One month from now, my youngest daughter will graduate from Fairfield Ludlowe High School (assuming we turn in all library books and pass finals). I wanted to offer her advice about life, college, and the benefits of a good mattress, but she doesn’t listen to me. So instead I will offer other peoples advice in a three-part series. This first part is from her big sister, who has just finished her junior year of college, and her good friend Bo, a rising junior. They have agreed to offer expert advice on college.

Part 1: Life after High School: Caroline and Bo’s Ultimate Guide to College


The first semester is gonna be accompanied by some form of homesickness, just deal with it. It’s gonna happen and it quickly makes you appreciate your family.

Don’t hesitate to chat with anyone and everyone you encounter during that first semester, you never know who might end up being your best friend. If randomly walking up to strangers and asking them where they’re from, and where they’ve been isn’t your glass of sweet tea, then join a club.

Clubs, student organizations and sundry social groups are not to be avoided. It’s the best way to force yourself to meet new people and make new friends. Whether it’s a debate team, a sports club or even a cheese club, it’s the best way I know of to make connections with people who share similar interests with you.

You will quickly realize that unlike high school you won’t ever be forced to be social and hang out with the same set of people day in and day out. If you want to, you don’t ever have to speak to anyone (which can be nice for those introverts out there) and conversely, you can be constantly surrounded by people, ensuring that a dull moment never occurs.

If one of your goals is to make as many friends as possible, then make yourself relatable and agreeable. Being kind and approachable is one of the most valuable forms of currency in college, more so than being “cool” or whatever young kids are saying now.

Lastly, I promise you won’t remember cramming for that statistics final, but you’ll remember that girl from the rowing team you joined on a whim, who came up to you at a party, and simply asked, “How’s it going?”


You’re going to have to master one thing. The “head nod for people you know from your hometown.” Even if you never talked to them, it’s polite to acknowledge them, even in passing. You won’t have to do this forever, maybe until junior year. This also goes for people you meet at orientation. No one ever stays in touch with the people they met and bonded with at orientation, at least I didn’t…Maybe it has something to do with desperately wanting to make friends, but then realizing you have nothing in common with them. Still, you’ll never forget the first friend you made, and you’ll see them on campus three years later and give them a nod and hope they’re doing well.

Never buy textbooks full price. The bookstore on campus is going to try to rip you off. Buy them on your dad’s Amazon Prime account for much cheaper.

Stay on the meal plan for as long as you can. My freshman year, we used to make fun of the seniors eating in the dining hall. Now, I realize, that’s going to be me. “Free” unlimited food, is awesome, and dining halls are the best place to socialize. That being said, go to the gym or take up a sport as soon as you can so you don’t gain the Freshman 15.

One of the best things I did freshman year was make friends with a cheerleader who was in charge of the tee shirt gun at basketball games. They sometimes stuff gift cards to food places in those t-shirts.

Don’t slack your first semester. Pay attention to class absences so you don’t go over the number allowed. Limit all-nighters to once a semester. Keep a journal.

Set a timer and take your laundry out on time or else people will do it for you, and they won’t nicely fold them like mom.

Always put water in your easy mac before you put it in the microwave. This is the cause of 75 percent of fire drills that happen at 1 am. Freshmen are stupid. Don’t walk home alone.

Be patient with your parents—it’s hard on them, too. Call them, and call your grandmother and sister too. Send letters from time to time. The post office sells stamps.

The next column of life advice will be from my daughters cousins aged 6-12.

Congratulations to all the Graduates From Ludlowe and Warde.

Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at