who really know their stuff.

  16. Rebecca (Dog-Eared)

    August 28, 2009

    aw, that's an adorable list.

    getting to know people in your department really well–both students and professors–is invaluable.

  17. Whits

    August 28, 2009

    International cinema is free at BYU! I loved it and I had wished I had taken more advantage of it when I was there.

  18. nikinikinine

    August 28, 2009

    * take advantage of your school's study abroad program and don't be afraid to go somewhere that has a different national language. The only way to learn a new language is to be immersed in it.

  19. deidra

    August 28, 2009

    Don't live with your best friend/cousin. Live in next door apartments so you have 2x the roommates to choose from.

    Take PE classes. It's mandatory work-out time you're paying tuition for.

    Go to sleep. The late-night cramming doesn't help. It's better to go to bed and wake up early (and rested) to review the material one more time.

    If you have to work, try your hardest to find on-campus work. It doesn't pay much, but at least it is convenient; you usually don't have to work nights or weekends!

    I agree with all the others except for scheduling classes after 10:00. I never started later than 7:30 or 8:30 and I loved being done with classes earlier in the day so I could enjoy campus in the afternoon!

  20. Jennifer

    August 28, 2009

    I work at Utah Valley University as an admin. assistant for an academic department, so I know from experience.

    You'd think that this would be common sense, but students can be so inconsiderate. This is my best piece of advice:

    Be nice to the Administrative Assistants on campus. If you're rude, they can make your life more difficult than it needs to be. If your nice, we'll go out of our way to help you.

  21. Janssen

    August 28, 2009

    Oh, this is making me miss BYU so much!

  22. MegRuth

    August 28, 2009

    I never had a bad hair experience at any of the hair schools in Provo. I went to Paul Mitchel, Dallas Roberts and Bonne Losse. I went to friends at the latter two and braved the first with much success.

    Don't knock it til you try it! Plus, really, it's just hair.

  23. Holly

    August 28, 2009


  24. Whitney

    August 28, 2009

    Oh I SO agree with #1! My advice to all college students is: NEVER EVER GRADUATE.

  25. Stephanie

    August 28, 2009

    Study abroad! Study abroad! I know this has been mentioned above, but really, it's the best.

    Also, make friends with at art students and theater students. They throw fantastic parties.

  26. m l e

    August 28, 2009

    Jordan, these are great– totally agree on not taking No for an answer to not getting into classes. Yes to the Art classes (I was a botany major).

    I'd add/modify to say
    -take one class JUST for fun every semester.
    -always remember that when you feel lonely or sad or stressed (which happens a fair amount even to the happiest souls in college) there are ALWAYS people you know who are lonelier, sadder, or more stressed– so take some of those cookies you've made to them, or drop them an email– just make sure to reach out when you're blue

  27. Brittany

    August 28, 2009

    One of the best pieces of advice i ever heard (be it a little too late):
    "I've learned one thing, and that's to quit worrying about stupid things. You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You'll never remember class time, but you'll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don't have. Drink 'til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does…" -Tom Petty

  28. Jennifer

    August 28, 2009

    Tom Petty is a wise man

  29. Whitney

    August 28, 2009

    Oh man, This makes me miss college so much it makes my soul hurt. haha

    I would also add:
    take a random trip of the mountains or beach or wherever in the middle of the night atleast once. You may be dog tired in the morning and you might even miss class all together but it'll be so worth it.

    I still remember doing that my freshman year. I don't remember which class I slept through but I remember every detail from that night- I can still quote some funny one liners that were said.

    I would also say don't neglect your family or friends back home. Of course this isn't to say that you need to stay in touch with every person from your HS but don't loose touch with the ones that mean the most. I'm still best friends with my HS best friend. If it weren't for him I would have NEVER made it through college.

    And as far as picking a major- find something you love. Who cares if it isn't something where you'll get a job right away. You're going to be doing it for the rest of your life so make sure it's your passion. I really struggled with this one and has ended up causing me to take a break before finishing up my last semester. Being an art major really makes you worry about that stuff. Now I'm working in an art gallery surrounded by what I love and more inspired everyday. I'm not a billionaire but I'm not starving either. I'm happy doing what I love so I'd say I'm lucky that way. In sum: Find your passion and stick with it.

    And after college- be intentional about staying in touch with people. I've done pretty well so far. It's been the most rewarding few minutes I spend every week to write a quick email or text message or snail mail just to hear back my friends who helped me become who I am.

    Thanks for posting this Jordan. It has made my day so much better. 🙂

    Thanks for posting this Jordan, it

  30. Jeremy and Kathleen

    August 28, 2009

    Study abroad! I never did and regret it. And I agree about not working a part time job. It's not worth it – instead take out student loans and spend a few hours a week volunteering your efforts at a local charity.

  31. mymcmlife

    August 28, 2009

    Wow, lots of good advice! I'm still waiting to make quadruple minimum wage, though. 🙁 But, I will say I'm much happier as a full-time salaried plus freelance graphic designer than I was as a poor college student!

  32. k8theriver

    August 28, 2009

    ha ha, liz. pictures in underwear–i don't know, i think it might be a right of passage.

  33. Cowbark

    August 28, 2009

    Here's another vote for "study abroad" – and I think it should be #1 on the list. I tell anyone I know starting/early in college to do it. I mean really, when else do you get to move halfway aroundt he world (in my case that was literal – I went to Fremantle, Australia!) for 4-5 months on your parent's dime?! I met some of my best friends there, who I still see almost yearly despite the fact that we lived half the world away from each other!

  34. Kristen

    August 28, 2009

    this was such a fun post! I just transferred to a 4year university (from a community college) and loved the advice! 🙂

  35. Lettie

    August 28, 2009

    13 – really? I graduated almost a decade ago and am STILL not making quadruple minimum wage! I loved all of my silly PT jobs those years.
    Totally agree with the no classes before 10am!
    Some advice from me:
    Like someone else said – graduate.
    Don't study just to pass for things in your major. You'll probably want to remember them come job time.
    I liked getting all my classes in MWF if I could so I had 2 days off.
    Have fun, youth is a blessed thing.
    Love your body because post early 20s things just aren't as good.
    Eh, that's it. I'm not really full of too much wisdom.

  36. arw

    August 28, 2009

    I have to (respectfully) disagree with # 11. There is a limit to the number of people in a class for multiple reasons – both for safety and for the professor's sanity. You do not have more of a right to be in a class than any other student.

  37. josieposie

    August 28, 2009


  38. Emily

    August 28, 2009

    THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE YOU WILL RECIEVE, AND THE ONE YOU'LL REGRET LISTENING TO THE MOST. Just because you are at BYU does not mean you can trust all boys. When I was there not long ago the number one crime was sex crimes. I apologize for my bluntness, but BYU police talk to Relief Societies about it b/c it is so important, and she should know it. DO NOT trust a boy just because he is a returned missionary and has a cute smile. Use your head, listen to those "gut instincts", and you'll be fine. Just think smart. For example, running alone at 2 am on a very dark night through a park: not smart. P.S. Take the flower design class. Life's too short to not have flowers on your table.

  39. Heather

    August 28, 2009

    1.Study in the basement of the maeser building (there is a great reading room there) or in the lobby of the new hinckley building.

    2.Be outside on campus as much as you can in the fall.

    3. Make friends with your professors. Most of them are looking for a few students that they can connect with. If you put yourself out there you will learn alot more and get better grades.

  40. Heidi

    August 28, 2009

    Study Abroad without a doubt. I think it should be a requirement.

  41. Anonymous

    August 28, 2009

    Attend BYU-Hawaii.
    Take a FUN class (of your choosing) every semester.

  42. MsAmanda

    August 28, 2009

    Study what you love, not what will "give you a job when you get out." If it isn't engineering or nursing, then do whatever it takes to get real world experience that complements your awesome art degree.

    Take a business class. Everyone, whether you are going to be a zoologist, administrative assistant, theater manager or hospice worker should understand basic business principles.

    Wander Target or Walgreens for hours with your roommates. Cheap and easy fun.

    Have fun, be open to new things and people. Don't judge people based on what or who you think they are based on your life so far. People are will surprise you constantly.

    Do like Frankie says and relax. You aren't going to ruin your life or career chances your freshman year of college.

  43. jessica

    August 28, 2009

    i know it's been said before, but it is so important that i will say it again (and again and again): study abroad, study abroad, study abroad!

  44. Molly

    August 28, 2009

    My advice for a girl going to BYU–

    Do not expect to go on 4 dates a week. In fact, don't even expect to be asked on one date a week. If you are–fun! But I knew too many girls who went to BYU thinking everyone goes on dates constantly. That's not how it is. I'd say 10% of the girls get asked out a billion times, 50% get asked out every once in a while, and the rest don't really get asked out. Make a great group of friends and hang out with them–that's what it's really all about. I knew a girl who said she was wasting her tuition money, because she wasn't getting asked out. Dumb reason to go to BYU if you ask me. Enjoy it and don't stress about the dating scene.

  45. ferardandy

    August 28, 2009

    if one of your roommates gets mad at you for being really LOUD outside your room at 5am, tell them, "fergi, this is college." that will make them really mad.

  46. Chelsea

    August 28, 2009

    I have to disagree with #1! Kiss all the boys you want and have fun! It's a great way to practice for your future husband. He'll appreciate it later.

    Also, don't schedule any classes on fridays. You'll be really sad when you realize none of your dorm floor girls did and they're off for a weekend of fun but you'd have to skip class.

  47. Carrie

    August 28, 2009

    I third the hair school comments and would add, be nice to the receptionist and ask for a senior student who is really good. They'll almost always hook you up. And if you are really scared just go to phase II at Paul Mitchell. Everyone in there will be graduating in the next 3 months and will charge you 5 times the amount for the same cut a few measly weeks later.

    This makes me want to go take more fun classes. I miss learning new things every day.

  48. Nicole Marie

    August 28, 2009

    these are amazing!!!!

  49. Really?!

    August 28, 2009

    Don't get a job, but definitely buy a Vespa.

    Excellent advice.

  50. Ang

    August 28, 2009

    Great advice! I'd add "don't rush through school – graduating early only cuts short your social life. You have plenty of time to be in the real world later."

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