"Listen once in a while. It's amazing what you can hear. On a hot summer day in the country you can hear the corn growing, the crack of a tin roof buckling under the power of the sun. In a real old-fashioned parlor silence so deep you can hear the dust settling on the velveteen settee, you might hear the footsteps of something sinister gaining on you, or a heart-stoppingly beautiful phrase from Mozart you haven't heard since childhood, or the voice of somebody — now gone — whom you loved. Or sometime when you're talking up a storm so brilliant, so charming that you can hardly believe how wonderful you are, pause just a moment and listen to yourself. It's good for the soul to hear yourself as others hear you, and next time maybe, just maybe, you will not talk so much, so loudly, so brilliantly, so charmingly, so utterly shamelessly foolishly.
Baker, a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and columnist, knows how to reach college kids. He's funny and engaging ("The best advice I can give anybody about going out into the world is this: Don't do it") without being cynical, and lands enough light jabs to remind his audience that his advice — from "get married" to "sleep in the nude" — is worth heeding.