Ramblings from the father of a college freshman

So I turned on the television yesterday and I learned that there was a presidential election coming up. Why is no one talking about this as it seems very important? My only hope now that news outlets are reporting on the election is that the candidates will run a positive, uplifting campaign.

I plan to review both candidates’ higher education proposals. As long as they don’t do anything earth shattering like use 2015 tax returns in 17-18 then I can handle it.

My sources are telling me this already happened and it’s called PPY.

What kind of a name is PPY anyway? It lacks a certain creativity. And why am I always the last to know?

Moving on.

I am pleased to start blogging again and I hope I have interesting things to share with you throughout the year. If they are not interesting, don’t despair. EASFAA is assembling a team of bloggers so surely the other writers will leave you entertained and/or informed.

I can only speak for myself here but you have my guarantee that I will not once, no matter how hard it is, mention the election or PPY. Consider this your safe space.

I have spent the better part of the last two decades working with students. I love what I do and I cannot imagine doing anything else. This last year was different though. I have a (gulp!) college freshman. Going through the college search has opened my eyes to all of the stresses that families experience on their way to finding the right fit. I suspect the experience will guide my future interactions and I hope make me a better financial aid professional.

In my house we talk a lot about making good choices and in the months leading up to move-in day we offered many pieces of advice to my daughter. I meant to write them all down in a beautiful, heartfelt letter to her but life got in the way. So forthwith I share my words of advice for new college students, sans the sugary exposition.

Fail…a lot!
Never go to a party alone.
Call your parents every week.
Learn to budget your time.
Be sensitive to your friends’ economic stations.
Find success in your failures.
Always leave a party with the friend you went with.
Call your parents every week.
When at a party, never leave your drink unattended! If you do, dump it and get another one.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Instead, pick a few things you really love and commit to them.
Call your parents. Did I mention that one?
Make eye contact.
Give a firm handshake.
Take advantage of office hours.

What am I forgetting? Join the conversation by sharing your advice below.

See you in this space again soon.

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Brian Lemma

About Brian Lemma

I am an Associate Director in the Office of Student Financial Services at Georgetown where I have been since 2000. Prior to my role at Georgetown I spent two years working in the financial aid office at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. I am a proud graduate of Elizabethtown College (the Fighting Blue Jays), I am married and I have two children, ages 17 and 14. I love long walks in the park and scrapbooking but my biggest loves are my family and the Philadelphia Eagles, usually in that order.* *NOTE: Writer tolerates long walks in the park and hates scrapbooking.

4 thoughts on “Ramblings from the father of a college freshman

  1. I agree with Doryann, my first thought after reading this was to add ‘learn to budget your limited money wisely’! Maybe you forgot that because it is so early in her first semester and she has not called home for more money…yet!

  2. I would add that in addition to learning how to budget time, students also need to learn how to budget money. (Whether it’s their money, or their family’s money, it’s still a finite resource. ETA: That’s sorta what Dave already said.)

  3. Brian – OK, as the father of a senior, I can add to this list. These four years have given me a different perspective on many things we like to apply the term “student-centered” to. The truth is that many of us rarely see things through the eyes of a student…so to all of my colleagues reading this, become the parent of an 18-22 year old if you haven’t already, you’ll see what I mean. So my additions:

    Find out who in the Registrar’s Office can help you with something called a degree audit. Then do one every semester. Twice can’t hurt. Three times, better still. Because Mom and Dad don’t want to pay for a 9th semester, no matter how much you love it here.

    Chances are you can find your textbooks much cheaper online. Pretend it’s your money and spend less of it.

    There are things that will change by the time you’re a senior, including you. And that’s OK (I just got back from our last parents weekend, and this was a common theme).

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