When I’m not contributing to Thought Catalog with sappy ramblings about love,dating, and relationships, the majority of my time is spent working my full-time job as a sports reporter — covering mostly high school sports — at my local newspaper.
A good portion of my work account’s Facebook feed yesterday consisted of two themes: Justin Timberlake memes, and parents posting pictures of their kids with the announcement of where they will be attending college next year. “Decision Day,” as it is widely known.
I wrote something three years ago about tips I had for graduating seniors, but now a little older (and hopefully a little wiser), there are some additional pearls of wisdom that I’d like to share with the current crop of seniors before they receive their diplomas:
1. Enjoy the rest of high school
You may only have a couple of months left, but you will never have another experience like the one you do in high school. As much as you might be sick of the repetition that comes with high school, use these last seven or eight weeks to soak up every last memory you can. If there’s something on your high school bucket list, just do it. There’s still plenty of time left, and it’s time you will never get back.
2. Build a list of mentors to contact when you graduate
You never know when, why, or if you will need them, but it’s always better to have their contact information at your disposal. Write down a list of teachers who have made a profound impact on your life, and ask them if you can reach out to them in the future. True teachers will always want what is best for their students (past and present), and most will be happy (if not honored) to help you out.
3. Ask people a question before they sign your yearbook
Your good friends will write heartfelt passages and inside jokes that you will remember long after you graduate, while everyone else may stick to the generic, “Have a great summer! Best of luck in the future.”
Instead, ask the acquaintances in your life — people you’re friendly with, but may not consider close friends — to answer a question with their yearbook entry. What did they first think of you when they met you? What is the fondest memory they have of the two of you? Looking back, it will be a more enjoyable read than, “Have a great summer! Best of luck in the future.”
Who knows, maybe someone will surprise you?
4. Don’t stay committed to a crappy situation in college
Being that I can compare almost anything to a romantic relationship, your college experience is no different. You may love the school you picked on May 1, but you may hate it by November. You may hate it a year later. You might not hate it at all, but you know it’s just not the right fit.
If it’s not, get out! There are thousands of colleges across the country, and there’s no reason you have to stay stuck somewhere you will not perform to your highest potential or grow the most as a person.
I look at it this way: You can go on a few dates with someone (college visits) and be over the moon for them, but things may change once you’re together (enrolled) and possibly living together (dorming). If you wouldn’t stay with someone you don’t want to be with, why you stay in a place where you don’t really want to be?
5. Have fun
It’s clichéd, I know, but it’s also the truth. Even though you are young adults, these four years of college will be the last true time you will have in your life to be — for all intents and purposes — kids.
Go to parties. Do stupid stuff. Go on trips with friends. Spend money on things you probably shouldn’t. Because if you were ever going to do it, now is the time. Don’t neglect your academic responsibilities, but don’t immerse yourself with work to the point where college flies by and you feel like you missed out on all of the fun.
There will be plenty of work to do when you graduate. There will be more than enough financial stress you humble you. You could be married or have kids before you know it, and then your life will take a completely different trajectory.
Don’t wish your final high school days away. Don’t waste your college days. Make the most out of both opportunities. When you’re older, you will want to look back and say, “Wow, that was fun,” not, “I wish that I had done more.”