I heard a term the other day that made me turn my head.

The Freshman 20
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Freshman 20.

I am completely familiar with the Freshman 15, having experienced it myself.  But I am somewhat shocked that this trend has grown so much that we must skip the handy alliteration to compensate.

What’s going on?

Oh wait, I know. It’s the Domino’s guy I saw standing on the corner beckoning the new students to come by for free pizza.  It’s the Welcome Back picnics and parties hosted by the student organizations. It’s the unlimited meal plan with all the grilled cheese, French fries and ice cream you can eat.  It’s the “Oh my goodness, I have to read all of this in one weekend? I won’t move from this chair till it’s done”.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Parents, please grab your freshman (or any university student who needs to hear this) and bring them over.  Or please forward this post in your first, of what I am sure to be many, email checking on your progeny.

Dear Student,

You are probably in the midst of one of the biggest upheavals of your life.  You’re excited for your new found freedom.  No bells ringing to signal the next class, no one even really making sure you go to class at all. No one checking your attire before you leave the house or asking if you have homework when you get home.  No curfew or anyone checking your pupils or breath when you come home.  It may seem great right now but don’t let it go to your head.  If you do, I promise it will come back to bite you.

Don’t throw away the common sense you learned at home and, hopefully, in high school.   While I hate to sound like your mom, here are the things I want you to remember as you try to get your bearings:

  1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Start with something in your stomach so you can stay awake in the 8 am class that seemed like a good idea when you registered 3 months ago. Frappucinos do not count as breakfast.
  2. Keggers are always a bad idea.  You are going to make plenty of bad decisions as a freshmen without any alcohol involved, don’t compound them with beer. Plus alcohol calories can’t be stored. They take priority over food calories because they must be burned. The excess calories from after party drive thru runs just get stored.  
  3. Part of the college experience is preparing you for real life.  The habits you develop now are probably the habits that are going to be with you for the rest of your life.  Learning to eat a balanced diet and making time for exercise in your schedule now is a lot easier than when you have a career and family.
  4. Your goal at the end of your college experience is probably to get a job. Research is showing that being overweight not only impacts your chances of being hired but also how much you’ll get paid.  Since you will probably graduate with a mound of student loan debt, maximizing your earning potential is something you need to think about sooner rather than later.

You’re starting an amazing adventure.  Enjoy it, just be smart about it. Thanks for listening and have a great first week of college!

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