Nev Schulman of MTV’s Catfish Offers Advice to Students

Schulman poses for photos with students at the end of his talk.

News Story: March 26, 2015

Nev Schulman, host of MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show, visited Sacred Heart University recently to offer nearly 800 excited students the wisdom he has garnered in his 30 years of life. Schulman recently released a book entitled In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age, and he covered some of that material in his talk.

Using a slide show and videos, he shared his journey from a troubled youth who was kicked out of several schools and had ADD and anger issues to the success he is experiencing today. He encouraged the students to try anything and everything and not to panic if they don’t yet have a plan for their lives. With Thomas Jefferson’s quote “I failed my way to success,” on the screen behind him, Schulman said, “When I was your age, I had no idea I would have a successful movie and TV show. When I was 25, I had no idea I would write a book.”

Schulman was very frank about his past troubles, confessing that he once put his best friend in the hospital during a fight. He described that incident as his rock bottom and told the crowd that it instilled in him the value of friendship. After getting therapy, he set about slowly reestablishing his relationships with his former friend and his brother—a story that led to another quote: You don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of. He advised the students to be more concerned about spending quality time with their true friends rather than worrying about how many “likes” they get on Facebook. “Those are not your real friends,” he said.

He said one reason he loves doing the Catfish television show is that he learned so much from his own catfish experience, and he wants to “pay it forward. I am so grateful that I went through the process of finding out who catfished me. It has completely defined my life.” The experience also taught him to listen. “I spent the first 26 years of my life not listening to anybody. When I started listening and really got someone’s story, I grew from it,” he said. “You can be amazed at the effect it can have when you listen—not only on yourself, but on the person you are listening to.”

Other advice for the students included:

  • Steer away from online relationships. If you are in a geographically challenged relationship, be especially careful.
  • The road to success is not a straight line. Take chances. Try new things along the way.
  • Learn to be honest.
  • Be kind to everyone. You can’t be a success on your own. Someone’s assistant may someday be your boss.
  • Be careful with the Internet. Before you write anything or post a picture, think if you want someone to see it years from now. “You’re going to want jobs; you’re going to want to run for office; you’re going to get married and have kids,” he concluded.

Schulman’s talk was part of the 2014-2015 Student Affairs Lecture Series.

If you are unable to view the photo slideshow below, click here.