In Robert M. Pirsig’s 1974 book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” the author tells a story that depicts motorcycle maintenance as a chore for one man but a pastime to another. Although the tasks are the same, the attitudes are different. The author proffers that one can find their “Zen,” or be at peace with something, by creating the correct attitude within themselves. This idea must have resonated with many as the book remained on the best-seller list for decades.

Recently, many young people have graduated from high school and are matriculating to college. Many will be leaving home for the first time and living without the direct oversight of parents or other adults. There will be an incredible variety of new or increased responsibilities to face. Each of these responsibilities, such as eating healthy, exercising, studying, etc., can be viewed as a chore or a pastime. As a new college student, it is up to the individual to create the right attitude within themselves to maintain a quality lifestyle. Often, eating disorders and drug/alcohol addictions begin or worsen during college. Your goal should be to enjoy yourself but to stay healthy. It’s all about attitude.

Create a safety-minded attitude. Use the “Buddy System.” This is more than just avoiding going out alone, but having a “buddy” who is like-minded and can help keep you on track academically, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Hold each other accountable. Study together. Work out together. Look out for each other. It is also a good idea to let your folks back home know your schedule and provide some local phone numbers.

At college, you will be around many new people. Be careful not to trust too easily. Be friendly, but keep your belongings locked up. Make sure that valuable items are engraved with some personal identifiable mark. Also, be careful with your personal and credit information. Keep financial and personal information in a safe place out of view. Protect your wallet, checkbook, credit card receipts, and incoming and outgoing mail. I know you will use your phone for everything, but if you use your phone for banking, make sure it has an app installed that will allow you to remotely delete the information. Embrace the idea of keeping your valuables secure.

Remember, academics are only part of the college experience. Much more is about learning to be an adult. This is the time to establish yourself. Determine your beliefs and values and stick to them. You will come in contact with many who believe differently and embrace different lifestyles. You should be respectful and understanding, and expect the same from them.

College years can be the best years of your life, but to fully enjoy them, you will need to be smart in more than just academics. This is your one chance to forge a solid foundation on which the rest of your life will be built. Every area of your life at college is an opportunity for Zen. Think clearly and create the right attitude. God Bless!

Sheriff Kevin Sproul is a longtime resident of Dougherty County. He is a graduate of Albany High School, Darton College and LaGrange College of Albany. Sproul has been employed with the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office since 1982.

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