Parents Beware: The College Stories Your Kids Won’t Tell You

University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business graduates. Photo courtesy of Mendoza College of Business


“When I was a freshman, I got mediocre grades for the entire year and my parents badgered me for the reason. I provided a variety of false, but valid excuses, including: adjusting to college, taking difficult high-level courses, and homesickness. The real reason was that I binge watched the entirety of Grey’s Anatomy and Friends in just one semester.”

“For one of my solo midterm projects last fall, I procrastinated worse than I ever have. So, on the night before it was due, I bought two iced coffees at a 24/7 store and drove to the business school at 11:30 p.m. I turned the project in by 9 a.m. (the deadline) but did not get home until that afternoon. I then got a cold and claimed to not know what it could possibly have been from.”

“My first semester of college, I was spending a lot of time building an iPhone app. The idea behind it was to test how well friends knew each other using fun quizzes in lighthearted categories like travel, music, romance, sports, etc. I would work on the UX prototype or database code at least 3-4 hours per day, which eventually began to eat up some of my study time. During the last two months of the semester, I stopped reading the textbook for my Neurobiology course. Keep in mind this was an intense course with mostly biology major juniors in it, and I was literally in my first semester not even studying biology. When it came down to the final exam in December, I realized I had been spending so much time on my app that I had 24 hours to absorb seven chapters of text, each chapter 30 pages long with dense material on different molecular pathways. I proceeded to order $30 of delivery food, locked myself up in a study room with nothing but textbook and pen/paper, and then studied freakishly hard for 22 hours straight. I only got up twice to use the bathroom. I was in the zone. This was the craziest cramming session I had ever attempted. I ended up getting an A- on the exam and finished the development of my app by the end of that winter break. My parents would not be so happy if they knew I had crammed like that freshman year.”

“I wish I were more scandalous but this is really the best story I have: I am a fantastically deep sleeper, a skill (if you can call it that) that helped keep me sane while living in a dorm, but also can get me into some trouble. During the first semester of my freshman year, I had a 9:30 a.m. economics final that was worth a very large portion of my grade. That morning, I woke up and instantly felt the dread that washes over me when I wake up and don’t hear my alarm – I knew I had overslept. I frantically looked at my phone and saw that it was already almost 10 (the final lasted until 11:30, but was supposed to take two hours). I ran to the final, complete with bedhead and pajamas, and took it as fast as I could… I finished with two minutes to spare.”


“I went skydiving last spring break and it was AMAZING!!!”

“When I went to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany during my semester abroad I chugged three liters of beer in front of a crowd of thousand people within a span of 45 minutes. Needless to say, the next thing I recall was waking up to a German officer yelling at me in a bathroom stall.”

“When I was traveling in Malaysia after my freshman year, I was shopping in a street market in Kuala Lumpur. The street vendors in Malaysia have amazing authentic, local foods, but sometimes, the sanitary conditions of the cooking facilities were subpar. This was one of those cases. Yet, in the spirit of adventure, I decided to try some interesting looking dumplings and pancakes from a street vendor. This man did not speak any English, and I did not speak more than a few words of Malay, so I was unable to understand what was in the food I was ordering. However, I wanted to take advantage of being abroad and experiencing a new culture, so I went ahead and ate the food anyway. It was one of the best meals of my life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat (even though it was probably not the safest decision in hindsight).”

“I went to Seattle for a weekend in the middle of my sophomore year. On that Saturday I woke up while it was still pitch black outside and left for a run slightly before 4:00 a.m. I ran up and down the hills of Queen Anne, ran through the downtown skyscrapers, ran on a waterfront beach trail, and on a pier overlooking ferryboats, before stopping in the middle of the Pike Place Market while it was still completely dark outside. This run made me fall in love with Seattle because I was able to see a wide variety of breathtaking views in such a short amount of time. My parents would be furious because I ran outside by myself in what they would say is the middle of the night in a city that I did not know. However, it was that morning when realized I wanted to live in Seattle. When I got back from this run the first thing I did was set up informational interviews with school alumni who live in Seattle. It was this run that set in motion my path to Microsoft, and it is fun to look back and think that ending up at my dream company all started with insomnia and a 4:00 a.m. run.”

“I travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam this past December for part of my independent research, and I quickly realized that the primary mode of transportation in the city is by motorcycle. Despite having realized that, I figured that I would either be walking or taking a normal taxi to my meetings and other destinations each day. I was abruptly proven wrong when the local students I connected with offered to give me a ride to get dinner one night. I walk out of my hotel to meet the student, and she is waiting on her motorcycle holding an extra helmet. That night was the first time I ever rode a motorcycle, and one of my first thoughts as I got on the back of the motorcycle was, ‘My mother would not approve of this.’ I continued to ride with the students around the city for the duration of my trip, and I chose not to mention my primary mode of transportation in Vietnam to my parents anytime I checked in with them. That will be my little Vietnamese secret.”

“I’m not really sure what to write for this, but one time I took a trip to Morocco without telling my parents about it. It was my first time setting foot in Africa and I loved it.”


“On occasion, I will Tweet trash talk to opponents of my college’s sports teams. I am a big school sports fan, and it is always a bit of extra fun to add my support publicly to my classmates. It also serves as a good distractor once opponents figure out it’s the Student Body President tweeting at them. My dad is always telling me to be very careful about what I post publicly out there, so he probably wouldn’t love to hear this.”

“When I was 18 I was feeling well, 18, and wanted to do the things that 18-year-olds do. I got two tattoos and to this day — four years later — my parents have no idea that I have any tattoos.”

“I went into debt the summer after my sophomore year for my music. I was broke. I was working an internship that was paying me less than I was spending on my rent and no one was taking care of me. Even though I was spending more money than I had, I still took a big loan out to push my music because I knew I had a very high quality product. That eventually led to great success with the music that paid the loan back and job offers that would end up paying me very well and helping me dig out of debt. It took a major risk that anyone who cared about me wouldn’t have ever advised.”


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