Advice to My Son, Who Is Starting College (from Your Dad, Who Happens to Be a Professor of Psychology)


Author’s note: I started this essay when my son graduated from high school. He is now a college senior. (Procrastination is a problem I need to deal with one of these days.) I publish it now so that readers may share it with the college students in their own lives. Students get a lot of advice of varying quality. This is advice from a father (who knows college and understands learning) to his own child. 

Dear Son,

You are heading off to college. I’m proud of you and all you’ve accomplished. I know you will thrive in college, but it’s going to be a major transition both academically and socially. Often people don’t realize just how profound the transition is from high school to college. You will be creating your own independent identity and making important choices for yourself for the first time. Those choices will influence the kind of college experience you will have. Sadly, some students who are capable of success in college get lost in this transition; they struggle and may even drop out. As your dad, a long-time college teacher and cognitive psychologist, I wanted to share some insights and advice to help you have a successful first year.

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