It's the season of graduations.
One of Jon's cousins is graduating from high school this year, and we're all working on useful bits of advice to give him as he heads to college in the fall.
I'm not entirely sure what my advice should be. I don't think my college experience, which began 20 years ago this August, was one everyone should model. I think I got myself into the right place at the right time for me. I felt safe and cared-for at my school. I loved my degree program. I had (and still have) wonderful friends. I met Jon. I was lucky.
The popular thing right now is a big focus on job-oriented degree programs, like engineering or teaching or nuclear physics. That's the advice everyone gives. "Only go to schools that guarantee jobs! Check their graduate hiring rate before you commit! Major in computer engineering/actuarial science/biology and you'll be rolling in dough!"
I say... eh. A job is a job is a job. College is the one chance you have in life to spend 4 years focused on studying, getting to know yourself and your world, trying everything from accounting to orchestra. Don't waste time on a degree you're not passionate about, is what I think. Yes, you'll need a job someday. So be smart about those student loans, eh? The less you spend now, the more freedom you'll have later to take that crappy-paying job that makes your heart sing. Either way, odds are good you're NOT going to be earning 50K when you get out of school. Plan accordingly.
Unless your heart sings for orthopedic surgery, in which case, I give you my blessing and ask only that you let me have your phone number in case I ever need a no-interest loan.
So, here's my list of things you should learn in college:
- how to be a good friend
- how to live with and respect people of different beliefs and habits
- how to cope with stress in healthy ways
- how to take care of yourself - sleep enough, eat well, don't party to excess
- how to live happily on a tight budget
- how to work - good study habits are nothing more than a work ethic applied to learning, and those crappy summer jobs are excellent rehearsals for real life
- how to compromise (on most things) and how to stand firm (on the few things that really, really matter to you)
- how to ask for help
- how to write
- how to have fun!
I'm sure there are a lot of other more helpful, profound things to tell high school graduates embarking on their college career (feel free to leave your comment below). My final word on the subject is...
THERE'S ALWAYS GRAD SCHOOL
ps: Bobby? Please, get to know your local librarians. Ask for help with a research topic instead of for help unjamming the printer, and you'll be amazed at how thrilled they will be to help you.
pps: The library is a GREAT place to meet people. Especially girls. Cute, smart girls who will keep you company while you "study" together. I swear it on a stack of encyclopedias (located in the reference section).
ppps: You can't graduate until you return those overdue books and pay the related fines. For real.