Unsolicited Life Advice for Teens

We're not in the life-coaching business here at Collegewise.  But every now and then, we find ourselves passing along some life lessons to the teenagers whose college applications we're reviewing.  And like so many adults, we're life-qualified only because we've had the luxury of just being on the planet a little longer with more time to learn from those in-the-know.  So here are five totally unsolicited pieces of life advice for today's teens. 

1.  Learn how to shake hands well.

It's surprising how many people offer a handshake that resembles a lifeless salmon.  Those who do so might as well just go ahead and announce, "Hi. I have the personality of a lifeless salmon." 

Confident and interesting people give off that positive vibe from the
second they meet someone new.  So offer up a firm (not crushing, just
firm) grip.  Smile.  Look the person in the eye.  It's easy to do, and
you'll be pleasantly surprised how positive an impression you can make
for yourself in just three seconds before you've even started a

2.  Be good with names.

A lot of people say, "I'm really bad with names."  But that's often just an excuse for not actually trying
to remember.  When you meet someone and you remember his or her name,
it shows respect.  You're demonstrating your willingness to make the effort.
So make it.  Practice it.  And if you forget a name (hey, it
happens), it's OK.  Just own up to it and say, "I'm really sorry, but I
don't remember your name.  Can you remind me?"  That's a lot better
than trying to fake it every time you run into the person again.

3.  When you make a mistake, admit it.

Making a mistake can actually earn you respect.  How?  Admit
it.  It takes a confident person to just stand up and say, "You know
what?  You're right.  I was wrong;" or "I made a mistake;" or "Yes, it
was me who accidentally set fire to the garden."  Very few people in
this world will expect you to be mistake-free.  But if you can admit when you're wrong, and do so with a sincere apology, you'll project a
certain confidence and humility that's almost impossible not to like
and admire. 

4.  Always give sincere thanks to people who deserve it.

Your mom who does your laundry.  Your teachers who write your
letters of recommendation.  Your friend who's always there for you.
All of these people deserve to be thanked.  It's so easy to occasionally take people for granted (we've all done it).  But if you can be someone who's
genuinely appreciative of the things other people do for you, they'll
in turn feel appreciated.  So take the time to say, "Thank you."  You're mom just might keep doing your laundry for you when you come home from college.    

5.  Treat everybody with respect.

Here's one way to spot someone with no class.  It's the
person who's rude to waiters.  Or who doesn't thank the baggage handler
at the airport.  Or who makes fun of people who are less fortunate.
Believe me, you don't want to become someone who does those things.    In fact,
USA today published an article about this here (I wish I could take credit for coming up with the "waiter rule.").  Successful, likable, good people treat everyone with respect; they're not selectively nice–they're just nice.  We all should be, too.    

I know it's not all college-related, but sometimes it's nice to remember that being a good kid is about more than just grades and test scores. And in the spirit of expressing thanks, thank you for reading my blog entry.