An open letter to my brother as he starts college:

My little brother and best friend left for college last weekend. He is going to Penn State University, which is laughably different from DelVal, and has yet to decide his major. I am both nervous and excited as he starts this next chapter of his life and takes his first real step into adulthood. Being his older sister, and only sibling, I feel it is my responsibility to give him, and other freshies like himself, some pointers that in my opinion, would have helped me at this transitional period. So here goes.

1.) Don’t be afraid to have fun! But not too much fun. Too much fun can lead to not fun things. Like a trip to the hospital or trouble with the law. Both are things you can live without. Alcohol is fun at times, in moderation (and when you’re legal of course), but it is a stereotypical facet of college life. If you do choose to partake in these activities, just be knowledgable of what goes on. Have fun, but be responsible and safe.

2.) Talk to people you don’t know. They are probably just as nervous as you are to be in a new place surrounded by unfamiliar people. Who knows who that kid in you Sociology class could turn out to be in your life.

3.) Text your parents. Sure, you may be busy as hell and can’t find a second to breathe, but try to set aside a few minutes of your time to check in on mom or dad and see how they’re doing. They miss you more than you know.

4.) Don’t eat too many French Fries at the dining hall. Yes, they may be one of the only edible things there, but the freshman 15 is not to be toyed with. It happens to the best of us. Also, your arteries will thank you.

5.) Stay up late bonding with your roommate. You had a heart to heart that managed to last until 3 a.m.? You played Call of Duty until the sun came up? Good! I mean, don’t do this every night obviously, but a bond with someone you live with in that close of quarters is unlike any other relationship you will ever have. If they annoy you or you don’t understand them, try to give them a chance. People can surprise you.

6.) Find time to go to the gym. Your body and mind will thank you. It is a stress reliever like no other, and college is one of the most stressful experiences of my young life.

7.) Study. Take breaks (super important). Study some more. Watch Netflix. Procrastinate a little. Or a lot. Be awesome. Repeat.

8.) Do NOT be afraid to seek help. College is so stressful at times. Your mental health is of utmost importance during this time period and beyond. There are study groups, counselors, and so many other avenues you can take to ease your mind. That’s what they are there for.

8.) Most importantly though, BE YOU. This is not like high school where you have to try to fit into a clique to be “cool”. Here, you will find some of your best friends for life. I know I did.

Now, I know that not every college student ever has had the same or even a similar college experience that I have had, but I feel the need to share mine. I would have loved to read these words two years ago, but I know others would find it hard to relate. However you navigated or will navigate college is totally up to you. You have this great gift of education that so many people in this world miss out on. Love every second of it.

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