BEE HAPPY: a message for graduating high school seniors

I was walking my dog this morning when the clouds darkened and we passed this fading chalk message at the elementary school crosswalk. BEE HAPPY. This sweet message would later be washed away by rain, but its worth should not be clouded.

Honeybees have simple goals, much simpler than those of college students, to collect nectar and make honey. Yet bees do not fly in straight lines to accomplish that goal. They fly in a spiraling and seemingly disordered manner. As a soon to be freshman, maybe you’re embarking on your college journey with concrete aspirations of your future career, or maybe you’ll move into your freshman dorm room without the slightest vision of what your future holds. In either case, your path will likely not take the shape of a straight line but will mirror the honeybee in its unpredictable twists. As you prepare for your departure to college and to your own unique path to what lies beyond, think about these 10 steps you can take to sweeten the experience and lessen the occasional sting.

1.     Embrace the Change: Go into it with a wide heart. It might sound hokey, but it makes a difference when you’re embarking on a brand new experience. Whether you’re 10 miles or 1000 miles from home, it will all be new and different. Go into it with open arms and absorb the newness. Much of it will soon become routine.

2.     Welcome Diversity: Your classmates will likely come from around the globe. Listen to their ideas. Even those with whom you disagree will help shape you into a deeper, more empathetic and insightful person.

3.     Be Positive About Your Roommate. Be respectful. He or she probably comes from a background very different from yours. Go into it aware of that. Your roommate might not be your best friend and that’s ok. You’ll have ups and downs, but if you respect each other’s differences and feelings, you’ll learn to navigate not just your freshman year but many experiences to come.

4.     Get Involved. Clubs, dorm activities, Greek life, intramurals. Go to your dorm movie night. Knock on your dorm neighbor’s door. Put yourself out there even if you’re shy.

5.     Seek Help if You Need it. Every school has resources on campus to help. Take advantage of them. If you find yourself feeling especially anxious or sad, schedule an appointment with the counseling center.

6.     Let someone know where you are if you leave campus or town.

7.     Talk to Your Professors. Visit office hours. Ask questions. Review your paper or exam or simply get help on confusing material.

8.     Manage Your Time. Don’t save your studies for the last minute. Even the smartest students in high school can’t get by with last minute cram sessions in college. There is just too much material to cover.

9.     Bring a Foam Mattress Pad. Let’s face it, no dorm room bed is as comfy as home, but a memory foam mattress pad truly helps.

10. Text Your Parents. You want them to BEE HAPPY too, right?