I've been thinking about ... graduation.
My staff and I attend most of the Carroll County high school award ceremonies each year but few graduations. Those we have attended have been by invitation only. I'm always interested to hear what advice the guest speaker has to offer the new graduates. Quite often, it is pretty general stuff. You are the leaders of tomorrow or the world is yours to conquer, that kind of thing.
Given the opportunity I have often wondered what I would have to say to them. I hope it would be kind but include a healthy dose of reality, so please indulge my fantasy.
For those of you who have enlisted in the military, thank you for your service to us all. My grandson spent two years of his four-year enlistment as a fireman on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. He is now in college paid for by the Navy. Many people leave the military with marketable skills. The musicians among you, both vocal and instrumental, should give the military a look as well.
Those of you headed for your first real job, never give up the thought of taking courses to enhance and improve skills at our first-rate community college. And speaking of Carroll Community College, it is an excellent way of doing the first two years of a Bachelor's degree. Given the cost of any four-year college or university, starting at Carroll Community College will amount to a huge savings. By the way, Carroll Community College graduates are gladly accepted by schools all over the country.
I would advise those moving on to a four-year college as follows: Have a plan. Even though it will probably change many times before you graduate, have one. Take courses that will advance your plan.
You should budget time in your schedule for studying. If you are having difficulty with a course ask for help sooner rather than later. The professor or a graduate student will help you.
Choose your friends very carefully. Many people away from home and parental scrutiny for the first time, don't handle it well. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, leave it.
Always attend class. Always read the assigned materials. Don't forget to eat. Turn in assignments on time. What with spell and grammar check, there is no excuse for those mistakes.
Call home on a regular basis. Instant messaging and texting are not communicating. They want to hear your voice.
Go to church, synagogue or mosque.
Know and understand the biases of your school. If there are student protests, be sure you understand the issues involved.
I recently read about a student demonstration at a major university that claimed colleges and universities provide a service (read that as an education) for a fee (read that as tuition, room and board). Therefore, they demanded that no student should ever receive a grade lower than a C, notwithstanding performance. What? How would you like to have that C student be your doctor, lawyer, accountant or your future child's teacher?
Back to reality. I understand that most graduating Carroll County high school seniors are probably not reading this column (read that as diatribe), but if you are a parent or grandparent of one you could direct them to the online version or print it out and hand it to them. Only if you agree with me, of course.
Congratulations and good luck to all of our Carroll County graduates.
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Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.