10 Life Lessons Shared in Student Newspaper Goodbye Columns (Part 2)

As the academic year at last draws to a close and the Class of 2013 leaves campus for good, advice is everywhere– in commencement speeches, parent chats, and student newspaper columns.

Along with adults who supposedly know better, current upperclassmen and graduating seniors are offering endless words of wisdom to their student peers on making the most of the college experience and the post-grad transition.

Some of the advice published in student papers lately opines on big picture issues. Other tips touch on the small stuff. In respect to the latter, as The Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently suggested, “Always carry cash. . . . Never let anyone drive your car. . . . [And] only date excellence.”

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In this second part of a two-part feature, here is a sampling of the excellent advice– big and small– students have shared publicly in recent weeks.

Figure Out What’s Right, Not What’s Right Now.  As Meg O’Connor, a student at the University of Minnesota, writes in The Minnesota Daily, “Graduation provides a time for people to reflect on what exactly it is they want to do. Don’t jump into something because it is what your parents want for you or because you feel that it is the ‘right thing to do.’ Do what feels right for you. We have the rest of our lives to be working professionals, so taking a couple years off or even just a summer away to give you a break sounds like a mighty fine idea to me. . . . It’s more important to figure out what is right rather than what is right now.”

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Know A Little About A Lot.  As Amanda Butcher, a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, confirms in The Torch, “Your college major might not matter so much to employers. In fact, four of five employers said that graduates should have a general arts and sciences knowledge, rather than something ultra-specific. . . . If you know a little about a lot of things, you can always be taught specifics. . . . Hardly anyone ends up in the job they started out in. As people advance in their career, they need to have more knowledge than they started out with. Having a broad spectrum of knowledge would make employers think they can let you move higher on the totem pole of the company.”

Voice Your Opinions, on All Available Platforms.  As Zack Scott, a student at Temple University, contends in The Temple News, “Writing opinions in the more traditional sense will always have its benefits and will never truly go away. . . . But there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be avoiding letting their opinions be heard when the threshold for publication has never been so low. Whether through social media, blogs or even comment threads, you can publish your thoughts and people will actually read and be influenced by them. By any standard, that is incredible. And to not take advantage of it would be nothing short of irresponsible.”

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Recognize What You’ve Already Accomplished.  As Dennis Biles, a graduating senior at San Jose State University, writes in The Spartan Daily, “For those of you who are about to graduate and feel nervous about the next step, stop quivering in your boots of foreboding and realize you’re more prepared than you may think. Just getting through college, especially in today’s America, is a significant achievement in itself. . . . Going to college now is harder than at any time in the past. It’s more expensive and more challenging than anything your predecessors dealt with before … Take it from me, if you’re able to survive college you’re well prepared to survive the real world.”

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Admit Your Own Stupidity.  As A.J. Artis, a graduating senior at Emory University, notes in his final humor column for The Emory Wheel, “You can’t make fun of people for being stupid unless you admit that you are also stupid. No one has anything all figured out. And to mock someone for not having things figured out, without acknowledging your own lack of direction, is not funny. The best stories are the ones that secretly say, ‘I’m pathetic.’ If you want to be funny, hide your feelings or make fun of them. And of course, write on the toilet.”

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