The College Man’s Guide to Life

Back in 2010 we compiled these words of wisdom from Ivy Style readers. They’re aimed at the college men of today and are as timeless as ever. 

Feel free to leave a comment and add to the wisdom.

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Wake up every morning thinking the day has the potential to be the best day of your life.

Follow your heart and go for it. You’ll only regret what you didn’t do, adventures you didn’t take, lips you didn’t kiss.

Fake it ’til you make it. No one will know the difference.

Try not to be such an asshole.

Always act like a gentleman because your reputation is easy to lose and difficult to regain.

Step up to the plate and swing for the fences.

Find your passion and devote your life to it. You may not be rich, but you’ll always be happy.

She likes you; ask her out.

Criticism comes mostly from people who are jealous of your accomplishments.

Don’t live for the day without thinking about tomorrow.

Take a year off.

Don’t waste your youth growing up. Don’t pen your plans with a Sharpie. Get some dirt under your fingernails.

Don’t waste you money on trends, the classics never go out of style.

Listen to those who are older and wiser. They have already been down the path you are just starting.

Never settle.

The human memory is horrible. Keep a journal and eat lots of fish.

Relax and do what you do. Everyone is too busy focusing on their own flaws to notice yours.

You won’t be in love for real until you’re at least 30 years old. Date as many women as you can without being a jerk.

After high school, the dress code you think is a pain in the ass will make you better dressed than 95% of your contemporaries.

Wake up every morning and ask yourself, “What’s the best use of my time?”

Live with purpose. A laissez-faire mentality only goes so far.

Life is a series of bets, only friends act as a hedge. The riskier your life, the deeper the hedging should be.

If it will make a better story, do it.

She may date the jerk today, but one day you’ll be the kind of guy she’ll want to marry.

Be generous, loyal, and proudly carry on the tradition of the great American male.

Firm handshake, eye contact, smile on your face.

When should a man eat the olive in a martini? Whenever the hell he wants. Apply this to all of life’s questions.

Stay calm, it all works out in the end. And pay attention in French class.

To be successful you cannot multi-task. You must concentrate on one thing at a time.

Don’t make plans. You’re bound to be disappointed when life decides to change things up.

Your grandparents know more than you think.

Things get a lot better. Eventually you get to live a fantastic life and no one makes you write a paper on it.

Take care of your problems so I won’t have to.

Listen to your parents because they were right when they lectured you about grades and work ethic.

You will always be your fiercest critic and most formidable rival. Make that be your advantage, not an obstacle.

Life is too short not to take chances. Worry about school loans after you graduate.

These are the best years of your life. Behave accordingly.

Learn to tell a story, cook an omelet, charm a lady, and dress with style.

Tell average-looking girls they’re pretty, and tell pretty girls they’re smart. For every statement you make to a girl, ask at least two questions.

People are as scared of as you are of them, so you can get away with a lot more than you think.

Your “permanent record” is about as everlasting as your hairline.

Get a haircut.

36 Comments on "The College Man’s Guide to Life"

  1. Wish I could do college over again; though I’d probably miss the experience I had and everything that’s happened since. Amazing how changing one day in the past could completely change the future. Sigh…

  2. Do elaborate.

  3. For the J.Press scarf giveaway I entered, “To be successful you cannot multi-task. You must concentrate on one thing at a time.”

    I know I didn’t win the J.Press scarf but how about a J.Press British Wool Bobcap in Princeton Black and Orange as a consolation prize for making your latest post???

  4. Ralph Kinney Bennett | January 31, 2010 at 6:47 pm |

    It may not be very original, but it is still so true. Fame is something you may win. Honor is something you can only lose.

  5. Sir: a bit more on the provenance of the picture, if you can?

  6. Well how about that, what a difference just two years out of high school makes. I’m honored to have made the list. Let’s hope I continue to grow wiser and not just older.

  7. Wonderful pieces of advice, very applicable regardless of age.

  8. Well done Christian and those who contributed. I plan to print this out, put it in a box, and hand it to my boys at the appropriate time.

  9. I guess women just don’t need advice in college??

  10. It IS who you know. Make a good first impression.

  11. Sure they do: Be careful around these guys, they’ve only got one thing on thier minds…

  12. Keith from England | February 2, 2010 at 10:16 am |

    this is my advice, from a 34 yr old, who’s made lots of mistakes.
    ‘listen to other people, its better to learn from some elses mistakes.’

  13. Life is too short to dwell on other people’s opinion of you. Even when you’re the most upstanding person in life, you’ll still be branded as a tool

  14. Live in moderation.

    Learn to play golf.

    Befriend the janitor and the boss’s secretary. One will get you a clean office, and the other will help you succeed.

  15. “Only driftwood goes with the flow.” – ‘Talk to Me’ by Domestic Science Club

  16. What other people think and say about me is none of my business.

  17. Alberto Conti | July 24, 2019 at 10:59 pm |

    Wear a wristwatch.

  18. whiskeydent | July 25, 2019 at 9:05 am |

    From my dad:
    Don’t talk to the monkey. Go to the organ grinder.
    Be honest, but not stupidly honest.

    From somewhere:
    Look the Devil in the eye and laugh.

    From me:
    Never scrimp on whiskey, bacon, or toilet paper.

  19. Charlottesville | July 25, 2019 at 10:11 am |

    whiskeydent — If you indulge too heavily in the first 2 items, the third becomes even more important.

  20. Old School Tie | July 25, 2019 at 10:21 am |

    For many of us Fashion Gods, it is probably more like “wake up every morning thinking the day has the potential to be the last day of your life” these days. Save time and dress for the casket, I say…

  21. Never stop educating yourself.
    Read. Read. Read.
    Read history, it’ll explain current events more than the news.
    Read the classics; War and Peace will teach you more about life than you would have ever thought possible, and that’s just one novel. Greek and roman philosophers are long dead, but they can still teach you a lot about yourself and life.

  22. Anon speaks truth.

    History is cyclical. “We’ve been here before” is the wisest refrain of the chastened historian, humbled by the horrors of history, which almost always take us by surprise. “Are we Rome?”, asks the student of the classics. Of course we are. And Mesopotamia. And Egypt. “We’ve been here before.” Thus the abiding wisdom of the Old Testament (Ecclesiastes):

    “What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.”

    The life you’re living, filled with desires and visions and pain and joys that both surprise and delight, has been lived before. And it will be lived again–by God-only-knows-how-many.

    Nations rise and fall, most especially the proud, but one thing remains. To borrow from eternal wisdom again: “The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of God shall stand forever.”

  23. Don’t lick your knife during a business lunch.



  24. Henry Contestwinner | July 25, 2019 at 12:15 pm |

    Don’t comb your hair with a fork.

  25. Echoing Sacksuit above. . . Table Manners! They matter. Always. At home and away from home. If somehow table manners were not taught, requested, or observed in your home growing up, the college years are the ideal time to learn how to enjoy a meal at the table with others in a civilized (non-gross) way without out making a noisy, sloppy spectacle of oneself. Make polite dining a habit. Whoever the eventual special person in your life is, he or she will appreciate it. Basic table manners are a fundamental social skill absent in too many men, regardless of age, in 2019.

    Best Regards,

  26. Forget about fun and games. Find yourself a nice girl, treat her well, and marry her. You be thankful all your life with a good lady.
    Then, get a Golden Retriever puppy. It may delay the inevitable for at least a little, while you accumulate some cash, and some maturity. Taking care of a Golden is an excellent primer to child rearing. (Not joking.)
    Learn to enjoy the simple things in life.

    Remember, what good is it to achieve earthy riches, but to lose your soul in the process?
    A 66 year old guys advice.

  27. Echoing Wriggles above…Women!!! Choose wisely. It matters. Always.

    Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

    Also, never sleep with someone who is crazier than you are.


  28. Ezra Cornell | July 25, 2019 at 6:37 pm |

    Find a more diverse group of friends than the 1955 boys of Theta Chi.

  29. Anonymous | July 25, 2019 at 8:04 pm |

    Always carry a handkerchief. Always.

  30. Hope for the best but expect the worse.

    You can get another job but you only have one family and your health is important.

    Someone said they never heard a person on their death bed say “I wish I spent more time at the office.”

  31. Protect yourself at all times .

  32. Honest Gabe | July 26, 2019 at 8:50 am |

    Don’t pretend that you don’t care what others think about you.

  33. MacMcConnell | July 26, 2019 at 9:36 am |

    Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke
    Great advice! That’s why I always only eat BBQ ribs at home in a basement wet room.
    I my very large family you didn’t eat in the dinning room till you mastered the proper table manners.

  34. There will be talks, lectures, club meetings, etc. going on all the time. Go to some that you think you might be only marginally interested in. You probably won’t accidentally find your great passion, but you’ll at least increase your knowledge, and the people there might be the ones you want to know. And college is the last time all of that is in walking distance

  35. Billy Thomas | August 2, 2021 at 11:02 pm |

    Life doesn’t owe you anything. If you want something, you have to earn it.

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