A few tips from a college graduate from 3 years ago

Published 8:39 am Thursday, July 18, 2013

Column: Notes from Nashville, By Andrew Dyrdal

I found an old iPod in the glove compartment of my car last week.

I’m not the first, as I’m sure an iPod is the most misplaced device in America, but when they’re found we’re transported back to a different time in our lives. After we charge it up and unlock the screen, we re-experience old music, photos and messages we may have forgotten about.

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When I found mine, I first launched its Facebook application, which hadn’t been opened since May of 2010. As I flipped through my profile, I began to get choked up. I had posts from friends congratulating me on my first career job and others asking when I would come visit them in whatever town they ended up in.

I still haven’t refreshed the page back to the present, and I don’t think I will.

It’s crazy how much can change in three years. I now live 750 miles from my hometown and family and 900 miles from any high school or college buddies. Most of my friends are married, and I rarely hear from them and only see them once a year, twice if I’m lucky. It’s a radical change from just a few years back when we shared the same filthy house during our senior year of college.

There are millions of young adults ready to start college this fall. While working at an Apple Store in Franklin, Tenn., I see some of them each day.

I’m amazed when I read their license and see many of them were born in the latter half of the 1990s. I ask them where they’re going to school and what they want to study. Most say Alabama or Tennessee and many are undecided on a major.

As a 26-year-old college graduate who’s lived in three different states and had two different careers, I offer them this advice. (Parents, this is where you hand the newspaper or iPhone to your son or daughter).

• Pursue what you’re passionate about but study something that’s relevant, too. When I entered college I only wanted to be an English teacher, so I engulfed myself wholly into that subject. When I wasn’t busy reading Shakespeare or writing poetry for class, I took courses on art, hip hop, Buddhism and yoga. I learned some fascinating things in college, but as someone who’s still actively looking to change careers (again), I wish I had taken more courses in marketing, computer science and learned to develop apps.

• College is your first chance at a fresh start. If you struggled focusing in high school or don’t like the person you became during senior year, you can change all that now with new teachers, friends and GPA. Don’t be afraid to become yourself.

• If you’re thinking about applying for your first credit card, talk to your parents first.

• Make new friends. Saying goodbye to your high school friends is hard, but you’ll meet some amazing people in college that you’ll be forever close to. You’ll have more in common with the friends you make during college, and they’ll be the ones you call for relationship advice and invite to your wedding.

• And finally have fun. You are about to begin the most fun four years of your life. There will never be another time when you can live in the same town, and sometimes the same house, as all your closest friends. You’ll have fewer bills and responsibilities than at any other time in your adult life (besides retirement, hopefully), so take full advantage.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Thursday.