ConGRADulations, Class Of 2018

ConGRADulations, Class Of 2018

This is the prime time to discover and experience our interests and passions on a deeper level.
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"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..." — Dr. Seuss, "Oh, The Places You'll Go!"

High school helped introduce the meaning of hard work in education and the true meaning of friendship. We take the lessons we’ve learned through high school onto our journey through college and beyond. Learning how to properly study and challenge yourself is crucial for the rest of your life. When we go off to college, we’ll be able to forge that connection better with others.

People our age feel like they know what they want or look for in friends and whatever else it may be but in reality they don’t. We all have different personalities. Parts where people like, then parts where people may not like as much. It just means that you’re able to connect with different groups of people. If you couldn’t find the right friends to be around, then that’s OK because it just means that there are other people out there that can truly appreciate you for who you are. Those people you’ve met at the end of your high school career that you wonder why you hadn’t met them sooner, those are the people that serve as a reminder that there are always more people out there for you to get to know and make new memories with.

Those are the people that you got to spend your last few precious memories with childhood with, they were a part of your life and you were a part of theirs. In your last few days, make amends, hug your friends, and thank your teachers, you’re about to start the rest of your life from here.

For me, it’s the excitement but also fear of the unknown, what’s yet to come. Am I making the best decision for myself? Would this be the best path for me to take? I don’t want to be stuck doing something I’d end up not enjoying. I want to be able to constantly learn, grow, and strive to achieve more and really go places, not just be in that one place and not be able to move forward. I don’t want to be just average, I want to be able to achieve, lead, and make an impact on others.

I tend to think about the future a lot nowadays. It’s a difficult transition because you’ve had a path set out for you for, you’re so used to the same routine with school for such a long time, now we’re on our own to make that path which is scary but also part of the fun. Everyone feels like this in one degree or another, knowing that others may feel as lost as you are is comforting because you know you’re not alone.

As rushed as everything may feel, we all still have time. This is the prime time to discover and experience our interests and passions on a deeper level. It’s nice to realize now that maybe you didn’t want to dive into a specific subject or field, but you wouldn’t know that unless you tried. If you’re interested in it, go for it. If you end up not liking it, then you know that now rather than in the middle of your career that you dislike what you’re doing. You’re discovering what would or wouldn’t work out for you.

Fear is a factor that stops a lot of people from maybe trying new things or not going for something they may have a passion for. No goal is too big to achieve, you just need to take it one step at a time and more importantly, you have to take the first step in finding your passions and putting the first foot forward to try it out. Without that first step, you can’t move forward from your starting point.

"You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!" — Dr. Seuss, "Oh, The Places You'll Go!"
Cover Image Credit: Nicole Ma

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An Open Pat On The Back To Full-Time Students Who Also Work

You really deserve an award, but this article will have to do.
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It's pretty freaking hard.

“I can work nights and weekends, I'm a student," you told the manager during your interview.

So, what does he do? He schedules you most nights and weekends. This is OK. This is, after all, what you asked for. So you start working.

Class, class, work. Class, work. Class, no work tonight, you sleep and it feels like the first time in years. Class, homework, homework, homework. Class, class, work.

Before you know it, it's the weekend. There's a party. Your friend wants to see you. Your mom is calling you to see how you are.

But you are working all weekend.

You call your mom on your half hour break. She tells you are doing too much. She tells you that you should work less. Ask for less hours. Sleep more. Eat more. You will get sick.

You get out of work Friday night around 11 p.m. There is still so much night left!! You try to hit up that party. Sure, you will show up a little late, but at least you will make an appearance. At least you will get to see some of your friends. At least you will be able to relax and enjoy yourself. At least you will be able to have some fun. By the time you get ready and get there, people begin leaving. You begin to wonder why you came out in the first place.

“I'm sorry, I've been at work" becomes an all-too-familiar phrase.

But, but, but.

You really deserve a pat on the back, so here it is.

You've given up a lot. And you work crazy hard. Those long nights and hours are hard. A lot of kids your age don't work and rely solely on your parents. But you, you have taken it upon yourself to earn some money for yourself. You are a full-time student, and most of your free time goes toward working and supporting yourself.

You truly do not get the appreciation that you deserve.

But when you do get some time to go out, when you request a weekend off, you have some money to spend. You are never the guy who can't go out because they don't have enough money.

And of course, you will start saving. This is huge. You're going to graduate in debt (probably), and because you busted your butt during school and saved up, putting a crack in that debt will be a little easier for you.

You are a forward thinker, whether you realize it or not.

You are building responsibility, money management, and self-reliance skills, whether you realize it or not.

You are quite mature for your age, whether you realize it or not.

AND YOU deserve a pat on the back. So here it is.

You're incredible. You're amazing. Go get 'em.

Seriously, take a second to congratulate yourself for all your hard work.

And whatever you do, get some sleep, kid. And remember, don't work yourself too hard. Just hard enough so that you feel good, and rewarded, and happy.

You're the man. Keep killin' it, dude. Keep killin' it.

Cover Image Credit: Peter Bernik/123rf Stock Photo

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I Never Wanted To Go To College

I never wanted to go to college, but I stayed because I learned some things along the way - who knew.

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I went because it's what the family expected from me. It's a step towards a successful career path. And obviously because it's a natural progression from high school. But deep down I never wanted to go because I really found no reason to be there.

In my view if you weren't going into traditional career fields, going to college was an expensive long shot. I was also careful to pay attention to all the people that attended college only to work in fields different from what they originally studied.

I was wary but didn't care so I don't put much thought into it. I applied to a handful of schools and attended the one that was more convenient. Once there I found the whole process disheartening.

I relied heavily on financial aid and felt the interaction and choices I was making were more transactional then enriching. It was just like high school again. Go to class take notes, read the book take the test, rinse and repeat until you get the degree.

That was until I fell into a philosophy class that was really challenging. It was challenging in a way that I hadn't been experienced in a while. I was having trouble understanding the material but desperately wanted to learn it. I read books over and over until the concepts were crystal clear. It also helped that I had a teacher who was passionate about the subject as well.

It kind of changed my whole approach to picking classes. Sure I'd visit the advisors and get their take on how to follow the quickest path to graduation. But I also wanted to be intentional with my course selection and take classes where I would learn as much as I could in topics that interested me.

Whether or not they fit my major. That's the only thing that made going to school worth it. Learning topics that change how I approach life and challenged my thinking. Then I was growing intellectually and not just checking boxes for a degree.

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