It's the next installment in my series featuring interviews with recent college graduates who have some incredible advice for any students heading to university this Fall. Bay area native Jordan Plutzer unapologetically delves into the practical needs of students as they venture forth into adulthood so, parents, you have been warned.
What were your expectations about your college experience prior to attending college and have those expectations been met or changed?
I believed that the problems I had in high school would go away once I went to college. That. Doesn’t. Happen. It takes a daily practice of self-care and self- love. When I got into Carnegie Mellon I was elated but terrified. I wasn’t confident that I deserved to go to my college. I was scared of what my new classmates would think of me. I was afraid to make choices. I wouldn’t let anyone in, even the people I love the most. I was stiff, anxious and depressed. Everything changed when I started saying yes. I listened to my teacher’s notes, I said yes to social gatherings, I listened to my therapist (therapy is important people). Once I started opening myself up I did a full 180. My teachers noticed, my friends noticed and I definitely noticed.
What surprised you the most about your college experience?
I was surprised that I met friends that I now consider my family. I went to college with 24 of my favorite people on this earth, other than my family and boyfriend. They mean a lot to me too. Yes, I like some more than others. Yes, we fight. But my class is special to me and I love them. I didn’t expect to find my tribe.
If you had to redo your college experience, would you do anything differently?
I would be more confident and creative. Some advice I wish I followed: Be outside the box. Paint with every color. Boring people make boring artists. Be courageous. If you aren’t able to make yourself a fool you shouldn’t be in this industry. You cannot care what other people think or say about you. Try new things. “Yes and” life. If I followed that advice, I would have been much happier.
What was the hardest lesson you learned during your college career? What was the best lesson?
Rupaul (a spiritual guru of mine) says that you have to die a 1000 deaths in this lifetime. I learned that freshman year. I came with a definite stamp on who I was as an artist. A stamp that my friends and teachers did not believe was really me. But I wasn’t willing to change. I wasn’t moldable. Once I realized that you really couldn’t act with a wall, I made a stark change. Wow I’m full of other people’s words but my movement teacher, Catherine Moore says “Hold on tightly, let go lightly,” something I hope to get tattooed right above my naval in bold cursive. It means hold on to everything you have been taught, all the notes you’ve received and all the text work you have put into it. Then, once it’s showtime, let them go. That was the hardest and best lesson I learned in college.
"Oh, also create a budget because I really blew threw money, honey."
What are the essential items to pack for college?
I don’t know what to say here other than condoms. I know parents; you don’t want to hear this but college kids have sex. It is very important to maintain sexual health. Besides pregnancy, the spread of STDs on college campuses can be prevented with protection.
If you have a female identifying child, buy them something that will protect them. Pepper spray is the preference of my friends. If you have a male identifying child, teach them about consent. Rape culture isn’t just something we hear on the news, it happens daily on college campuses. Prevention starts with education. Make sure they listen.
Any other advice for incoming freshmen?
Don’t be an actor, be an artist. Don’t go into this industry because you want to be famous, get into this industry because you have a dire need to create. It will Lead you down creative and artistically fulfilling paths. It will open you to other opportunities, not just acting jobs. Be a writer, learn how to animate, paint, do street performance art. The more tools you have in your tool box, ya know?
"Don’t go into this industry because you want to be famous, get into this industry because you have a dire need to create."
Thank you, Jordan, for your no holds barred advice. I can't wait to see what your future holds and owe you a drink next time you're in town!
For all of you heading onto the next great adventure, I hope this post has helped prepare you a bit more for college. For parents who are about to send their students out into this world, I am here if you have questions or concerns. More advice soon.