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As a 75 year old grandfather, I have had the experience of not only witnessing my own children graduate from high school, but also of witnessing children and grandchildren of my siblings and friends doing the same.

The following is a message to all the graduating seniors, 10 pieces of suggestions. You may disagree with me, but that’s alright. It is just one person’s opinion.

Must You Go To College?

  1. A four-year college is not for everyone. Some people work better with their hands than with their heads. They must be valued as much as people who are intellectually inclined (an early aptitude test, the details of which would be provided later, may shed some light on this issue). Community colleges and vocational schools may be better options for people who like to work with their hands and may be interested in working as technicians, electricians, machinists, welders, fitters, plumbers, and the like. 

There is a chronic shortage of such professionals because most people try to get into four-year colleges. Because of shortage, many of these professionals make good money. Whereas some college graduates remain jobless while being simultaneously burdened with college loans. 

  1. People who are college material should try to get into the best college they can. I know some people prefer to attend a local college, irrespective of how good or bad it is. They don’t have to move out of their hometown because they are so attached to their parents and friends. There are some people who want to attend a college that has their favorite sports team. And there are some people who want to attend a college where all their friends want to go. 

All these are purely emotional decisions which may have feel-good quality but would be deemed irrational and wrong over the long haul. In the decision making process, the head must rule over the heart. Deciding which college to attend is a serious decision that can affect a person’s entire life going forward.

No Need To Find Yourself. You’re Not Lost

  1. Don’t delay attending college or vocational school. I never understood the rationale for the delay. Some people want to travel and see the world or “find themselves” for a year or so before starting college. They can do all that in summer before starting college in the fall. Besides, there will be plenty of time to travel or to do things they enjoy doing after finishing college.
  1. I know some people are forced to do menial, part time work while attending college because their parents would not support them or are incapable of supporting them. In those cases, it’s better to apply for a college loan than to jeopardize one’s grades doing menial, part time work. However, if one has time, one can do some volunteer work of one’s liking.
  1. If one decides to attend a four-year college, what to major in is another important decision one has to make. Taking an aptitude test way before even deciding to attend college would be preferable. This will help one to decide what kind of profession one has the best aptitude for. It can also help one decide whether one should attend a four year college, or a two-year community college, or a vocational school. 

One of the most popular and widely-used tests utilized by high school guidance counselors is “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Career Aptitude Test.”

Self Development

  1. As long as one is a student and single, one must focus all one’s energies on self-development. Developing yourself not only intellectually, but also physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

It may make sense to take part in one’s favorite sports, interact with people of diverse backgrounds, take courses in psychology, sociology, and philosophy (especially, Indian philosophy, which I find to be the most profound).

  1. Time management is extremely crucial, especially, in light of the fact that parents are usually not there to guide and it becomes tricky how to handle all the freedom that one all of a sudden has. Most people have seen the following popular meme:

Everyone in college wants a vibrant social life, good grades, and plenty of sleep. Yet with only 24 hours in a day, it’s impossible to successfully achieve all the three goals. Therefore students have to choose two out of the three goals. A prudent student would lay more emphasis on good grades and enough sleep than on social life, as important as all the three goals are. 

One Size Does Not Fit All

  1. It’s extremely important to learn to think independently because there is so much peer pressure to deal with. It never makes sense to imitate anyone blindly. What is right for someone else may not be right for you. After all, when one has to buy a pair of shoes, one buys the size that fits oneself, not the size that fits one’s friend or one’s cousin or one’s neighbor. 
  1. While making decisions, it’s important to ensure that one’s decisions are rational, logical, and based on common sense. Whatever one decides to do, one has to put one’s heart into it. If it is something worth doing, it’s also worth doing well. And remember, “It’s not your aptitude, but your attitude that determines your altitude.”
  1. Develop your thinking skills through self-study and practice. In real life, thinking skills are more important than intelligence. Intelligence is only a potential; it becomes an asset only if it is leveraged. It is imperative that one learns to think rationally, logically, creatively, intuitively, imaginatively, independently, boldly, and courageously.

Pradeep Srivastava

Pradeep Srivastava is a retired engineer, who currently lives in Albany, California. He has been writing for more than three decades. Column: A Grandpa’s Guide To Getting By - Our grandpa-in-residence...