Words of wisdom for the Class of 2015

A few thoughts on what I wish I’d known when I was 18

By Kelly Hockenberry, Columnist, The Times

Dear Graduates,

KellyColumn415RevisedEvery year, I try my best to find something meaningful to say as yet another class vacates the halls of Unionville High (where my children attend school). It is true that with age comes wisdom. And, here is how I know I am sufficiently “old” enough I put a request for advice out on Facebook! I know! Like, who even uses FACEBOOK anymore? My ancient generation, that’s who.

But, listen up because some of them had really prolific things to say. Overwhelmingly, the consensus is to travel, travel, travel. If you have the chance to tour the globe, especially a “study abroad on your parents dime”, just do it. I did not see Europe until I was 39 years old. One foot in the grave, right? I hear ya. Don’t be me.

The second most popular words of wisdom had to do with not sweating the small stuff. Now, I’m going to tell you something that your parents will probably HATE and I am covering the ears of my 11th grader…but, the stuff of high school really never mattered. At all. You got a 4.5 GPA? Awesome. Perfect SAT score? Super. Guess what? Five minutes into college, no one cares. I swear, it’s true. You will NEVER have to talk about high school again. Isn’t that refreshing? Who wants to peak when they are 17? NO ONE. You are destined for bigger and better things.

Now, don’t get it twisted, you still need to work hard and study. Even the “cheapest” college degree costs a fortune and should never be taken for granted. Plus, hate to be Debbie Downer, but chances are your Bachelor’s degree will merely be the stepping stone to a graduate degree. In other words, you have a looooong time before you need to know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Don’t rush it!

Surrounding yourself with positive people who will encourage your hopes and dreams is the key to happiness. I don’t think anyone can prepare you for the moment you find yourself away from your parents and siblings for the first time. It is a little daunting. But, remember that your loved ones are only a phone call (or text) away. You will get through it. By Thanksgiving, you’ll never want to come home again!

Just kidding, your pocket money will be totally gone by then.

The most practical piece of advice comes from my ol’ Widener buddy, Luke (who was a basketball player with my husband and an overall super, nice guy) “Don’t leave your clothes overnight in a college washer or dryer; they will not be handled with care!” And, then there is my friend Ed from high school who had the funniest: “Study abroad, not “a broad”…even though that turned out pretty well for me, too.”

Go out into the world and show everyone what a top rate education you received in this little, rural town. You are more prepared than you realize. This time of your life will fly by! Soak it up and enjoy every precious moment. It will all work out in the end. I promise.

Congratulations Class of 2015! xoxo

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