Grandson Going to College: Part Two

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 Live by the Golden Rule

This is always good advice. In life, there are net givers and net takers. It usually isn’t too difficult to figure out which is which. Hint: the truly happy people give more than they take. Treating others as you want to be treated, generally, takes effort. It’s called going the extra mile. In class it means asking the questions probably half the class wants asked or helping another student. On a date, it means being more concerned about your date’s happiness than your own. It means taking time out to offer words of encouragement, directions, or even a cool drink to someone in need.

I remember one weekend when I was alone in our three person rental at school and the phone rang. It was one of my roommate’s sisters. I didn’t even know my roommate had a sister. She desperately asked for her brother. He was gone for the weekend. I asked if I could help. Apparently, a bat had gotten into her apartment and she was terrified. I got directions and told her I would be there as quickly as I could. I didn’t know her and had never previously confronted a flying rodent; but I knew I had to try. She was cowering in a corner when I got there covered with a blanket. The bat flew directly in front of me and into a window. I wasn’t sure who I was sorrier for the bat or the girl. I borrowed a sheet, caught the bat, and gave it its freedom out the window. It appeared unharmed. The girl was extremely grateful. While I never saw her or the bat again, I am confident, we all benefited from our encounter.

The lesson here is to do good whenever possible, and treat others as you want to be treated. In the end, you lose nothing; build good character, and, eventually, the good will return to you (even if only in a good story).

6.) Don’t do stupid stuff

Oh where do I begin? Where? Where? Where?……..OK, true story, I did some stupid stuff and have been witness to far more……A lot happens in four years where there is stress and young people are testing their newly acquired freedom. Young people, without restriction, think they are immortal and are bound to make poor decisions. I will give you a minor example from my own life.  I thought nothing of giving away my old expired driver’s license to an underclassman so he could get some beer. It wasn’t a month later that he and his whole floor were caught by police having a beer bash in the park. The next morning on the second page of the “Peoria Journal Star” was an article about the event. It named a bunch of my friends as Bradley students (they had shown their student IDs) and ended with ‘and Ron Meinstein and a sixteen year old girl.’ Fortunately, the dean stepped in and nobody got in serious trouble. My mother, however, carried that article proudly in her purse for many years and used it as a conversation starter. So I paid for that one.

In general, much of the trouble on campus was related to various, shall we call them, libations. So my advice, drink responsibly and legally or not at all. No one will pressure you. It’s college not high school. Definitely don’t drink and drive. And finally, just say No to drugs!

Other bad decisions involved driving, inappropriate behaviors, unnecessary chances, etc. I could write a book. Oh wait…I did.

With all that said, some bad decisions will be made. It’s part of learning. So mom and dad, don’t stop praying for them.

7.) How to attract the opposite sex

Don’t shake your heads mom and dad. If you ever want grandkids, and I don’t mean immediately after college, your kids need the right approach.

At this point, I know some young people reading this are saying, finally the good stuff. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t proclaim any expertise on the subject, but I learned some things which might be encouraging.

When I started college, I was somewhat awkward and even a little shy. I had some bad experiences in high school and a poor self image. College was different. You are surrounded by young people who weren’t in some of the stupid high school clicks, more serious people, people with goals. Conversations were easy to start, what classes, what major, how’s that teacher, where are you staying, how is it, how are you doing, what are your plans for the future, etc.

My secret to attracting the opposite sex is…..drum roll please….be yourself. I know that was a little anticlimactic. The right people will be drawn to you for who you are, not who you are trying to be. In high school, I was silly, geeky and awkward. In college, I was witty, friendly and responsible. I never felt as if I had changed. I was just myself with a fresh start in a better environment. Also, don’t forget the golden rule. You will get a reputation in college; make it a good one.

Once you have enough nerve to ask, dating is easy. There are always safe activities to do on campus. There are lectures, plays, movies, sports, groups to join, concerts, etc. Often they don’t cost a lot. To maximize your college experience and meet people, get involved, and plan (see above) your activities. Invite someone you met in the library. That’s right, the library. You will do fine with the opposite sex. And, along the way, you will meet some amazing people who share your interests.

There are also groups to join. Crystal and I joined APO, a service fraternity originated from the Boy Scouts. Young men and women working together on community work projects, not to mention playing sports and week-end parties. The number of groups to choose from seems almost limitless. Be careful though not to choose one which requires too great a time commitment. In APO all activities were voluntary.

One final point on dating is always being respectful and caring. Remember the Golden Rule (worth repeating).

8.) Always remember the end game

End game is a funny term. During my tumultuous college years, I met one young man I will never forget. His name was David. I honestly can’t remember how we met. However, I could tell David was struggling. He was seeking God’s will for his life. At the time, I thought he was a little odd and I didn’t understand what that meant. He was obviously lonely. Without taking time to further assess his situation, I told him he should come to our fraternity party. There would be lots of great guys, girls and beer. That’s where I was at the time. I don’t know whether he attended. It was a few weeks later that I found out that David had killed himself. The stress was too much for him. To this day, I regret not doing more. David’s life shouldn’t have been for nothing. Maybe if you are reading this you will know to do more. Suicides are not uncommon in college. If you meet a person you feel is at risk, tell someone of authority like a teacher or counselor. If you have such thoughts, tell someone. Suicide is never the answer to what is inevitably a short term problem. I apologies for this detour, but if it helps anyone, it was worth it.

What is the normal end game of college? It’s graduation, right? Yes and no. Graduation is the short term goal. At some point, maybe on graduation day, or shortly after, a scary thought will hit you. I have achieved my goal, now what? Answer: you keep living. Living life the best way you can is the long term goal.

My very smart grandson told me that graduating high school was like a consolation prize. While I appreciate his focus on the future, that view is just wrong. In this country roughly 25% of High School freshmen fail to graduate in four years. I have substitute taught in Jr. High and High School and I see the difference. The peak of immaturity occurs somewhere between 8th and 9th grades. It is highlighted by wet Willies and fart jokes. By senior year, there is a definite difference in focus and manners. High school is not only a time for learning, it’s a critical time for growth and development. So graduating High School represents a great deal more than just getting grades.

Of those graduating High School, less than 70%, will go on to college. The other 30 plus % will go directly into the workplace. Most of the college bound will start in a community college. Less than 60% of college freshmen will graduate within six years.

So let us never take any step as a consolation prize or given. High School graduation represents a significant step forward in life. It also is a key for the next step. In the case of my grandson, that means college. Graduation from college represents another significant step and another key. Subsequent steps include getting a job, or attending Graduate School, getting married, renting an apartment, buying a house, having children, and, in general, just living.

The point is its fine to look toward goals, but realize that there are no shortcuts. Live each day to the fullest (carpe diem, seize the day). Don’t dwell on setbacks, learn from them. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments in life, and never stop planning or trying. In the end, and in all your pursuits, always do the best you can, help others when possible and enjoy the ride. That’s how to attack college and the rest of your life!

And finally a word from our sponsor: Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT


4 comments on “Grandson Going to College: Part Two

  1. Great article, Ron! Good advice for sure! Michael is leaving for Liberty University in 2 weeks for his Master’s in Divinity. Candace will graduate this Spring. It goes by so very quickly — too quickly!
    Keep on writing and I’ll keep on reading. I always enjoy your thoughts, Ron!
    God bless you, Crystal and your family!

    • Thank you for your kind words. It does go quickly. I’m giving advice to my grand kids! I still feel a little like a kid myself.

  2. Enjoyed your comments!

    • Thanks again Carolyn.

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