To the Graduating Class of 2013, congratulations, you have completed the compulsory portion of your education. Back on May 19th to the strains of the Land of Hope and Glory trio to Edward Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1. you closed that point in your life where you knew exactly where you fit in with your peers. On the 18th of May you knew (or could have found out) your class ranking. You knew who was first in the class, who had perfect attendance, along with several other metrics which your life revolved around. This was possible because your population for evaluation was limited to your class, from now on you are competing with the world.
Many of you are continuing your formal education, so in hopes of contributing to your success, I would like to offer a few suggestions. First off, stop texting. More specifically stop writing in text mode. It is a lazy manner of writing and it will impact the composition skills that are critical for your success in college. In high school your teachers would take the time to work with you one on one when you needed guidance. Your college professors will not have the time to provide that level of attention, and they will expect a certain level of proficiency when you arrive on campus. However if your first writing assignment substitutes “u” for you, “r” for are or “4” for for, needless to say they will form a less than favorable opinion of your preparedness for college.
Second, concentrate your activities in the strong portion of your day. If you are a morning person, build your course schedule around the morning hours. If you think that 9 a.m. is a perfect time to wake up, you are probably looking at a first class of either 10 or 11 a.m. There is no right answer to this question; it is a matter of what is right for you. The days of the school starting at 7:45 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m. are gone, and now it is up to you to make the most effective use of your time at the time of day when you are most effective.
Finally, get involved. Your education is not limited to classroom time, homework assignments, compositions and examinations. You education includes learning to work with people from a totally different background. Some of those skills can be developed on classroom projects, but the majority of those opportunities are found in extracurricular pursuits. Band, choir, theater, debate and social clubs provide immense opportunities to enhance your education while providing a creative release so necessary for your long term well being. Commuter campus life offers additional challenges of P-C-P; parking lot,-classroom-parking lot. Extra-curricular pursuits are also a very effective defense against the isolation that can accompany stepping out of your comfort zone.
Now, on to the future class of 2014. Congratulations, those pesky twerps that annoyed you all these years have left and you are now the seniors. So in this first week of the first full month of your senior year take a good look at your accomplishments. What do you need to burnish, to enhance to make your scholarship applications more attractive to the selection committees next year? Are you involved with your church, or do you just attend? Are you working and saving some money or are you spending your earnings to maintain a lifestyle? What have you done that shows your leadership skills? Captain of a sports team? Section Leader in Band?
This summer is the time to work on those weak areas of your resume. Volunteer to help on a sandbagging crew, heaven knows that we have a need for that kind of work this spring. Look around your neighborhood and find somebody who needs help cleaning up after a storm, then call three or four friends to deal with the mess in an orderly manner. When the fall arrives and the leaves drop organize a “rake and run”. What’s that you say? Simple, take five friends with rakes and lawn and leaf bags, rake a lawn and leave it neat and tidy. Finally, if you are not sure what to do use the resources available to you, talk your guidance counselor for guidance.
It is a cliché, but the opportunities before you are limited only by your capacity to think and willingness to work. When you were in third grade your teacher may have shared this little aphorism, “Inch by inch, Math’s a cinch. Yard by yard, Math is hard.” The same thought process applies to preparing yourself for life. So start working on the inches now. For soon the days will become weeks and months as another year passes and Pomp & Circumstance fills the air once again.
John Armstrong is a Vice President with Peoples Bank & Trust Company in Elsberry.
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