Many parents are currently passing an important milestone in raising their children, graduation from college. Sending our children off into the world with a diploma in hand is perhaps one of the most hopeful and loving acts we parents commit, never mind the bills we’ve racked up in the process. That’s why we decided to share our thoughts in a commencement speech we encourage parents to share with their graduate:
Welcome to the real world where there are no more core curriculum requirements to fulfill, essays to write, experiments to complete or grades to worry about, just our sincerest expectations that our investment will pay off for you. The world you are entering is no different than what each graduating class and generation before you has faced, even ours, regardless of what the popular media and your peers say: it’s always been in a state of flux and anxiety and beauty and hope and full of opportunities and challenges and roadblocks and joy and disappointments and fear and rewards beyond your imagination. And the economy could always be better, the politics less divisive and gas prices lower.
Although we’re proud of your newfound knowledge, it probably doesn’t make any difference what you studied or what your degree is in because it’s very likely that where you think you’re going is probably not where you’ll end up. Your life will be full of detours, opportunities you can’t yet fathom and people you will meet that will have a profound effect in where you go and what you do. Yes, of course we’ll frame your diploma because we’re proud of your accomplishment, but what it really means is that you stuck it out for four years, got to class on time and didn’t screw up too much (you did, didn’t you?) and that, hopefully, in some employer’s eyes you’re trainable and worth a shot. Either that or we’ll be paying for graduate school.
Remember that you didn’t get here by yourself. Your family and friends were in the cheering section and we were the bankers.Your professors shared their knowledge and challenged you to be a more critical and thoughtful thinker because that’s the ultimate prize. Remember all the folks that made your education possible like the people who served you food in the cafeteria, maintained the dorms and mowed the campus lawn because their labor is truly worthy of your respect.
As you transition from the cloistered college environment to the real world, remember to stay curious because that’s what got you that sheepskin in the first place. Never stop learning and push yourself to stand out in your own unique way. Don’t blend in, blend out. Be generous with your time, your friendship and your talents, as this will open more doors than anything else. Give your employer an honest effort and go the extra mile when it’s needed. When you don’t know something say so and then find the answer. You’ll soon learn that happiness is temporary and elusive and contentment much more fulfilling. Pursue what you love, not what you think we want otherwise you’ll be full of regrets. Never forget that we love you and will always see you as the baby we brought home so many years ago and not this young adult ready to take wings; so congratulations and good luck.We’re turning your room into a home gym.
(Image from honorsadvising.blog.wku.edu)