An Open Letter to High School Graduates

I remember graduating high school. Back then, the world was new and exciting. Everything was sunshine and flowers. Every day tasted like freedom and you felt like you were invincible. 

I thought college would be like the movies. Endless parties, instant friendships, and constant happiness. I thought I would go to class, graduate, and immediately get a job that I loved.

That’s not how it works.

Being on your own is hard and finding yourself is even harder. There are a few things I wish I understood about being on my own.

Everything You Learned in School in Useless

You don’t need algebra or calculus unless you plan on being a scientist or an engineer. The should have taught you about taxes, rent, and how to save money.

No One Cares About What You Wear

You could buy all of your clothes at a garage sale and no one would bat an eye.

Just Because You Can Stay Out All Night, Doesn’t Mean You Should

Later nights make for later mornings. You’ll be tired all day, not retain information in class, and you’ll be less healthy.

Just Because the Drinks are Cheap, Doesn’t Mean You Should Drink More

$2 Long Island Iced Teas may sound like a good idea for your bank account, but you don’t need more than a couple. No one will question it if you are drinking a club soda with lime. It looks like a drink and you’ll feel better tomorrow.

If You Start Saving Money Now, Adulting Will Be Way Easier Later

Even if you don’t start a savings account your first year of college, putting away some money into a shoe box every once in awhile will be helpful. Just the act of saving some money each week–even if it’s only a dollar, will become a good habit for you in the future.

You Don’t Have to Like Everyone

But you shouldn’t be mean to them either. The freedom of being an adult means being able to make your own decisions about who to associate with. If you’re not a fan of someone, don’t spend time with them. Don’t bully them or be rude. Just separate yourself.

Take Useful Electives

Although Underwater Basketweaving may sound like fun, it’s not practical. Try taking a business class that will help you in the future–money management or financial planning.

You Probably Won’t Stay Friends With People From High School

And you don’t really need to. There are so many new and exciting people out there that will allow you to change and mold into the person you want to be, instead of the way your high school society told you to be.

You’re Going to Change

When you don’t have your parents around telling you what to do, you’ll have to make a lot of decisions. You’re going to have the freedom to try new things, meet new people, and solve your own problems. If you come home too late, no one is going to ground you. You will have to deal with the repercussions yourself. If someone does something malicious towards you, your mom won’t call their mom and sort it out. You will have to deal with it. All of these will shape who you become.

You’re Going to Need a Job

Unless you’ve been saving money diligently since the day you were born, or are lucky enough to have rich parents, you’re going to need to support yourself while you go to school. Find somewhere that has good management and flexible hours.

It’s Going to Be Hard

Sometimes, it will be really really hard. You’re going to cry. You’re going to get your heart broken, probably more than once. You’re going to lose friends. You’re going to be stressed, frustrated, and often sad. You’re going to be scared and lost.

You’re Not Alone

You have friends and family to help you through every difficult moment.

Ask for Help 

If you’re having trouble, ask for help. Ask your parents and your friends. Ask a school counselor or get a tutor. Talk to professors or the janitor. You have a support system, use it.

Find Something You Love and Stick With It

It’s hard to decide what you want to be when you grow up. You don’t have to decide right away. Try some clubs, take a new class. Find something, anything that you love and hold on to it.

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