Every year around this time, I get a little nostalgic about school. I loved school. I love learning. While I consider learning a lifelong endeavour, I do miss being in school. My high school experience was drastically different from my college one (I still don’t know how I managed each of them!), and I look back fondly on the last time I lived at home close to friends and family. But graduating high school and heading off to start college were probably the most intense as everything was so new. Here is some advice for high school graduates to keep in mind.
Dear [Soon-To-Be] High School Graduate,
As you walk across that stage to get your diploma, you’ll be entering a new phase of your life. One with exciting new adventures and challenges. One that will try you yet make you feel invincible. Keep the following in mind before you begin the best four years of your life.
Try new things.
You’ll most likely be going to college (although it’s not for everyone) and there will be a myriad of new experiences out there. Try a new sport, a new club, a new food (or drink, in moderation of course). Get out of your comfort zone. It’s good for you.
But don’t be afraid to go against the crowd.
But just because other people are doing something, doesn’t mean you have to. It can be extremely hard to say no to something but also one of the most powerful things you can do. You don’t have to do everything your friends do. All your friends want to join one club that doesn’t interest you? Join a different one. Which brings me to my next piece of advice…
Make new friends. Find a new hobby. Pick up a skill or two. Make some money pet or babysitting. Figure out things you haven’t had the chance to do yet and give them a try! This phase of your life is all about branching out and making a new mark on life.
Take a class just because it sounds cool.
College is all about learning new things. Don’t limit to classes in your major. Take a class because it sounds cool. I went into university as a Classics major and took Comparative Politics on a whim, and now decided to become a political science major. Mystery and its Fictions sounded like a cool class, so I read some awesome mystery books for a semester and got a lot better at my writing. Don’t think you have to stick with one department. Try something different, it might surprise you!
Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do with your life.
Some people know exactly what they want to do their whole life. Others, like me, are still figuring things out (and I’m graduated from college!). It can be stressful being around people who have their career plans lined up. So, as much as you might want to, don’t worry. You have time to figure out what you want to do. Things will fall into place, just maybe not on your timeframe.
And if you change your mind about what you thought you wanted, don’t sweat it.
The majority of people at my school entered as Pre-Med majors. Maybe 10% stuck with it. Changing your mind about what you wanted to do is perfectly alright. College is a formative part of your life. You’re still figuring things out. Your brain is still developing. You’re discovering new classes and ideas. Like I said before, I came into college as a Classics major but fell in love with Political Science and French. It’s okay to change your mind :)
Ask for help.
Things happen. You get sick. You miss a deadline. You have no idea what’s going on in a class. You get a fluke injury (see above). You have a panic attack. Reach out to someone. Whether friends, family, a professor or a professional, seek help. (This is also a ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped me out by carrying my things, getting me food, and carrying me to bed when my knee looked like a thigh!). Asking for help saved me from crippling anxiety and it can save you from whatever problem you have.
Enjoy your newfound freedom.
You’re finally free of parental supervision! You can stay out all night, watch TV until 3am, eat junk food for all three meals (my apartment was notorious for our “no vegetable” dinners), and never take a shower if you really want to (don’t do that last one). Take advantage of being able to do what you want when you want. But don’t go too crazy ;) Take your newfound freedom and use it to learn time management (and how to do your laundry), but don’t forget to procrastinate just a little!
But don’t forget about home.
Always remember that you have a home. Whether you find your home through family or friends, they will always be there for you. Stay in contact. Don’t forget where you come from.
Finally, take advantage of the best four years of your life.
College is the best four years of your young adult life. You’re basically an adult, living with all your friends away from your parents, taking cool classes and doing amazing things. Take advantage of it before you have to enter the real world (which isn’t as bad as it sounds)!
A well-wishing recent college graduate.
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