A few weeks ago our Pastor asked if I would give a 5-minute talk during our graduating senior service. It’s where we celebrate & recognize the graduates from our congregation. This year we had four graduates; three high from high school and one from college.
Instead of going for an inspirational speech, I took a more practical approach, sharing advice from a previous blog post of mine and ideas I crowdsourced from friends on Facebook. What follows below are the thoughts I shared with our graduates and our congregation.
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When our Pastor asked me to give this talk to the seniors today I reluctantly agreed… not knowing exactly what I’d say.
There are plenty of great graduation speeches out there. I know. I watched some to prepare for today. Hit up YouTube and you’ll find’em… and lots of inspiration. Steve Jobs, Oprah… Even Matthew McConaughey all gave great, inspiring speeches.
I decided I’d take a different direction with my comments today. I’m not gonna give you high school graduates inspiration… I’m gonna share some practical advice… advice I wish I would’ve gotten 27 years ago.
Perhaps, Ms. A, our recent college grad can back me up on a few of these… Don’t worry though… I’ll have a few comments for you too.
First – Let’s talk class scheduling.
** Try not to schedule any classes before 10am on Mondays. This will give you extra time if you’re coming off a rough weekend… or a weekend at home.
** Try not to schedule any classes after 3pm on Fridays. This will get you a jumpstart on the weekend… and a trip home every once in a while.
** Yes. Enjoy your new freedom away at school… but come home too! It’ll be a balancing act when you come home dividing your time between your parents and friends… but always carve out a half hour to visit your grandparents. You’ll never regret sharing a cookie and conversation with them.
** When you do come home it’s OK to bring some laundry with you… but the key word is “some”… you don’t need to bring home every piece of clothing you own.
** My tip for laundry in college is this – Find a laundromat at school and figure out when their off hours are. You’ll be able to do multiple loads at once… and might be able to squeeze in some studying too.
** Stay active. Join an intramural team. Utilize the gym and workout facilities on campus.
** Take advantage of everything your college provides. Your tuition covers more than just school. There are plenty of other activities that, as a student, you can attend for no extra cost. Go to sporting events, plays, vocal performances, lectures, etc. Get a calendar of events from the campus activities board.
** Say “NO” to credit cards. Get yourself a part-time job, keep a budget, and use cash. It’ll keep you from spending money you don’t have on things you don’t really need.
** Speaking of money… do the math on the cost of each class… not per semester… but for every individual class. Trust me, the number will shock you… and will make you think twice every time you think about skipping.
** Do the same things with your books. Pay attention to how much they actually cost. Perhaps it will give you the motivation to read them when you’re feeling unmotivated.
** Find a balance between work, study, and play. Work hard and study… but don’t forget to have a little fun too! The “real world” can wait. Enjoy these 4 years!
** Go to campus worship each week. Campus worship services are fun. They’ll keep you grounded and get you through the hard, stressful times at college… Plus, if you meet someone to date there… you’ll know you already have your faith in common.
That’s it for you high school graduates… now a few tidbits for you Ms. A… as you enter the workforce…
** I know you’ll do this anyway… but whatever you do… work hard. Show up 10 minutes early and stay 10 minutes late… It’s a little thing but your bosses will notice and it will set you apart from your co-workers.
** Treat everyone like they’re the CEO. Receptionist, janitor, someone in another department… doesn’t matter who they are… Remember that they are more than their position. They are people.
I’m paraphrasing Maya Angelou here, “People might forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how they made you feel.” Be kind to everyone. It’s the right thing to do… and because you never know who can give you a lead, a tip, or other insight to help further your career.
** Steer clear of office gossip.
** I’m not sure what you have for college loans but don’t wait on paying them off. Attack them! You’ve lived like a poor college student for 4 years. Keep that lifestyle up for a few more years and knock out your debt… then you can start saving money. You’re young enough compound interest will make you rich!
** Stay in Iowa. We’ve lost too much of your family’s talent to other states. We need your smile and expertise right here, close to home.
For the record… Your Mom didn’t ask me to include that… but if you do stick around I’m thinking she might hook me up with some cinnamon rolls for including it.
To all our graduates… and everyone, really… let me finish by saying… trust your gut… don’t sweat the small stuff (and 99% of life is small stuff)… make friends… be a friend…and remember that prayer is your direct line to God. Don’t forget to USE it.