Advice to a college freshman

Dear Maddy,


You are the daughter of my dear friends. Your dad and my husband have been friends since they were three. Over the years our families have stayed close.


John and I met you when you were just a few weeks old and now you are three days from walking out the door to attend college in another state.


I am so proud of the woman you are.


Can I share some advice?


*The friends you make during the first weeks of school will have a large influence on you. Pick them wisely. When I went to college my mom had just died. I picked the wrong friends because they helped me numb the pain. Months later, when I tried to shift, it felt impossible. I was known at the “party girl.”

*Your teachers are just people. Don’t put them on a pedestal. Give them respect, but think carefully before giving away your beliefs and values.

*Make an appointment to visit your professors. As a college teacher, myself, I know the reason they went into this career is because they want to get to know you. (You don’t have to have an agenda; just say you want to come visit.) I promise this will pay back huge dividends. Your teachers will want to know you and your passions, and when they are grading your work, they’ll remember you.

*Now is the time to explore. Take those SCUBA lessons, play on the water polo team, meet your friends at that funky tea room, or take an Art History class. You will discover new aspects of yourself.

*Make time for self care and solitude. You’ll have so many events and people vying for your time. But if you don’t take time to exercise, relax, reflect, be still and be in nature, you will suffer.

*Call and write to your parents. You’re not a parent so can’t understand the depth of their love, and the depth of their grief (and joy!) This is harder on them than you can imagine.

*Don’t pressure yourself to have it all figured out. You’re on a journey. The journey is all that matters. The journey never ends.

*If you get stuck ask for help. College can be one of the most stressful times. Not because of school work, but because everything is new and different. Talk with a pastor, teacher, or counselor. Remember, strong people ask for help.

*Don’t freak if you get less than an A. Do your best and learn to love the process of learning.

*Expect the rollercoaster. I think the cycle goes like this: Oh man, this place is great – these people are so weird – I hate this place and I’m so lonely – Oh well I’ll make the best of it and have a laugh – I’ve found my groove and I love it.


You have many adventures ahead! We are rooting for you.






Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.

She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."