Advice for the graduates

Published 12:51 am Sunday, May 18, 2014

It’s true what they say: Time flies when you’re having fun.

But what about when you’re growing up?

Of course, any mother or father would agree that their children grow up way too fast. From diapers to driving a car, those years go by like the blink of an eye.

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In the next couple of weeks as graduation season begins, parents and children will be reminded of just how fast the years go by.

It hasn’t been all that long since I graduated high school — 12 years.

I remember how exciting it was to finally close that chapter in my life and move on to college. At the time, high school seemed to creep by at a glacial pace.

Now, at 30 years old, I look back and wonder where the past 12 years went.

My Facebook feed is filled with old friends’ wedding and baby photos and posts about their day at the office.

At some point, adult responsibility reared its ugly head, priorities changed and we grew up.

As for those high school seniors who are getting ready to take the walk to claim that hard-earned diploma, I’m speaking directly you. You’re getting ready to start a new chapter in your lives, too.

Some of you may go to college or technical school.

Be prepared, because the next four to five years, give or take, are going to seem glacially slow, too. But when it’s all done, you’ll wonder where the time went.

This will likely be the first time you’re out on your own. Whether you choose to live in a dorm or your own apartment, you are now master of your own destiny.

So here’s a piece of advice — make the most of it.

Take this opportunity to find out what you’re passionate about and pursue it. Some of you may already know exactly what you want to be “when you grow up,” but if you’re like I was at 18 years old, you don’t have a clue.

There is a lot of pressure to declare a major when applying to college, but if you really don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life, it’s OK. Believe me.

I probably changed my major four times before sticking with one.

But I do recommend you take a serious look at how you want to spend your time in college. It never hurts to be prepared. Check out a course catalogue and research what you think you’d like to be doing in 10, 15 or 20 years. Take a variety of classes and something is bound to pique your interest.

Another piece of advice — Don’t be scared to make a mistake, big or small.

No one has all of life’s answers at 18 years old, or 30 or 40 for that matter.

You will mess up; you will fail. You’re young and you’ll have all these ideas, many of which won’t hold any water but you’ll use them like a dam just the same.

And when the dam breaks, there will be a lesson to learn, so pay attention.

Also, be responsible. Have fun, sure, but don’t forget why you filled out those financial aid forms or why your parents cut that check to your university.

You are there to learn so you can, hopefully, get a good job after you graduate and that next chapter of your life begins.

One of the more classic mistakes some of my friends made was simply not going to class. Your professors likely won’t take attendance, although some do, so it’s easy to skip a class “because no one cares,” or “I’ll just read the textbook later.”

Just be responsible and manage your time and schedule.

There are probably hundreds of tidbits of advice I or anyone else could give a college freshman about the first year experience, but I’ll just leave you with one more.

Don’t be scared to step out of your comfort zone.

College is such a unique experience. You are going to be in close proximity to a widely diverse crowd. There will be people with different political views, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and economic standing. You will definitely be out of your comfort zone.

But the great thing is, most of these people are going to be out of their comfort zones, too. So get out there and meet them. Join clubs, sports teams and attend campus activities.

You’ll learn a lot about other people and yourself in the process. If you’re lucky you’ll make some lifelong friends.

But remember, stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things does not mean sacrificing your principles or beliefs. Don’t let anyone try and tell you otherwise.

So, for all the seniors who will graduate this month, don’t mourn your high school days. Keep the good memories and the good friends, but don’t look back.

Irish author C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head when he said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”


Michelle Goodman is the news editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at