Advice from high schools seniors

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I spent the past two weeks traveling to local high schools. My assignment was to interview seniors who have overcome a hardship and are about to graduate. To be honest I wasn’t thrilled to be writing six variations of the same story, but I found the assignment to be a joy.

The 12 seniors I talked to had gone through a hardship ranging from the loss of a parent, a pregnancy and depression to learning time management and adjusting to a new school. The following items are five things I learned during this assignment.

1.) It’s never too late to get what you want 

Two students were on a fast track to not finish high school. During their junior year they decided to take credit recovery classes and change their attitudes. One of the students earned 18 credits his senior year to graduate. The other student is the first in her family to graduate high school. Both students changed their lives around late in their high school career.

2.) You’ll have to work for it 

Two students from another school were balancing high school classes, online college classes, community clubs, school clubs and athletics. They gave up the normal senior year experience. On the nights other seniors were hanging out with friends, eating at IHOP or watching a movie, they were studying and volunteering in clubs that resulted in both students getting in to their first choice college and receiving scholarships.

3.) Don’t be afraid to let your feelings out

After the loss of a family member, a student said he was tempted to keep his feelings to himself, but talking to others helped him heal and cope with what he was going through. His advice to others is to talk to someone.

4.) Don’t let stress consume you

During her junior year of high school a senior started to feel stressed. She was overwhelmed by her academics, high school involvement and felt like she wouldn’t be able to succeed. She described the time as a low point. After missing 14 days of school she had to make up all her schoolwork in a one week time period. She said she got through it by her mother and guidance counselor and changed her schedule around so she wouldn’t feel that consuming stress again.

5.) You have friends, family who care for you and will help you

When a student found out she was pregnant she was overwhelmed by support she received. After she gave birth, members of her church volunteered to watch her daughter during the day while she attended high school. Most nights she stays up late doing homework and sometimes goes to school after only 3 to 4 hours of sleep. Her advice to others is there are people who will help you get through anything.

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Five things I thought would happen when I graduated college

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1.) I would know what I wanted to do

I spent four years and thousands of dollars shaping my education in to a specified major, minor and you know what? I still don’t know exactly what it is I want to do. I’m tweaking it as I go.

2.) I would be more decisive

This pretty much goes hand-in-hand with the first one. I would probably be more decisive if I knew what it was I wanted to do and where I wanted to live, etc.

3.) I would have more money

I thought I would have more money. More specifically I thought I would have more money and be buying grown up dishes, décor and food. Guess what? I ate boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner on a plastic plate.

4.) I would travel

And I have a little bit. I’ve been to New York several times since Sept. and am leaving for Fla. next week, but I thought I would do the whole eat, pray, love thing where I backpack my way across a different county. Alas, the whole money thing limits my travels for the time being. Don’t worry I’m saving up for a trip as we speak.

5.) I would like martinis, Manhattans or gin and tonics

Yes, I’ve updated from the freshman year Natty Ice, Kamchatka and PBR, but I still can’t get down on these “sophisticated” drinks. They’ll put hair on your chest.

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5 things to help you get over post-grad FOMO

Fear of missing out hits post grads at least once. Be honest, it probably happens a lot more.

For the most part I’ve gotten over the post grad FOMO. I was living alone in a new state this summer and couldn’t really dwell on the fact it was no longer socially acceptable to run nearly naked  or jump in fountains like it is for college homecoming.

Now I’m back working at a job in the same state as my previous college stomping grounds. I have friends who still live in town and can crash on their couch when I want to visit.

However, I will admit I had some hardcore FOMO texting going on last night. I was stuck in my house for the snowpocalypse for ’13 while Indiana University basketball was having senior night. I watched the game as they fell to Ohio State. I then changed to the Big Ten Network to watch the senior night speeches as Hulls and Watford both got emotional. By emotional I mean they sobbed and I, of course, shed a few tears (several) as well.

After that the rapper Wale was in town for the game and a concert at one of the local bars. Random Tuesday night concert? That’s the sort of thing I miss.

I texted people who were in town and vicariously experienced the game, concert and good times.

Then I woke up sans hangover, well-rested and worked out, ate breakfast, showered and had a cup of coffee before 8 a.m.

As much as I sometimes miss the fun, social part of college there are also parts I don’t miss. Here are five things to help you get over post grad FOMO.

1.) You don’t have to cram, stay up late and insert coffee intravenously

I was talking to my best friends, who is a senior, and she told me how busy she is with classes this week. She has two papers, one of them a 100+ page script and two exams because next week is spring break.

2.) You (hopefully) have a better job than you did in college

In college I worked at a tanning salon and wrote for the school of journalism website/alumni magazine. I made minimum wage at the tanning salon and had to put up with a new side of public I had never seen before.  They did unspeakable things in tanning beds and on top of that I was juggling five classes and a story deadline.

3.) There will always be events to bring you back

Homecoming, athletic games and events will always allow you to be welcomed back with open arms and there will be weekends you’ll be able to pretend you’re back in college again.

4.) Healthier choices

Campuses are surrounded by fast food, Starbucks and bars. It’s easy to be up at midnight and think the fries at McDonalds  or XL coke from the Circle K are a good idea. Also there is something about studying late that involves snacks or caffeine. Being in a different environment allows more time to make healthier choices like purchasing groceries and actually, maybe, sort of allow you to use the square box also known as an oven.

5.) You are a badass twenty something with a badass degree

Recent post grads are twenty somethings, like myself, have a reputation. Washington Post said it was hard to be a twenty something. Some news articles call us selfish, others call us naive. Some say we don’t know what we’re doing and you know what? They’re right. No one knows what they’re doing most of the time but with twenty something confidence and determination you can succeed and be awesome. Yeah, I said it. You graduated. You survived school. Next time you get FOMO think about the accomplishment of graduating college. The accomplishment that will carry you through future jobs. You rock.

xoxo,

recent college grad

“Today, as a class, we t…

“Today, as a class, we thank what got us here,” Sedam said. “Thank you, IU. Thanks for our story.”

I had the honor of going through the Indiana University graduation two Saturdays ago. Although it felt like it was a million degrees while wearing the heavy, black gown outside and although we had to stand for two hours before the precession began, it was completely worth it.  

My parents and brother drove two and a half hours south to watch me graduate.  My father, still healing from his car accident, my mother tired from dealing with eighth graders all week, and my brother who had just gotten pink eye a few days before, drove down to help me celebrate. 

Everyone kept asking me “how does it feel to finally be done with school?”  My answer was always a modest, “it seems weird.”  To be honest, what I was thinking was it doesn’t feel real yet. I don’t feel like I’m graduating. There’s no way I just finished college.  I felt this way because I knew I still had a summer left in Bloomington.  I have one summer class until June and I have a job here until August.  

As I sat in Assembly Hall, among other Journalism majors, I looked around at the 6,400 people graduating only distinguishable by the different colored tassels that indicated various majors available at IU.  Michael McRobbie, IU president, began speaking with an inspirational and comical opening.  He was followed by Booker T. Jones who gave the commencement speech.  

It still didn’t feel real. I watched from my seat on the side of Assembly Hall (home of IU basketball) and enjoyed the speech but it hadn’t hit me yet.  Booker T. Jones concluded his speech by saying “this commencement ceremony is, indeed, an auspicious occasion. You finished the greatest school in the world, Indiana University.”  I joined the crowd and clapped loudly as he said this.   

A little later, the undergraduate commencement began.  Lauren Sedam, a fellow journalism major, stood behind the microphone and began to speak.  Her words flowed out easily, although I knew that it was a well practiced speech. Sedam had interviewed other seniors about their experience at Indiana University and what it meant to them.  As I listened to her talk about her experience as well as those she interviewed, it hit me. I had also had that unique experience. The experience of meeting strangers and becoming best friends; the experience of coming to a school and making it a home.  As Sedam ended her speech she said what all of us had on our minds.  

“Today, as a class, we thank what got us here,” Sedam said. “Thank you, IU. Thanks for our story.”  

In that moment graduation became very real. I do not think there was one student in Assembly Hall that didn’t have goose bumps on their arms or tears in their eyes.  That’s exactly what iU did. It made my story. It made my college career.  I won’t remember some of the classes I took, but I will remember the people that made my college experience what it was.

After graduation I had a dinner with my family before they headed home.  I ended the night with two of my roommates and what felt like all IU seniors at Kilroys Sports Bar.  At 3:00, seniors crowded the downstairs floor (bars usually close at 3:00).  The bar stayed open an extra hour as the DJ played songs for the seniors remaining.  People everywhere danced, sang, and cried together. Sedam was right when she said this was our story.  This moment is a reflection of that story.  A moment when we all came together and celebrated a milestone in our lives.  As the DJ turned on “This is Indiana” (a well-known song across campus)  hundreds of people huddled together.  My roommates and I danced and cried and knew that we would remember this moment.  

I am blessed to have the people in my life who have helped shape my college career.  My parents, brother, roommates, friends, and family have been there for me through it all and I am so grateful. They have made my college experience become the best that it could have been, and because of that, this is my story.  

Thanks to all who have helped shape my IU story. 

Plans might change, but mother always knows best

Today Marks the beginning of my last semester of college classes ever (fingers crossed).  I say fingers crossed, because after a quick visit to my advisor, I found out I have two credits left to take.  Really? two credits.  There aren’t even classes available worth two credits, only one or three credit classes  (thanks for toying with my emotions IU).

My first  reaction was anger.  Not only do I have two measely credits I have to take, but the credits can’t be in journalism, advertising, communication, media, or tellecommunications, or english.  That means that I can’t take any class related to my major or minor. 

My second reaction was frustration.  Because after trying to fit those two little credits in my final schedule, I found out that I can’t because I am already taking 18 credits.    So I need two credits but I cannot add two credits to my already full schedule. 

My third reaction was panic.  I’ve been applying to internships everywhere for the past three months for this summer.  I had hopes of an internship at a magazine in Indianapolis, Chicago, or New York this summer. 

My fourth reaction was _____.  I called my mother.  This should have been my first reaction.  My mother calmed me down from “if-I-don’t-get-two-credits-fit-into-my-schedule-I-will-fail-at-not-only-this summer-internship-but-the-rest-of-my-journalism-career-and-life.” Yes, I know that was a dramatic thought process, but that’s how I was feeling at the moment. She not only gave me great advice, she made me see that I currently can do nothing about the two credits and worrying about it will only drive me insane. 

My mother informed me that if I have to take a first summer session class at IU, I’ll survive.  First session classes start in May and end in June and I would still be graduating in May.  I also have already paid rent on my house for the summer, which means I have a place to stay and I won’t be losing any money.  She also informed me that it’s okay if I don’t get an internship at the beginning of the summer, I can get one later in the summer or I can get one in the fall.  I already have two jobs, and taking one class in the summer would allow me to have the time to save up some money for when I do move.

Tacking on one more class to my other six, would only ensure that I have zero free time to actually enjoy what’s left of my senior year. So what did she tell me you might wonder? She told me to work hard, but also make some time to do something fun.  She informed me that sometimes I worry about making other people happy (i.e. finishing in May and getting an amazing internship immediately) and I need to focus on myself. Last, she told me to make mistakes and enjoy what’s left of my senior year, because whether I know it or not, everything will fall into place. Thanks to my mother I realized that it might not be such a bad idea to stay around this beautiful campus a  little longer.