Some valuable graduation advice

High school seniors will be celebrating their accomplishments this weekend with graduation ceremonies.

Let me be one of the many who say “congratulations!”

I don’t remember much about my high school graduation, but I remember the convocation at Northwestern University took forever.

I didn’t attend my commencement ceremony. The whole school was set to gather at Ryan Field, but I bailed to attend a Cubs game. Yes, even then, I knew where my priorities should be.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was our commencement speaker and I didn’t put much stock in his advice.

Had it been a different speaker, I might have actually gone to the commencement.

For example, in 2006 then Sen. Barack Obama spoke at the event. Like him or not, it would have been interesting. The year before it was John McCain and even better in 2004 Thomas J. Brokaw highlighted the event.

Pretty awesome really. Northwestern is lucky to have a long history of well-known speakers — Bill Cosby, Robert Redford, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and even Theodore Roosevelt back in 1893.

Most of them likely had the same message — follow your dreams, lead the charge, enjoy the path you take and reach for the stars.

Sound about right?

How about some things they don’t tell you in those inspirational speeches.

• Maintaining your integrity in a competitive world is not always easy, but it is worth it.
• The real world is nothing like you imagine it. Rent is high, even for crappy apartments.
Jobs are scarce, and jobs that actually apply to your college major are nearly extinct. People won’t always give you a second chance or the benefit of the doubt.
• Having to live at home with your parents may be cheaper, but will not help you find “the one.”
• Managing your personal budget without scholarships, loans or a paycheck gets really hard, really fast.
• All of that networking you thought was just a way to waste time during job fairs will really pay off.
• You will HAVE to step outside your comfort zone to achieve anything worthwhile.
I know this isn’t the most upbeat graduation advice, but I wish somebody had told me all these things when I was graduating.
I knew some of those tidbits were probably true, but I didn’t really think about them.
But being naive probably helped me stay optimistic when two weeks before graduation, I accepted a job in Sheridan without a place to live or a single clue on what life in the rural West would bring.

About

Kristen Czaban

Kristen Czaban joined The Sheridan Press staff in 2008 and covered beats including local government, cops and courts and the energy industry. In 2012, she was promoted and now serves as the managing editor for The Press. Czaban has a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

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