College Advice

Bill Keating, Jr. used to send out college advice to students and parents each fall. Below are are a few of the THDs he would send. Following his advice is all of the advice submitted by our friends on the THD list. We hope these lessons will make an impact on you and your experience during four of the greatest years of your life.


I started sending my Thought of the Day when my son Jack started college.

Many of these thoughts dealt with getting the most out of college and
protecting your future by staying out of trouble.

Although my 5 children have now graduated, with the school year starting, I
wanted to share with those who have children in high school and college the
“school thoughts” I sent over the past 10 years.

All the best for a great school year!

Bill Keating


Last week for the first time in a few months I had to set my alarm to get
up for work. Prior to that time, my alarm was your feet on the steps as you
came down from your room every morning before 6 am to leave for work.

I was impressed and proud of your consistency.

Pat O’Brien in his book Making College Count talks about approaching
college the same way you would you job. If you keep the same hours
at college that you did with McNerney, you will have your late afternoons
and evenings free to enjoy yourself.

When I didn’t have morning practice, I tried to get to the cafeteria
right when it opened and then got to my first class 30-45 minutes early.

I then studied in the classroom until class started. If I didn’t
understand something I asked a classmate when they showed up before class.

In between classes I went to the library (not my room) to study.

I could focus on my school work better at the library than in my dorm. I
could get more done in a shorter period of time because I wasn’t being

There were too many distractions in my dorm and always found myself
watching television, playing pinball or hanging out with others.

Jack, I would appreciate you thoughts, advice and wisdom as begin college.
I can learn from you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Always remember, “you can never learn less, you can only learn more.”

Have fun,
Dad’s (Jim Whitaker’s) Five College Tips:

Don’t miss class.

Keep Up–Plan ahead.

Go To Bed.

Take off Saturdays.

Study on Sundays.

To Do Today: If eighty percent of success is just showing up – then if you
show up (go to class), rested (get your sleep) and prepared (plan ahead),
you will be at the top of your class.
Jack, Liz, Caroline, Paul, Joe,

As you begin you new school year please consider these 5 rules:

1.) OU, UCLA, BGSU and St X have given you a great opportunity to excel
academically and athletically; take advantage of that opportunity.

2.) Trust your instincts; if it doesn’t’ feel right, don’t do it.

3.) Be safe; pay attention to your surroundings.

4.) Don’t do anything stupid. (Be wary of the person who urges an
action in which he himself incurs no risk.)

5.) If you need me, call me. I will help you, not yell at you.


To do this school year: Post these rules on your wall and follow them!


As you begin your school year, I am reminded of one of Grandpa’s favorite

“Start well, finish well.”

The more organized you are at the beginning the better the results at the

To Do Today: Establish a schedule. Get into a routine. When in doubt, go
to the library. Great grades create great opportunities.

Have a great school year!




  • “Be sure to call, not text, your parents occasionally and thank them for their support and love.”
  • “Call your parents!!”
  • “Safety first (be smart) and stick to your values.”
  • “You can change your major, but don’t change your morals.”
  • “Be who you were raised to be, not what is “cool”. Keep in contact with your parents enough to allay their worries. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Enjoy – it is the best 4 years of your life!”
  • “There are drugs put there that can kill you the first time you touch them. I’ve never taken an illegal drug (still true today) as I never felt the need nor the desire. Others around me did. It’s your choice as I’ll not be there to monitor your activities but that choice could cost you your freedom, future employment opportunities or your life. Choose carefully.”
  • “They are keeping score. What you do in college matters. Do your best.”
  • “In order to get a return on the financial investment being made in your education you have to go to class, do the work and get good grades. Employers look at your GPA. It says volumes about who you are, your work ethic and your ability to get the job done. Also, pray every day and continue to develop your relationship with God. Also, seek out good people to be your friends. They will influence your life’s path.”
  • When trying to make a tough decision “it isn’t always what you do right but what you don’t do wrong”
  • “Study something that makes you employable.”
  • “Meet as many people as you can. You will never meet as many people in your lifetime as you will in your first year of college– especially if you live in a residence hall.
    Everyone says to “have fun”… remember to study, too.”
  • “Get involved on campus.”
  • “Don’t try and to drink like the big guys. All it gets you is a double chin, large bar tab, and life long friendships.”
  • “Be careful when drinking.”
  • “Be careful with sex. There are diseases out there that can ruin your life. If you get pregnant (or get someone pregnant) you’ll be known as a parent. When you’re mature enough to be a parent you’re mature enough to be off my payroll. Choose wisely.”
  • “Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.”
  • “Normalize that if there are five major life transitions (moving, switching careers, ending a romantic relationship, illness, and death) many students are facing at least two an often four of these five-often for the first time in their lives) and yet at the same time their friends, family and the culture often tells them: this is the best year of your life. It can be great but it is a big, big transition for many students.”
  • “Everyone is in a new situation, and everyone has the same fears of meeting new people and finding where you below. Make an effort to meet new people and explore the University. Don’t settle into a routine too early.”
  • “Start watching commencement speeches now. Speeches you like and those you don’t, from people you admire and others. They will show you the challenges you may be prepared to overcome. This next year opens a window to the massive changes in your life that you may want to make. It is far easier to start now than to wait until you are carrying your diploma off a dais.”
  • “Nearly all universities have extensive resources at students’ fingertips (or at least a short walk or bike-ride away). It’s up to the college student to utilize them. Whether it’s career planning, extra-curricular activities, finding mentors, networking, working with professors, community service, co-oping, etc…. the opportunity for personal growth, building a foundation, finding your passion and forming a promising career path is there even beyond what one learns in the classroom. At the same time, nearly all universities have extensive distractions in the form of bars, the availability of alcohol and drugs and plenty of students (or perhaps fraternities, sororities or other organizations) not looking out for your best interests. It’s up to the student to not let these distractions prevent them from the vast opportunities that college provides. “
  • “During my 27 years as a professor, I have only seen one student who failed out due to a true lack of academic capacity. 99% struggle due to life skills, perhaps more so in Gen Y’s universe of a great deal of adult support. Time management is a big issue, asking for exceptions to the rules is another. From my point of view the number one transition is to help these young people realize they are responsible for their lives. There are many sources of support (friends, university staff and faculty) but no one will-nor should, care more about their futures then they need to.”
  • “Read Making College Count by Patrick O’Brien”
  • “Enjoy yourself immensely. In the next four years you will meet people who will be friends for a lifetime and learn more about yourself than in any other period of your life. I believe in you. I love you. Go get ’em.”
  • “My advice for incoming college freshmen is to learn and follow the Pyramid of Success by Coach Wooden. Start with the cornerstones, industriousness (hard work) and enthusiasm (staying positive) and build your success each day and week from the bottom up. As for parents, stay involved and use the Pyramid to gauge if you daughter or son is on track.”
  • Quotes from Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam –
    • If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means “First Attempt In Learning”
    • End is not the end, in fact E.N.D. means “Effort Never Dies”
    • If you get No as an answer, remember N.O. means “Next Opportunity”
  • “Do more than just school and party. Get involved. IUDM (Indiana University Dance Marathon) was the best thing I did in college. AND it makes you stand out later on when you’re graduating.”
  • “You can walk in front of a car, but don’t walk in front of a bus.”
  • “Always say yes to free food.”
  • “Go to class. Stick to beer.”
  • “BE PATIENT. The friends and comfort-ability with college will come with time. It takes the time for everyone. If everyone else seems like they’re having an AMAZING time, just think, they are likely in just the same boat as you. What is seen on social media isn’t everything. You won’t meet your best friends on the first day of college (I didn’t), but they will come with time. And don’t give up too soon. BE PATIENT.”
  • “Study hard or you’ll end up like me.”
  • “Wisdom and strength are afforded to those who apply their education to helping people in need.”


  • “To first-time college parents: Don’t be a ‘helicopter’ parent, give them space so that they learn how to cope if they fail.”
  • “Parents – it is time to let go and allow your child to make decisions right, wrong or indifferent.”
  • “As a parent, do not talk to your freshmen on Sunday evening. They are always stressed by the week ahead and the homework they did not do that weekend. You will not sleep well and your Monday will be spent worrying about them. You finally check in with them on Tuesday and they are all smiles and love college. Talk on Friday afternoon if they will take your call. Everybody loves Friday afternoon and the conversations are great.”
  • “Believe you have done a good job in raising your children, and let them soar. They know themselves better than you do at this point.”
  • “Write your college freshman actual letters, yes, snail-mail! It’s fun to actually get something in your mailbox and know your parents are thinking of you – just news, updates maybe a picture of the family dog! Send a package every once in a while, too-maybe with a surprise gift or snacks/goodies to share with dorm-mates-it’s like a holiday when you receive a package at college!”
  • “Send them care packages with all the little things you know will make them feel at home. Add a few goodies for their roommates, too.”
  • “Resist… resist… resist calling and texting every day. You gave them wings… let them fly. Don’t fight their battles for them. If they are struggling with a roommate conflict, give it time and let them figure it out.”

See more WJK THD Collective Wisdom lists here.



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