Dear High School Graduate,
Congratulations on your recent accomplishment! We hope the rest of your summer is filled with friends, family, and most importantly – fun!
As you begin preparing for college this fall, we want to offer you some words of wisdom and encouragement:
1. Embrace change. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
For the past 4 years, you’ve been surrounded by the same friends and supported by the same staff and faculty. Your schedule has probably remained fairly consistent. And if you’re lucky, you haven’t experienced too much heartbreak or bullying.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but college is made to be filled with new people and new experiences. It often takes time to adjust to life on campus and a varied schedule, but it’s so worth it. They may be filled with many ups and downs, but the next 4 years will be the time of your life.
Remember when dealing with so many changes, to embrace life and just go with the flow. Be positive and stay open-minded to trying new things. Be confident, but more importantly - be courageous.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Never forget the many resources you constantly have at your disposal. Your professors, TAs, department staff, counselors, RAs, and parents are all devoted to your success. Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, they are.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed at times, especially with all the change during your freshman year. But don’t let your “new adult pride” get in your way. Remember that the most successful people in the world didn’t rise to greatness alone, so never be afraid to ask for help if you want or need it.
3. Have fun, but be responsible.
At some point during your college years, you’re probably going to party pretty hard. And in all honestly, you’ve probably already partied hard. Maybe you’ve snuck out in the middle of the night, broken a few rules, or thrown a rager (while your parents were away) that was “lit”. Either way, you’ve likely already learned this lesson.
(Disclaimer: We’re not encouraging any reckless behavior. But as much as parents sometimes like to be, we’re not ignorant to what goes on in high school and college these days. We also know you’re excited to get out of your parents’ house and take advantage of your new found freedom. So have fun, but again - be responsible!)
4. Follow your heart and blaze your own trail.
In high school, it often felt like a game of “fitting in”. Maybe you felt misunderstood, or maybe you graduated as the most popular kid in your class.
In college, none of that really matters anymore.
The next 4 years are about you and your future. Focus on finding yourself, and become the person you want to be. It doesn’t matter if that’s the quarterback for the school football team, or a research assistant in the university lab.
Eventually, people learn to care less about the clothes you wear, how many followers you have on Instagram, or how many Snapchats you posted yesterday. The only thing that really matters in college is that you do your best to pursue what you’re passionate about and propel yourself forward in life.
5. Major in the subject that excites you the most.
Don’t get a degree just because you think it will get you a job. Get a degree because you’re passionate about the subject.
Many college graduates end up with jobs that are unrelated to their major. People end up pursuing careers that aren’t at all in line with their degree(s). This isn’t to say you shouldn’t think about the kind of career you might want to have, but don’t get so caught up in the future that you forget about the present.
4 years is a surprisingly long time, and you’ll most likely change your mind a few times about what you want to do. Take your freshman general education courses seriously, and think about which ones you enjoy the most. This can help point you in the right direction.
Also, don’t be afraid to minor in a second subject, or double or triple major. That might sound scary, expensive, and demanding; but you’ll probably end up glad you took that extra year or two to study everything you love.
6. Pursue extracurricular activities and hobbies.
If you can’t decide on just one or two subjects, don’t worry about it. That’s what hobbies are for.
As you grow older, you’ll realize the importance of having a life outside of school and work. Coursework will fill up your days, but don’t forget to make time for activities you enjoy. Whether you like volunteering, playing music, playing sports, or cooking, these extracurricular pursuits are a part of who you are and shouldn’t be forsaken.
Plus, your activities and hobbies can play a role in the kind of internships and/or jobs you get. Every experience counts when you’re trying to get some experience.
7. Take advantage of job opportunities and internships.
For many degree programs, internships can earn you course credit. However, even if an internship won’t earn you credit, make sure you have at least one or two on your resume by the time you graduate. It will make you a lot more attractive to employers looking for recent graduates, and it will be a great supplement to your degree.
8. If you get the chance, study abroad.
There are few greater experiences than living in a foreign country for an extended period of time. And let’s face it – not everyone has the opportunity or ability to travel the world.
If your school offers a study abroad program, take advantage of it. Study in Europe, South America, Australia, Asia, wherever… just do it. Be brave, spread your wings, explore and adventure. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
9. Don’t procrastinate on your laundry.
10. Never underestimate your power to change the world.
Maybe you feel small, or like you’re going through the motions. And someday, you’ll probably find yourself wondering about your purpose and whether or not anything you’re doing matters. But as cliché as it may seem, you’re here for a reason and you do matter.
College will push you and cause you to doubt yourself. You’re going to struggle with at least one class, compare yourself to others, and wonder whether you’re really going to succeed in life. During those times, remember that not everyone can be good at everything. Your talents are yours, and no one can take that away from you.
The little league soccer coach that sets a positive example for the kids in the community is just as influential as the tech geek down the hall who will probably become the next Mark Zuckerberg. You don’t have to rule the world in order to make an impact and make the world a better place. Remember that no position is better than another, and that those who join talents and work together are the ones who usually end up doing the most good.
Good luck, graduates. We know you can do it!