Letter to My College Bound Daughter

Westminster College

Dear baby girl,

You are done with what society has ‘required’ you to do. What’s left is what YOU require yourself to do. That can seem scary and daunting and utterly oblivious to you right now, and that’s precisely the way it should be, I think. I have a few words of advice that might help. For what it’s worth, I hope you pause and consider some life lessons I’ve learned along the way:

First, pay attention. The Universe sends us clues all the time, but only those who pay attention to life really find them. Think of life as a big treasure hunt, and as you move from place to place, from relationship to relationship, and from opportunity to opportunity, pay attention to what’s happening. Look for clues to help move you towards your happiness.

Second, be curious. Don’t let the world pass you by. Ask questions, wonder why things are the way they are. Don’t be afraid to try something new, to talk to strangers, or to cross the street. You are now enrolling in life school, which is so much bigger and challenging and wondrous than any school you’ve ever attended before. Be curious about life, about learning, about people and places and things that happen around you and around the world. Soak it all up and learn wherever you are.

Westminster College SLC

Third, trust yourself. Remember that life has a way of working itself out. Your great grandpa Paul used to always say this, and I’ve relied on these words in times when I didn’t know what to do in life, both big moments and small. What I really think he mean was to trust – trust your journey. Trust yourself. Trust the Universe, or God, or whatever spirit you find guiding you along the way. Trust love, loss, joy, sadness, friends and most of all, yourself. Sometimes that’s the only place to go when something feels really huge. Get quiet and listen to your heart and to your instincts. You have learned right and wrong, what’s good for you and unhealthy, and you know what happiness and love feel like. Most of the time you can figure it out.

Westminster College dorm

And finally, remember there’s no place like home. Your dad and I will forever love you and help you. You will always have a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and loving arms to wrap around you. Unless your life adventures take you out of phone service, we’re always a call away and a plane ride home. We will welcome you, your friends, and your partners. We will listen to your triumphs and your challenges, we will root for you in all things, and most of all, we will love you with a fierceness nothing can tame. We know you are ready, and that college is only the beginning of a glorious adventure for you.

So my dear college-bound daughter, pay attention. Be curious. Remember life has a way of working itself out. And always, always know there’s no place like home.

We love you.


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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  1. Jennifer,
    My daughter is leaving for college in 4 days and I have been trying to decide what to do for her. I am not a writer and I am horrible with words. I found your letter by doing a simple Google search. Your words hit home with me and inspired me to create a letter of my own. I hope you don’t mind but I used some of your words and thoughts in my letter. I used yours as a springboard and template to create mine. As I typed I had to stop to wipe away my tears. I am proud of the finished letter but I owe you a big thank you! Without your heartfelt letter I am not sure if I could of put my feelings into words. Just know that my daughter with benefit from your letter as I know your daughter did. Thank You again!

    1. Mark,Thank you SO very much for letting me know that my words made an impact on you. And yes! I’m so happy you were able to use them as a springboard…there’s a reason why this is one of my all-time top posts, I think. Parents struggle with this time of life and even when we love to write, finding the words can be elusive. Best of luck to you and your daughter. I know things will all work out.

  2. So true, Jennifer, when you write “The Universe sends us clues all the time, but only those who pay attention to life really find them.” Modern times have almost annihilated our ability to look for and capture such signs. Life is a quest of our own path and such signs can help us understand our path. Your daughter is so fortunate to have such a wise mom! =)

    1. Thank you, Suzana. Parenting has been such a humbling – and enlightening- experience. I’m so grateful you enjoyed my post.

  3. Hey Jennifer!
    Not sure if you remember but you were my 5th grade English teacher haha
    I got directed here through LinkedIn and thought it was awesome seeing your blog 🙂
    Hope everything is wonderful at home!
    , Travis

    1. Hi Travis! I’m so glad you found the through my blog…and of course I remember you! Davis is basically the same, as is Emerson. I’m still teaching and writing and traveling. I hope that you stop by the blog again and let me know how you are. 🙂

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  6. Dear Mamawolfe,
    “Trust love, loss, joy, sadness, friends and most of all, yourself.” Yes, yes, and yes.
    Thank you so much for putting to words what we feel in our heart.

  7. Hi, Jennifer! ~

    This is lovely — you’re always making me misty!

    What really stands out about your message to your daughter is that it’s all about trusting and experiencing life — in contrast, it seems many of us are full of warnings and admonitions as we send our offspring out into the “big, scary world”.

    So sweet! Will you be my mother????
    Dangerous Linda recently posted…I know I am, but what are you?My Profile

    1. Linda, My kids have taught me so much about warnings and admonitions…they are both so brave-much more than I ever was-so warnings really do no good. I want them to learn to trust themselves and their decisions…that’s how they can stay safe and happy. ~Jennifer

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