Before you throw that mortarboard…

It’s getting to be that time of year when I start reflecting on where I was (insert the blank) number of years ago. With each passing year, I am learning more and more about myself and life lessons that I wish someone had told me around the time that I took that fateful walk across the stage, thus concluding my undergraduate career. So here it is, for all of you rising seniors, new grads, recent grads, or anyone else reflecting…

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Graduated

(in no particular order) 

  • Be kind. Try to keep this in mind as you near the last few days of school. It is incredibly tempting to be super cliquey and hang out only with your group of friends, but make an effort to be kind to everyone. This is most likely the last time your entire class will be together in this environment, so make the most of it and give out kindness like candy. The last impression you leave on a person if usually the strongest,  and the chances of you needing to network with that classmate who you are tempted to snub to hang out with your besties is becoming more and more realistic as the economy continues to challenge us. The last thing you would want is to be passed over for a job where a schoolmate acquaintance works because of their perception of you at your last encounter with them.
  • Be thankful. Be sure to thank the teachers and staff members who have made an impact on you. I can’t speak for all, but these people are invested in what you’re doing, your accomplishments and what you have yet to do in your life. If you have a favorite professor, advisor, hall director, school administrator, food service worker, etc… thank them for however they helped you through your academic career. I guarantee, it will be appreciated.
  • Consider your options carefully. It will be scary to graduate. Consider your options carefully, and take it from someone who has been there. Going from undergraduate work right into a graduate program is not only difficult academically, but socially isolating as well while you watch your friends all moving on with their “grown-up” lives. Yes, it’s tempting to push off the loans for a while longer and stay at school for another 2 years, but I would caution you to make sure that you really know what you want to go to school for and not just hide, essentially, while taking harder classes. There are pros and cons of each decision, and it is a hard one to make while in the emotionally heightened time surrounding graduation. Good luck!
  • Be sober. At commencement, you will find classmates with the nips or flasks up their sleeves, or those who haven’t slept since the day before and coming right from the party. Commencement is going to seem long and boring, and you will be anxious to get the celebration started, but there is nothing fun about having to sit quietly in a hot robe with a hangover, or trying to navigate a stage in heels with hundreds of people watching you while you’re drunk. Appreciate the reason that you’re participating in the ceremony and take pride in your accomplishments, and save the drinking for after the formalities. Plus, the photos will come out better if you aren’t falling over yourself with a glazed expression. 🙂
  • All of the significant other's text books.

    All of the significant other’s text books.

    Don’t burn. I’m not talking about wearing sunscreen, although you will definitely want that on commencement day. I’m talking about your books and papers from school. I know it’s going to be tempting to sell back or give away any and all text books that you’ve accumulated, but if you’re going into a job of field that is remotely close to your studies, save a few of the ones you actually read found most helpful. When it comes to your notes, don’t burn them. Scan through them and tuck them away into your relevant books. You never know when you are going to need to look back at them for “new” ideas in your job and believe me, it does happen on occasion. If you do need the satisfaction of trashing something, it’s probably safe to chuck the syllabi. Those things have run your life enough already.

Seniors, I hope you find this helpful. If anyone reading has other suggestions, please speak up! It’s always nicer to learn from each other, rather than through trial and error. Good luck to everyone this May, enjoy your time- you’ve earned it.

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