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Letter to Daughter Going to College: There’s Still So Much to Teach You

My 18 year old called me on my way to work this morning. She needed a stamp to mail a scholarship application, which is due this week. A stamp. For a big manila envelope, stuffed with about 20 pages of material.

After we hung up, I wondered: How could she not know she’d need more postage? What if I wasn’t here to tell her — the application would never make it to its destination and she’d lose a shot at a few thousand dollars a year.

And then I thought, Well, how would she know? I never taught her that.

And then I spent the rest of my drive to work worrying about everything else I haven’t taught her.

Oh my darling daughter, there is so much you don’t know. Yet in a few short months you’ll be at college. And I won’t be there to teach you anything.

Like …

Do you know not to put your (over-priced) leggings in the drier?

Or how to write a check?

Can you cook anything besides pasta?

You know that library books have to be returned on time, right?

Do you know about dry cleaning?

Or oil changes or tire pressure or wiper fluid?

Do you know not to stay up all night watching Netflix?

Or to eat enough fruits and vegetables?

And to avoid too much caffeine?

Do you believe me when I say not to drink too much alcohol because it makes you vulnerable (yes, my beautiful feminist, I know how that sounds).

Do you know how to walk alone at night in a city?

You’d call 911 in an emergency, right?

Do you know what to wear to an interview?

Or to save receipts?

Or how to tell the good guys from the bad?

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Did I remember to tell you to read Pride and Prejudice?

And to watch the Godfather? Or that there’s not much better than singing along with Stevie Nicks at the top of your lungs?

Do you know how much I love you — or how much your dad and your sisters love you? (This at least you know, right?)

Do you know the world is your oyster?

There’s more I should have taught you — so much more. But the years have gone so quickly and we were so busy.

Is your teenager really ready for college?

So, a lot of it, you’re going to have to figure out on your own. And I know you will. But if not …

Text me?

Diana Simeon is an editorial consultant for Your Teen.

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