Unsolicited Advice For The Class Of 2012

Last week, we discussed how bad decisions on graduation night could forever ruin the lives of high school seniors. Now we’d like to focus on the decisions they’ll make after they’ve walked the stage and donned their cap and gown. As we do each year, the Town-Crier offers advice for these young men and women as they venture out into the next stage of their lives:

• Don’t rush ahead — As a new graduate, the sudden transformation from high school student to member of the real world can be overwhelming. Because of this, it may be difficult to find the proper perspective. The possibilities are endless, and the thought of having to choose a single path is not easy. If you have your dreams set in stone, more power to you. But if you’re like most students who need to explore a little, by all means, explore. Just be sure to not paint yourself into a corner by making any brash decisions. For instance, if you’re interested in art but not sure you want it to be your life, enrolling in art school probably isn’t the smartest thing to do. You can take art courses at any college, and if later on you find it is your life’s calling, you can further your education then.

• Make your own decisions — It may be tempting to follow your friends to wherever they plan on going after high school, but this is not a good long-term decision. Sure, it would be nice to have your best friend as a dorm mate, but unless you’re also getting the education you need, you’ll be in for a rude awakening in a few years. Besides, meeting new friends is one of great things about college. And it’s a lot easier than it was in high school. Also, though we don’t mean to ruffle any familial feathers, this is not your parents’ choice. We strongly recommend taking their advice — especially if your plans have anything to do with “making it big” in Los Angeles or some such fantasy — but if you don’t see eye to eye on the matter, it’s important to have a conversation about it.

• Act responsibly — This holds especially true for college students: The new-found sense of freedom you’ll have can make your life more difficult if you don’t get a grip on it. If you’re expecting it to be like a raucous college movie you’ve seen, be prepared to deal with the consequences. Again, it all goes back to long-term goals.

• Take an internship — For all the important things you’ll learn in college or trade school, nothing beats first-hand experience with a real company. Though this isn’t an option for everyone, it’s a very useful way to build your skills, add to your résumé or, conversely, learn if a particular vocation isn’t what you hoped it would be.

Whatever you decide to do after graduation, go at it 100 percent. Be passionate. “Follow your dreams” may sound cliché, but it’s one of the most important bits of advice you’ll get. Congratulations, Class of 2012. Now go out there and change the world!