I’m sure some of you remember or are familiar with this poem:
All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten
by Robert Fulghum
Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.
These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
The principles of this poem hold true regardless of your stage in life; whether you are a high school senior, a freshman starting college, or a parent. Take a good look at it again. Line for line. Here’s what stands out to me for our college students:
Share. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry. Live a balanced life. Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you were considerate of your roommate and your shared space? Keep your room relatively clean, put things back, and share when you can – don’t take without asking. Consideration for others goes a long way. Consideration for the environment can go an even longer way. Don’t litter on your campus. Schools across America take a beating over the course of a weekend. Think about putting your bottle or Solo cup in the recycle bin or trash. Don’t leave the fast food bag to stumble around a parking lot. Throw it out. Clean up after yourself.
I came across another good bit of advice in the form of a student pledge encouraged in a fourth-grade classroom. Again, these items are worth consideration for all of us in academics.
Today I will do my best, to be MY best.
What I do today will make a difference in my life.
My choices will affect me and those around me.
I will listen.
I will follow directions.
I will be honest.
I will respect the rights of others.
I will learn something today because today matters and my future is built on one “now” at a time.
Although this little pledge isn’t as well-known as Robert Fulghum’s poem, what can you take away from it? You can think about college as a stepping stone to your future. In this perspective, being honest, respecting the rights of others, and learning something each and every day should be the core values of your college experience. If you are not doing these things, you may find yourself in trouble academically and socially. Trouble in either or both areas can stop a career before it starts. I’ve seen it happen. Just yesterday, I spoke with a student arrested twice. What do you think his job search process will look like? I would hate to be in his shoes simply because I didn’t think before I acted. Outside of those arrests, he is a smart (3.33 GPA), involved, and an interesting student. Unfortunately, his criminal record doesn’t reflect that. An employer will find that hard to ignore.
I send this warning out all the time. Please, please, please, have a good time at college, but not so good that you neglect the end goal. Keep your eye on the prize. Make your memories good ones, not regretful ones. For many of you, the new academic year will start in a few weeks. Remember, “When you go out into the world, watch for traffic (trouble).”
These can be the best and most transformative years of your life. Make them count!!!