A Letter to a Student Who Just Got Into College

Dear High School Senior,

CONGRATULATIONS! You recently got into college or will get into college soon, and that is totally awesome. You are probably feeling elated, but it’s also ok to be scared of what’s to come and confused about what to do next. All of high school can feel like a build-up to this moment, and now it’s here, and you still have to go to class. Weird, right?

Alongside getting a driver’s license, getting into college is one of the first really “adult” moments in many kid’s lives. It feels heavy, and there’s a lot of responsibility. So are you an adult now? No. Do you have to suddenly be completely independent and stop leaning on people for support? Absolutely not.

We’re going to let you in on a little secret: we all (seriously, ALL, no matter what age, this probably includes your parents) struggle with what it means to be an adult, and we all have days when we feel like we’re faking it. So don’t pressure yourself to suddenly live up to an idea of adulthood that doesn’t even really exist. Do you have more responsibilities? Yes. But you also still have the support system, whether it’s family, friends, or people at school, that got you from a young and awkward high school freshman to a college-bound senior.

If you got into your dream school, wonderful. If you didn’t, that’s OK. An education is what you make of it. There are brilliant people on every campus (seriously), and your job will be to find them. You will be able to surround yourself with good friends and caring (but challenging) professors who are what make a college experience—not the name printed on the sweatshirt. Finding those people comes later, though, so what do you do now?

Well, the number one thing is to not be an idiot. Don’t take acceptances as an excuse to let your grades plummet (but a small slip won’t kill you), and don’t take advantage of the pressure being off to the point where you get yourself into trouble. Remember that college isn’t non-stop year-round, so you will come home, you will run into people you know now even if you haven’t kept in touch, and they will remember those dumb things you did your senior spring. The best way to avoid this embarrassment is to not do those dumb things in the first place. Don’t burn bridges, don’t hurt people you care about, and don’t take enjoying yourself too far.

Speaking of which, while your grades can slip a little, don’t screw up disciplinarily. Don’t post dumb stuff on instagram, and if you wouldn’t want something live-streamed, don’t do it. There are a lot of ‘don’ts’ in here, so here are some things you should be doing:

  • DO celebrate.
  • DO tell your support system that you love them.
  • DO say thank you to the teachers and members of your school community who helped you.
  • DO remember to be thoughtful towards any friends who are struggling.
  • DO take an interest in what goes into your college experience (yes, that means knowing what it will cost).
  • DO continue to be the awesome kid that made the school you’re going to attend fall in love with you.

Finally, remember that the brain you finish your senior year with is the same brain you’ll start with your freshman fall. So DO stay focused, stay committed, and take care of yourself. You’ve worked so hard to get here, and now you get to enjoy it.

With love,

Caroline Koppelman