Five Tips for Embarking on a New Adventure (Plus Advice For My Brother As He Goes To College)

Matthew is Temple-Bound- Jessica Lawlor
One of Matthew’s awesome high school graduation gifts- his first Temple t-shirt.

Today, my little brother Matthew moves into a dorm room at Temple University, my alma mater, to begin his freshman year of college. I couldn’t be more excited for all the opportunity and excitement ahead of him, but as a big sister, I can’t help but be a little nervous seeing my youngest sibling leave home for the first time.

You know, when you really think about it, starting college is really just like embarking on any kind of new experience, whether it be moving to a new city or starting a new job. There are certain things you can do right off the bat to set yourself up for success.

So, in true sister-like fashion, I wanted to pass along some words of wisdom to Matthew and anyone else who needs a little motivation to kick-start a new chapter of their life. (Oh, and if you’re a Temple University alum, scroll down to the bottom to add to my Temple-specific list of advice).

Here are five easy tips for those embarking on a new adventure:

1. Keep your door open. This is perhaps the easiest tip of all, and probably translates better to “be open to whatever comes next.” Go into a new situation with a positive and upbeat attitude. Keep your dorm room door open, say hello to those walking by and be social with those who live on your floor and in the building. Matt is living in one of Temple’s older dorms, but it’s one of the remaining dorms that actually isn’t suite style and shares a communal bathroom, so I think he’ll have a great advantage when it comes to meeting people. Keeping your door open also means keeping your mind open to new people, situations and experiences.

2. Get involved from the get-go. Even if you’re not sure what your interests are and have no idea what to major in yet, get involved in some kind of club or organization. Temple alone has more than 300 student organizations for undergrads to join. In college, I was involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America, the campus newspaper, a sorority and Temple’s Writing Center. I’ve encouraged my brother to consider joining a fraternity, because for someone who is a little shy when he first meets someone, it’s one of the best ways to meet a core group of people. (Hint, hint: Go Greek, Matt!). Even if he doesn’t join a fraternity, I still hope he finds one or two organizations to join-getting involved provides some structure to a day, allows you to meet new people with similar interests and gives you something fun to look forward to (Plus, there’s usually free food involved and Matt, I know you LOVE to eat).

3. Force yourself to be social, even if you don’t want to. This probably won’t be too difficult for Matt, since he loves to have fun, but for those who are a little more introverted, in the first few weeks of college (or at a new job or new situation, in general) it’s important to force yourself to be social and get to know others. As we all know, first impressions are crucial and lasting. Make sure you set the tone for a positive year ahead by making connections with others early on. Even if you don’t feel like going out or don’t feel like going to that first organization meeting, do it anyway. You won’t regret it.

4. Find a mentor. I’ve been so lucky in both my college life and professional life to have a handful of amazing mentors that I know I can reach out to at any time for advice or guidance. I’d encourage Matthew and any other college student to start finding a mentor by getting to know your professors; generally, they have a strong link to the real world, have lived out the experiences they are teaching and can serve as an amazing resource both during college and beyond. From there, as you discover what your interests are and where your passions lie, get to know those in your field; people are very open to helping others.

5. Say yes, more than you say no. While saying “no,” can be wise at times, in a new situation, make “yes!” your new favorite word. Say yes to new classes, new experiences and new people. Let go of any stereotypes from past situations or experiences and consider yourself an open book or a blank slate for all things new.

And of course, I couldn’t publish this post without some Temple-specific tips for Matthew:

Matthew is Temple-Bound- Jessica Lawlor
  • Embrace the beauty of 4th Meal at J&H’s Dining Hall. Nothing tastes better than greasy, junk food from 8 p.m. to midnight after a long day of classes.
  • Be careful of the white lines on the streets of campus…especially when it rains. Very dangerous.
  • Club TECH is probably actually not a very effective place to study, although during midterms and finals, it’s likely where all of your friends will be. My favorite secret (and actual quiet place to get work done) is in the Tuttleman Computer Center.
  • Did you know you that as a student you get printing credits? Don’t waste your own paper and ink until you absolutely have to.
  • Temple has a movie theater on campus…tickets are $2.
  • Become friends with Richie early on. He has the best coffee on campus, plus I’m obviously very partial to his pork roll sandwiches. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet and will always have your back on campus.
  • Of course, this should go without saying, but be aware of your surroundings at all time. I never found a reason to be nervous on Temple’s campus, but always be alert.
  • Take advantage of your proximity to the city. Utilize the train and subway and get out and about in Philadelphia.
  • Spring Fling is perhaps one of the greatest days on Temple’s Campus. It’s not until the spring semester, but start getting excited now.
  • Don’t worry if you have no idea what to major in- I changed my major at least four times and I’m doing okay.
  • STUDY. ABROAD. No doubt about it, no matter the cost, just do it. If you don’t, you will most definitely regret it.
  • Your Temple connections will last a lifetime…mine sure have, and I’m only a couple of years out of school.

Good luck at Temple, Matthew! I love you very much and am extremely proud of you!

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back and live out your freshman year of college again? Or, what advice would you give those embarking on a new adventure of any kind? Share your tips in the comments below.


Jessica_Lawlor_Blog Bio@2x

Meet Jessica

I live by the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and help others do the same to reach their biggest, brightest goals. Read my story here.

Weekly(ish) Content News

If you live for an editorial calendar, love writing clean copy and want to keep a pulse on the world of content marketing, sign up for this weekly(ish) newsletter.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.


Weekly(ish) Content News

If you live for an editorial calendar, love writing clean copy and want to keep a pulse on the world of content marketing, sign up for this weekly(ish) newsletter.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Jessica Lawlor_Lines_teal@2x