Set boundaries with your family — especially if you stay in D.C. for college. Every family has varying degrees of drama, and you have to make sure that drama doesn’t get in the way of your education. Let your parents and relatives know how often to expect visits and calls. Explain that much of your time will now be devoted to homework, research and studying for classes, so you will be less available to babysit, hang out or contribute to family expenses. If your home situation is a mess right now, perhaps it’s best for you to give yourself some distance.
Stay healthy. Try to get some form of health insurance through your family or the university. Get an annual flu shot. Visit the health center if you feel sick or have any mental health concerns. Get a full night of sleep every night. Don’t party hard. Eat healthy. Exercise. Make time to relax.
Don’t make dumb decisions.If you drink before you turn 21, you risk expensive fines and school sanctions. If you use drugs of any sort, including marijuana, you risk getting kicked out of school. Don’t throw punches, even if someone else started it. Don’t get black-out drunk. Don’t have unprotected sex. Don’t stay in unhealthy relationships or friendships. Don’t break laws. Don’t cheat or plagiarize. Before you take a risk, realize that it could impact the rest of your life.
Graduate as quickly as possible. The longer that you are in school, the longer you have to pay for school — and the more likely that an obstacle will pop up between you and graduation day. Try to get your degree in four years or less, which will likely require taking a full load of classes each semester and each summer. If you earned credits in high school, see if you can graduate in three years.
Dropping out — even for just a semester — should be a last resort. If you leave college, it is difficult to come back. If you are considering this, talk about it with your professors, mentors, high school teachers and other trusted adults who might be able to help you find a solution.
Be proud of yourself. You are going to college, and you are going to do wonderfully. Good luck!