Best Advice for the High School Graduate

Graduation can be the scariest day of your life. It was for me. I didn’t want anyone to know how afraid I was of the future. Leaving home, getting a job, meeting new people, and being responsible for my own decisions were scary thoughts.

Too late for, “if only.” If only I had studied harder, if only I had more job experience, if only I hadn’t spent all my money for that stupid car. Now was the time for decisions. Should I go to college? Community college? Enlist in the army? Get married? Be a partner in Dad’s business?

My sister was counting the days until I moved out so she could have my room. My Mother wanted me to be a elementary teacher, my Dad hammered me to get more educated in case I became a widow in the future and would have a way of supporting myself. He was probably afraid I might move back home.

So many decisions at such a young age. What to do? Of course hindsight is the best teacher.

If I was a high school graduate today I would take a year to travel, unless of course I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Travel is a great way to learn self-discipline, self-confidence, and the merits of hard work. Meeting new people and experiencing different cultures creates a broader view of life than sitting in a classroom reading about it from a text book. Visiting historical places to get an appreciation of our country and its glorious inception. A year of travel would give a graduate time to think; to sort out what his/her priorities are.

Keep a diary of your thoughts while on your journey. There may be hints in your writing that give you direction for later on. Most of all, enjoy yourself. Give yourself permission to follow your heart. Perhaps college or all the above isn’t for you. But you will have a year to think about it. What could be better than that?

If travel isn’t your cup of tea, there are other options you can consider.

There may be apprenticeship programs for graduates. A year or two of learning a trade can launch your career and give you security and a base to work from. Quite often there are scholarships available for this type of education.

Whatever you decide to do, remember you have time on your side. Don’t rush into something just to get away from home or to acquire an easy way to make money. You are building a foundation from which all other advancements derive from. Make it a springboard to your future.

We all had to start somewhere. If you’re searching for the perfect job, the perfect school or the perfect salary, it will only keep you frustrated and unproductive. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something new. You never know where that might lead or what doors it may open.