Remember in "The Graduate," Dustin Hoffman's character Benjamin was given just one word of advice upon his graduation?
While there was no "Graduate, the Sequel" to know whether Benjamin regretted ignoring the plastics advice -- or sleeping with Mrs. Robinson -- we do have some advice we got at our own graduations that is worth repeating today.
1. Take a gap year.
The rat race will be there when you want to join it. But first, why not throw on a backpack and set out to have an adventure. Gap years are popular after high school in Europe and we don't know why the concept seems to drown crossing the Atlantic. Not only do we push our kids straight out of high school into college, but we also expect them to enter the workforce or continue their education right after they graduate college. Why not take a breather and see the world or do some volunteering? One of the biggest worries has always been that once the break in schooling occurs, it's hard to get back on the education treadmill. According to the American Gap Assn., 90 percent of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year.
And students who take a gap year have better GPAs than their non-gap year peers.
2. Always pack light.
This was life advice meant in the metaphoric sense, but can also be applicable in the literal way too. There is no point in entering the post-graduation phase of your life with a lot of baggage that holds you back. Leave what happened in the past in the past, and move into your next chapter free of emotional chains. If you need to do work on yourself, now is a great time to do it. Graduations are a natural conclusion to your education. Move on with an open heart and a fresh slate.
"Always pack light" can be taken literally, especially if you heed the advice in #1. if you are going to backpack around the world, you don't need shoes for every outfit. You need curiosity, open-mindedness and a sense of adventure. And you pack those things in your head, not your luggage. The open road is no stranger to people looking for answers.
3. Live rich, live large.
We measure our worth in many ways and money is just one of them. Fall in love deeply, not half-heartedly. Tell your family and close friends how much they mean to you -- every day. Cherish, show gratitude, appreciate. Make yourself a happy life, because if you don't, no one else will do it for you. Buddha said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”
4. Do your gambling when you are young.
They say that nothing looks better on a resume than having a few failed startups under your belt. We'd say, go forth and have a great time and bombs away. Things change in your risk-taking ability when you become responsible for others. But until it's time to pay the piper -- or at least the student loan officer -- the world is your oyster.
5. Once you find yourself, try not to lose yourself.
The trick to a happy life comes from knowing how much you can compromise without being compromised. Back in the day, we called this "being true to yourself." And yes, there is more than a little irony to hear a commencement speaker tell a stadium filled with students dressed in identical caps and gowns that "individuality" is the key to success.
6. Skate where the puck is going to be.
While hockey great Wayne Gretsky is the one who said "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been," it's advice that Apple's Steve Jobs made famous. In a nutshell, it means you don't do great things by staying put or being afraid to innovate. Eyes forward, graduates!