I’m thrilled with the release of my new adult romance She Wants It All, the third book in the Sheridan Hall series. I love writing these characters and being on campus at the fictional New Jersey University with them.
Mostly, I enjoy writing college-based romance because it gives me a second look at those crazy, terrible, wonderful years. I can go back, as an adult with some extra insight, and relive that time through my characters. In fact, Sheridan Hall itself, where my characters live on campus, is based on my own freshman dorm at the University of Delaware, back in the dinosaur ages ;).
This got me to thinking. Although there are pieces of me in every character in Sheridan, for the most part, my characters are a lot different than me. If I could go back and relive my college years, knowing what I know now, what would I do differently?
First, some housekeeping matters. As the title above suggests, I’m an introvert. I’ve always preferred my own company to the company of others. Even during college, I wasn’t much of a party girl. Of course, it was college, so I have a couple of cringe-worthy stories, but mostly, I was a good girl.
Also, I went to college during a different time. While we had computers lined up neatly in a “computer lab,” neither I nor my roommates had a PC. We typed papers on “word processors” with White Out handy. We didn’t have cell phones, texting, or even email. I remember complaining when, in English class, the professor forced us to use the computer lab and print out our essays on the paper with the holes down the sides. Trust me, computers were a lot more complicated back then. There was no Windows, just a blue screen with a blinking cursor.
So that is where I’m coming from as I think back on my college years as a Fighting Blue Hen. If I could go back now, being who I am at this moment in today’s world, here’s what I’d do differently. Take heed, college students!
1. I wouldn’t be afraid to talk to professors. As I mentioned, we didn’t have the luxury of email, so any interaction with professors had to take place face-to- face. As a shy, sheltered, introvert I did my best not to make eye contact with professors, never mind go to office hours. I can count on one hand the times I’ve met with professors one-on-one.
If I could go back, I’d ask all the questions. I’d ask for career guidance. I’d ask for help, which was something I never did. I did my best to figure out everything on my own, and never tapped into the brain power that I was exposed to at University.
I’d participate in class more (is this why the “older” students were always raising their hands?) and I’d be all over this email thing! Maybe college is a bit easier for introverts in today’s world.
2. I’d hook up more. Calm down, calm down… Mostly by this, I mean that I’d try to learn more about the opposite sex, physically, mentally, and emotionally in a safe manner, of course. I would amass as much exposure as possible with my captive male audience. I’d ask questions. I’d make friends. I’d maybe makeout a little more. Knowledge is power, right? It seems that college years are a great opportunity to learn and grow, before settling down with someone.
3. I’d explore. I remember considering the exchange student program. I don’t know why I didn’t do it. I wish I’d traveled more in my younger years. Not only overseas to take advantage of the University’s programs, but even around the immediate area. If I could go back, I wouldn’t be afraid to leave campus and I’d explore the world a bit more.
4. I’d pick a major that was also a job title. Nursing, teaching, accounting, hotel management, whatever. Me? I decided on Criminal Justice. Why? Because I thought the classes were interesting. Again, see number 1… I was winging it. While I’m glad I took classes that held my interest, a CJ major wasn’t exactly practical for me. I floundered after college, working in the accounts receivables department of the corporation my mother worked for, until I went to paralegal school and then law school. My decisions weren’t reflective of what I really wanted to do. Nor were they cost-efficient. Do I regret my career path? A bit, maybe. But I did meet my husband in law school, so I can’t regret it too much. Also, to be honest, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. It took me twenty more years to figure that out (Hi! Writer here! ).
5. I’d be more social. By this, I mean I’d venture out of my immediate circle of five friends and roommates. My roommates were amazing– they changed my life, and I’ll love them forever. But if I could go back, I’d find friends of my own, too. People who were just mine, not theirs. It was easy for me too hook onto them and weave my way into their social circles. And at the time, I saw no problem with that. We were a happy family. But now, reflecting years later, I can see that it gaining a little independence from them would have benefitted me. I guess I didn’t trust myself that I could do it on my own.
My advice for college kids out there is this: Do the best you can with what you have to work with. That’s what I think I did. Only now, looking back through my characters’ eyes can I see what I missed out on.
Thank you, Lord of the Books, for hosting me as a guest during this fun release week! I had the honor of being the website’s January Featured Author, and I truly appreciate LOTB’s support of authors and their books!