Celebrities Offer Up Their Best Advice for College Freshmen — and Their Parents!

With back-to-school season approaching, Doug Emhoff, Emeril Lagasse, Jennie Garth and more celebrities reveal their best advice for college freshmen and their parents

doug and ella mehoff
Photo: Doug Emhoff/Instagram
01 of 06

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff

doug and ella mehoff
Doug Emhoff/Instagram

"When our kids went off to college, I encouraged them to get outside their comfort zone," Emhoff shares. "Develop friendships with people whose paths you might not otherwise cross. Sign up for classes about topics you know nothing about. Attend plays, concerts, athletic events, lectures. Travel to new places, because that's one thing in life you'll never regret. Get involved in your community. Make the most of this incredible opportunity. These years will fly by."

As a parent, "sometimes the hardest, and yet most important, thing to remember about sending your kids off to school is that this is about them, not you. Cheer for them as they blaze a path that's true to their personality. Encourage them to explore and develop their interests. There's so much pride to be had in watching your child becoming a strong and independent person."

Emhoff's daughter Ella graduated from The New School's Parsons School of Design in New York City in May.

02 of 06

Emeril Lagasse

emeril lagasse and son EJ
Emeril Lagasse/Instagram

"My wife Alden and I wanted EJ to feel he could pursue any degree, career or craft, no matter what it was and feel supported by us as parents," Lagasse says. "I never wanted to apply any pressure to him in choosing culinary arts, so when it was clear that cooking was his passion, I was thrilled. Still, I couldn't help but want to be sure he didn't feel pressured into it. EJ is already a better cook than I was at his age. He exudes passion for the craft, and I really believe he has the talent, but as his parent, I want him to be happy in pursuing anything he is inspired by. I do feel so lucky that we have a shared passion for cooking, though. It's been an incredible experience for me to connect with him on that level."

Lagasse's son EJ is a second-year culinary student at Johnson & Wales University (Lagasse's alma mater) in Rhode Island.

03 of 06

Jennie Garth

jennie garth
Jennie Garth/Instagram

"The thought of Lola Ray going off to college honestly stops me in my tracks for a moment. Then I remind myself that this is what I've worked as a mother to ultimately do, let my bird leave the nest and fly," Garth shares. "I also take a beat to remember how exciting life is at that age, and all the future experiences she will have, and I get excited for her. That usually makes me redirect my emotions around it all. After all, it's not about me — it's all about her and her future!"

Garth's daughter Lola Ray Facinelli will be attending New York University in the fall.

04 of 06

Tracy Pollan

tracy pollan and michael j fox family
Alexa Hoyer

Pollan tells her children, "Take a film class. Take ballet. College is the time to reinvent yourself. Nobody knows who you are. And just because it's the path you've been on doesn't mean it's the path you need to stay on."

As for parents, Pollan advises, "Instead of taking everything on yourself — shopping, packing, decorating — enable your kids to do it themselves. Let them take ownership of the process. They'll make mistakes, but allowing them to accomplish something complicated sets them up. In a week or so, they'll be doing all those things themselves anyway."

Pollan's daughter Esmé Fox is heading to college in the fall.

05 of 06

Kandi Burruss

kandi burruss and daughter
Kandi Burruss/Instagram

"Don't worry about making new friends," Burruss advises college freshmen. "And don't feel like you have to lock in with the first group of friends you meet at school, just because those were the first people you met. If you don't feel like you connect with them, you're going to meet more people! So don't settle. Find people who have drive and who are going after their goals."

Burruss' daughter Riley is a sophomore at New York University.

06 of 06

Teresa Giudice

teresa and gia guidice
Gia and Teresa Giudice. Courtesy Teresa Guidice

"Going to college is an adjustment because you're sharing a room with someone else," Giudice says. "You hope to get a good roommate, but if you don't, you have to work it out. College makes you grow up in that way. If you can't work it out, switch right away — why be miserable? If you can, meet your roommate beforehand. Go to lunch if you can."

"Remind them to eat right and exercise," Giudice reminds parents. "And that you have to wear flip-flops in the dorm showers."

Giudice's daughter Gia is a junior at Rutgers University.

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