Our Advice To The Class Of 2014

Next week, hundreds of young men and women will walk across a graduation stage and bid goodbye to the life they have long known. The community will come together to celebrate this meritorious occasion as the Class of 2014 joins the world of adulthood and responsibility.

The four public high schools serving the western communities will host graduation ceremonies at the South Florida Fairgrounds next week, starting with Royal Palm Beach High School on Monday, May 19, followed by Seminole Ridge High School on Tuesday, May 20. Palm Beach Central High School graduates Wednesday, May 21, while Wellington High School will celebrate commencement on Thursday, May 22.

Whatever the future has in store for you, Class of 2014, graduation is a time to reflect back on lessons learned and look toward a prosperous future. It’s an opportunity for a clean slate, a fresh start and a new lease on life, no matter what your past contains. As we do every year, the Town-Crier offers some advice to our graduates with hopes that it will help as they walk down the road of life.

Strive For Balance — Whether your plans after high school include college or university, a technical school, entering the military or the workforce, you may suddenly be struck with the freedom of choice between work or play. Gone are the days of high school teachers nagging you for homework, and your parents probably won’t be looking over your desk to make sure you’re studying. It is easy to cast off responsibility in favor of a fun time, but it’s equally possible to get so bogged down in work that your life becomes monotonous and devoid of pleasure. In life, and in your career, you must learn to balance obligations with personal enjoyment. Learn early to set and meet deadlines, to work diligently now so you may relax later and to value experience as much as knowledge. Future employers will want to see a well-rounded job candidate with experience, as well as good grades and great recommendations. Similarly, people with real life experience are often better prepared in the workplace and in life, and it will certainly make you a more interesting conversationalist.

• Do What You Love, But Also What You’re Good At — “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That old saying couldn’t be more true. But in today’s economy, it’s not uncommon for graduates to get locked into a job they don’t enjoy. You don’t want to be one of those people. At this stage in your life, you may already know what your passion is. If you don’t, your young adult years are the perfect opportunity to discover what it is you love. Take classes that interest you, pick up new hobbies, volunteer, travel and try to find something that you not only love, but also succeed at. Employers want to see talent, but also passion from their employees. Find something that lets you show off both.

• Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions — No one expects you to have all the answers, especially not as a young adult. While society may expect you to behave with maturity, you are not expected to know everything there is to know about striking out on your own, your new job, your classes or even how to get around a new town. There is no shame in asking questions, and the ability to ask and learn from others is an important life skill. You may feel pressure in school or on the job to be perfect, but don’t let that stop you from continuing to learn and grow. That said…

• Be Confident In Your Abilities — As you continue to learn new skills, the day will come when they’ll be put to the test. But while many graduates may have the know-how, it is those who display their skills with confidence who will find success. A big part of this is believing in yourself, but there is some wisdom to the old adage, “fake it until you make it.” The more confident and adept you act, the more confidence others will have in you. The self-perpetuating cycle can help boost your own self-esteem and lead to greater success. While you don’t want to misrepresent yourself, there is no harm in a little showing off.

• Plan Ahead — This is something young people often struggle with, used to living in the here and now. While you probably have spent months thinking about your immediate future, it’s important that each new venture you take on is carefully thought about. Will this class you want to take get you closer to your goal? If you take a new job, will it get you closer to your ideal career? Ideally, every step you take in your educational and professional career should be giving you necessary experience for the job you ultimately wish to pursue. But this advice is prudent for more than just your career. All actions have consequences, and it’s easy to forget what your decisions could mean long term.

Wherever your road takes you tomorrow, remember to enjoy today. The carefree days between graduation and your job, educational pursuits and other responsibilities are some of the last truly free days you’ll have. Enjoy each and every moment with your family, friends and community. Things may never be the same, but the future is brighter. Congratulations, Class of 2014! We wish you the best.