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What We Wish We Knew about College – Before Day One!

September 19, 2023

 Picture this. The entire family is crammed into the stay-wag as it departs from your hometown, packed with enough furniture and supplies to equip a small army.  You can hardly see out of the back window, it's hot, and your parents are already arguing. The information and life altering advice is flowing at a breakneck pace before you have even backed out of the driveway. The excitement and fear of what lies ahead is swirling like a tornado in your mind. Freedom and all that it entails is just around the corner. In that moment, the idea of being an adult, left to your own devices, starts to sink in. This may sound like the setting of a John Hughes 80's movie, but it's real and it happens at the end of every summer. 

The inaugural, first-year college adventure is often riddled with stress and emotion, especially in those first few days. This is true for both students and parents alike. I have had the privilege of experiencing this twice myself as a parent. Each time, I think I know what I’m doing, but there really is no playbook for this major, life event. That is until now! Whatever your role may be, parent or student, some simple words of wisdom based on real experiences may be helpful as you embark on your own journey. To keep this as real as possible, I also asked Jack, our summer intern, to chime in with his own thoughts as well. Happy reading!

Advice from a Parent:

  1. Read the syllabus – Professors often leave clues on how to pass their class or provide extra credit for simply reading through the document. It can also be helpful to mark down exams and important dates for the semester in your phone so you can plan your weeks accordingly.

  2. Don’t take the credit card bait – Credit card companies love to “reel’ in new students with free stuff. Talk to your parents or another trusted advisor before making any decisions.

  3. Take the time to learn your way around the campus - You want to hit the ground running on day one.

  4. Call (or text) your mother – Girls seem to be better at this, but for boy moms this can be especially frustrating. Knowing you are safe and secure means the world to us as parents.

  5. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s – The first few days of college is challenging enough. Money and insecurity can go hand in hand. Don’t let someone lead you astray simply because their parents let them spend freely.

  6. Remember, you are all in the same boat – Kids come from all walks of life and from various situations. You can be certain that you will know few people, if any, on day one. Everyone is in the same position. Take the time to explore new friendships and new beginnings. College is a clean slate for everyone, take advantage of that.

  7. Find a club or group with similar interests – This will be your fastest way to find your groove.

Advice from a Student:

  1. Go to class – It’s so easy to just silence your alarm and go back to sleep because it’s often not required that you attend class. Being there for every class is a great habit to build. One missed class turns in to ten way too quickly, then it’s an entire exam’s material you’re learning from scratch the night before.

  2. Make acquaintances, then friends – It seems so daunting to just go up to new people and introduce yourself. But remember, everyone else is in the same situation as you no matter how good of a confident front they put on. The more people you know around campus, the more comfortable you’ll feel, and the more friendships you’ll build.

  3. Go to the club fair – Join anything you might be interested in. Get the emails, go to a meeting or two, and then keep going to the ones you connect with.

  4. Let your parents know you’re alive – Just remember they’re just as stressed as you are. They’re there to love and support you, so check in every now and then and let them know how you’re doing and how much their support means to you.

  5. Build healthy habits – Getting good sleep, eating well, and taking care of yourself are the foundation for success in all parts of your life. It’s hard adjusting to not having accountability for both self-care and academic success, so keeping yourself accountable through routines and organization is beyond valuable.

  6. Have fun – The sometimes-overwhelming stress of success, what others think of us, and the future can get to all of us. Try and take a step back and focus on one day at a time. Prioritize your own happiness and only focus on what you can control, and life will find a way to point you in the right direction.

- Jack McKinnell/Chris Wasson

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Mosaic Asset Partners, LLC is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS.  Investor Disclosures:

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The material is for informational purposes only. It represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. It is not guaranteed by Kestra IS or Kestra AS for accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.