Do your best in classes, but don't let pressure get to you. Your mother and I have no expectations for your grades. If you graduate and learn something in your four years, we would feel happy. Your Columbia degree will take you far, even if you don't graduate with honors. So please don't give yourself pressure. During your last few months in high school, you were so happy because there was little pressure and college applications are finished. But in the past few weeks, we saw you are beginning to worry (did you know you bite your nails when you are nervous?). Please don't be worried. The only thing that matters is that you learned. The only metric you should use is that you tried. Grades are just silly letters that give the vain people something to brag, and the lazy people something to fear. You are too good to be either.
Most importantly, make friends and be happy. College friends are often the best in life, because during college you are closer to them physically than to your family. Also, going through independence and adulthood is a natural bonding experience. Pick a few friends and become really close to them – pick the ones who are genuine and sincere to you. Don't worry about their hobbies, grades, looks, or even personalities. You have developed some real friendships in high school in your last two years, so trust your instinct, and make new friends. You are a genuine and sincere person – anyone would enjoy being your friend, so be confident, outgoing, and pro-active. If you think you like someone, tell her. You have very little to lose. Give people the benefit of the doubt; don't stereotype and be forgiving. People are not perfect, so as long as they are genuine and sincere, trust them and be good to them. They will give back. This is my secret of success – that I am genuine with people and trust them (unless they do something to lose my trust). Some people tell me that occasionally I would be taken advantage of. They are right, but I can tell you that that loss is nothing compared to what I gained. In my last 18 years leading people, I have realized that only one thing matters – to gain the trust and respect of others, and to do so, you need to trust and respect others first. Whether it is for management, work, or friendship, this is something you should ponder.