The Freshman File: Parent Yourself

Dear Freshmen,

POS: remember that code we all used on AIM when that pesky parent was lingering while we engaged in the magic that was online chatting? (Parent Over Shoulder, for all you parents still in the dark about this formerly foolproof strategy) Use it now!

This is my personal secret to success in college: pretend your parent is looking over your shoulder. “WHY ON EARTH WOULD I DO THIS, KELLY? I JUST GOT A TASTE OF FREEDOM AND DON’T YOU DARE TRY TO TAKE THAT FROM ME,” you may be thinking—but hear me out:

Your daily routines are about to do a 180. Unless your high school circumstances trained you to be fiercely independent, you are about to gain a whole new level of power when it comes to making your own decisions.


Dorm sweet dorm

No one is going to tell you to complete that pile of homework before you go out with friends. No one is going to stop you from watching your favorite Netflix series until the wee hours of the morning while inhaling a few sleeves of Oreos.

If you’re anything like Freshman Kelly, this sounds like pure and utter bliss…freedom, sweet freedom! However, as my parents love to remind me, “With great freedom comes great responsibility.”

And as much as it pains me to say it…they were right.

While the newfound freedom of college is fantastic, you have to think of it like chocolate; it’s great in moderation, but overindulging can make you sick. The college experience is a wonderful one; you have limitless possibilities regarding how to fill your your plate, your closet, your friend group, and your free time…and you get to choose.

and sometimes Micah chooses to eat glow sticks...

and sometimes Micah chooses to eat glow sticks.

It’s every teenager’s dream in high school, right? I’ll let you in on a secret: though at first I relished my precious freedom, it didn’t take long until I began to crave some of the structure I had at home. My less than stellar midterm grades were a direct reflection of my failure to prioritize my time and responsibilities.

My lack of self-discipline stemmed from a cycle of uncertainty towards managing my time, and intensified my procrastination. I didn’t know where or how to start on my responsibilities, so I pushed them off. However, that didn’t last long.

After losing an academic scholarship to my slipping grades, I knew I had to make a change; there’s something about seeing an already ridiculous tuition rate increase that hits you like cold water and convinces you that you’d better invest in your education to the best of your ability. I promised myself I would finish the year being able to say: “I did the best I could,” and genuinely mean it.

homework had me like

homework had me like

As a fairly disorganized person who occasionally often procrastinates, I knew I had to ramp up my self-discipline if I wanted to successfully balance my schedule. I began to realize how my parents had imposed rules for me during high school so they could train me to budget my time when I was on my own. After this realization, I began to tell myself, “Parent Over Shoulder,” whenever I was struggling to make a decision that involved budgeting my time.

Sometimes it was challenging to follow through–when all of your friends are going to IHOP at midnight, but you have a giant test the next morning, your gut reaction won’t typically tell you to choose the extra hour of sleep. “POS,” I would mutter to myself, and instantly, I could shift my mind into a more responsible mode of thinking–to think like a parent (imagining what my mom or dad would say if I asked them for permission to hit IHOP at midnight before a big test).

BUT make sure you still make time to celebrate friendship and breakfast food at SOME point

BUT make sure you still make time to celebrate friendship and breakfast food at SOME point

When I shift the gears in my thought process to one mirroring that of a loving authority figure, I can distance myself from my impulses. This way of thinking increases my ability to think responsibly and make the better decision.

I hope this phrase helps you in your college career as much as it aided you in your elementary AIM endeavors!


Kelly Doles

Ps, the better you budget your time (work before play), the more stress-free time you will have to spend with your friends!


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