The BLOG: Voices

13 necessary pieces of advice for graduates

1) Most of you can’t wait to get to college, to a job, and get away from you’re your high school classmates. But I urge you to stay in touch. Believe it or not, your most lasting friendship have been made here. They know you and you know them in a depth that only your parents and the person you end up marrying do. So, go to all reunions. Reunions are fascinating events. You’ll be amazed how much your friends have imported — and people you are convinced now are total jerks will amaze you.

2) Don’t ever, ever talk about being on a diet!

3) Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. And don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

4) Do one thing every day that is new, ideally something that scares you.

5) Be nice to nerds. You’ll probably be working for one.

6) Listen to your college professors, but don’t take them too seriously. Most of them have never held a real job, met a payroll or lived much outside the cocoon that is a university. Chances are your parents have more wisdom about the real world than 95 percent of them.

7) And get to know your parents. Soon you’ll have a new relationship with them. They’ll be relaxed. You’ll have a little distance. You’ll be surprised how interesting they have become.

8) Floss.

9) Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. By all means, travel.

10) Consider being a teacher. If you become one, you’ll never have to worry whether or not you’re doing significant, life changing work.

11) Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in time, place and life style, because the older you get, the more you will need the people who knew you when you were young.

12) Develop at least one skill that makes you unique and gives pleasure to you and others. For instance, learn how to tell a good joke. Or remember people’s birthdays. Or teach yourself to play the banjo

13) The most important thing in life is deciding what is the most important thing in life.

Kevin Ryan is a writer, former teacher, and the editor, with Marilyn Ryan, of Why I’m Still A Catholic.