Graduating to adulthood
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With Jess Willard
For Macoupin County high school seniors, the rest of their lives is right around the corner. The overwhelming “What do I do next?” may be all-consuming, turning simple decisions into enormous tasks. To preface, I was in their shoes only four years ago, and I recall the crushing weight of crossing that graduation stage into the unknown.
Looking back on it all, there were several pieces of advice I wish someone had given me other than “pick a well-renowned college and get a degree that will either make you six digits or save the world.” High school seniors, here’s what you should really keep in mind when you put on your cap and gown.
A bachelor’s program is not the only option you have after graduation. Far too often, we trick ourselves into thinking that the only jobs available are ones you can achieve with a four year degree. If you’re not interested in investing in that form of education, I recommend considering options such as military enlistment, community college or trade school. These are all valid options that pave paths to careers.
If you do decide to go for your bachelor’s right away, make sure that the degree you’re pursuing is something that you want to do. The only draw shouldn’t be the money you’ll make or whether or not your parents are encouraging you to have a certain career. Not everyone is cut out to be a brain surgeon, nor does everyone enjoy that line of work. The saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” coined by Confucius rings true.
Keep in mind that any schooling you decide to do will require dedication. Based on personal experience, schoolwork in college is more difficult than high school. This is not in terms of volume but rather responsibility. Certain classes may not collect homework or require that you even do it; however, it is absolutely key to passing tests. Just because something is labeled as optional does not mean that you won’t benefit from it later. Put the effort in now.
I will be the first to tell you that the only three parts that mattered in your high school years were your GPA, your ACT/SAT score and the valuable connections you built. Your popularity status, amount of parties you attended and the number of “friends” you had on social media will have no effect on the rest of your life other than your own personal self-esteem. Otherwise, no one cares. This is an important lesson to learn now.
Moving away from the brutal honesty and advice for the future, the most important slice of information that I can give you is to enjoy the ride, while you’re on it. Life will be filled life-changing decisions and right or wrong answers. Sometimes, you just need to take a deep breath and dive in.