Straight Talk Advice

Jun 11, 2008

Older panelists look back, give advice to graduates

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’m a regular reader and am impressed with your panelists. I would like to ask the older ones what advice, looking back, they would give to a high school graduate. Teens don’t necessarily listen to their elders, but they might listen to them. Two of my grandchildren are graduating from high school and I would like to send the column to them.


Geoff, 22

What I learned is that adults are just like me. They have the same problems teens have: drugs, sex, relationships, weight, depression, and on. What’s great, though, is that they’ve gone through it and come out okay. They have tons of wisdom to dispense, years of experience to summarize. This is more than a suggestion to talk to your professors/teachers. Socializing with older people is the golden ticket to being successful everywhere: work, college, law school, grad school, LIFE!

Elizabeth, 19

I wasn’t popular in high school. I wasn’t an honor student. I essentially didn’t even have parents. My grandmother and mom kicked me out at age 15, telling me I was worthless, so I worked my way through high school living in a group home. Now look at me: independent, a diploma, a job promotion, helping others through my church, happy with life! I’m living proof that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

Save money. Many teens don’t realize what it takes to just barely survive. Many friends still live with parents, can’t put gas in their car, are in debt.

Ladies: you’ve heard girls mature faster than guys. It’s true. Don’t give away every speck of your heart in your first relationships, only to be devastated. Let the relationships be stepping stones, teaching you what you are really looking for. 

Farren, 20

Leave your drama at home! Move forward, make friends, be proactive. Take a leap of faith! Don’t let insecurities or mistakes get you down, and if you need to change your mind, do it. Don’t let others choose your path. Go into situations with an open mind. Preconceived notions can cause disappointment and failure.

Lennon, 21

Don’t be a cookie-cut person. Do what you want to do, not what others want you to do. I’m not saying ignore your parent’s advice, but it’s your life and you need to think critically and develop your own conclusions. Civilizations developed so we could survive easier, however, today’s materialism has made life extremely stressful. Do what brings you joy and what you need (love, money, friends) will come.

Johannes, 21

I’m a college senior. I play Division I soccer and keep a high GPA. I also party pretty hard. If you’re going to college, the key is balance between work and play. If you love to party, you need to hit the books just as hard and actually go to class. Stay away from white drugs and heavy alcohol use. Keep your body fit. Stay away from relationships that cut you off from what college is for: a place to figure out your boundaries, learn what your body and mind can handle.

Ashley, 20

I graduated and wanted out of this little town. I moved a lot and ended up back here. Now I know this is where I want to be. Follow your heart and trust it will all be okay. If you are somewhere new, reach out and make friends.

Nicole, 18

Most important for me was for family and friends to believe in me.

Peter, 20

Don’t rely exclusively on others. On the other hand, never forget that someone helped you get where you are. All actions have consequences, but don’t let fear rule. Take unexpected changes in stride, they could be for the better. Don’t sweat the small stuff. File your taxes on time. Do the right thing, always.

  1. By Megan, 19, age , on 06/11/2008

    There are so many things that people will tell you. They will tell you to have fun but study hard, make sure to make some solid friends, etc. But truly the one thing i have really learned was to really go for what i wanted. The school i am attending now is crazy expensive but my parents always encouraged me to do what i loved, and i defiantly am doing that, but it was my decision to really go for it. It is a scary leap to make on your own, because that’s what it truly is, a new adventure that you will have to experience all by yourself.  Don’t go to the “right” school or do the “right” thing by anyone else’s standards but your own. This is your moment to say exactly what you think and act exactly how you want. And i know it may sound corny but you have to follow your passion through to the end. It has been my experience that there is no other way to live. You are young so explore everything you want and everything you can, but don’t lose sight of the realities of life and the choices you make. Take the world for everything it has to offer, you’ll find that there are more possibilities and more people willing to help you than you think.

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  2. By farren, age , on 06/11/2008

    I have to agree–it is essential to follow your passion to the very end. I have to say though, that even if you didn’t get into your first choice college, or something didn’t go the way you planned, you have to stay positive! Life is all about new experiences and being proactive, positive and enthusiastic will make it a lot easier. If you go into something with a bad attitude you are only going to disappoint yourself, and others. Remember that your attitude influences others, and being positive is going to draw others to you.
    I have to say that in my college experience, and after high school, I had some friends that really weighed me down, and sometimes even put me down for being accomplished. Now is the time to figure out what works in your life, and my best advice is to surround yourself with proactive and positive people who are going to support you through your journey after high school.

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