By Ted Godshalk
If you are an adult, you can stop reading this right now and clip this article out for your child. Well, read it first, and then clip it. This one is for you, dear Graduate. Yes, this week some of you are moving on, moving up and possibly out, to new challenges and no doubt there are certainly many awaiting you. Space limitations prohibit discussing important topics like working for peace, caring for family, and recycling more and wasting less, but here are five or six suggestions for you to consider.
On this auspicious occasion, Graduate, you may be finishing up your high-school classes, your middle-school work, or even your sixth grade. Years ago this was called graduation now it is promotion for all except the 12th graders. I know you all hear lots of advice from your peers, parents, and teachers. These next few days are for enjoying your accomplishments and not for planning, but add these bits of advice to your memory bank for recall later.
First, as you move on, strive to think about your community more. In this next phase of your life, you begin to become more concerned with the world around you. Why is this? Your independence depends on it. Try to notice the little things and find time to think about them using that old standby “Critical Thinking.” There may be more to that certain situation down the street than you previously realized, and most importantly, you may have a solution. Offer your ideas in public forums. Some adults really will listen to a young person’s ideas don’t write us all off.
Second, have pride in your neighborhood and show it. By setting a good example with the little things like not throwing trash down on the sidewalk or not making graffiti, you are working to increase pride. Resisting the pressure by others to mark up the neighborhood is really related to throwing trash in the can. It all represents your pride. Show you have it and it will grow.
Thirdly, if you are finishing high school, consider yourself to be a lifelong learner with college or university in your future. If you want to take that semester off before starting college, do it. The world is a big place and you must explore it, but find out the date for Spring registration and make that your concrete goal. Southwestern College and SDSU are both excellent schools that will provide you with the knowledge you need to make a career choice. Younger Graduate, even if you are not yet in 12th grade, start thinking about your options for higher learning now. Your parents will want to play a role in this, and you should listen to their concerns. Listening to your parents may not be something you are accustomed to now, but believe me, the old saying by Mark Twain, “My father was an amazing man, the older I got, the smarter he got,” has a lot of truth in it.
Fourth, resist the urge to get a car. I know we (adults) all drive cars. Some of us even have more than one car. We were raised during the times of cheap, plentiful gasoline and distant jobs. Listen to me when I tell you that these automobiles can be a real hindrance to your future well being. Hook up with your new college classmates to share a ride. Additionally, SDSU will have the newest trolley stop next semester. Or look into classes at the Education Village on National City Boulevard. You will save on gas, insurance, parking fees and upkeep. Yours can be the first generation to help reverse this whole global warming thing. If you ride instead of drive, I guarantee you, the mass transit service will be improved and by your example more adults will follow. In this matter, be a trendsetter.
Fifth, you may be about to enter the job market. Why is it called the job market, you may ask? This is because you are selling your time to the highest bidder. Make them pay a lot for it as you are worth it. Please, don’t settle for the dead-end job at Wal-Mart or the ______ (you fill in the blank) store. With you brain and your willpower you may become our community’s next entrepreneur. Always remember, the job you take in the next couple of years will not likely define you as a person. We are all living a lot longer and you may, in fact, have many careers over your lifetime. For today, try out something that you love, working with a passion for the work, and contributing your unique perspective to it.
Just one last piece of advice: Save your money. Eventually you will want to buy a house to live in. You should try out many different living arrangements and neighborhoods before jumping into all that is involved with buying a house. Save now for your house, and for your retirement. This will pay off in the long run in ways you cannot now imagine. I am cheering for you, Graduate. We need you. Go for your dreams!
Ted Godshalk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org