We may only be 11 days into May, but let me be the first to say congratulations to all you 2019 graduates. It feels appropriate that “Avengers: Endgame” came out so close to this season. Because graduates, this is the end of an era. There will be laughter, and tears. Chances are you’ll get together with your friends for one last hurrah before you all become "Spider-Man: Far From Home."
Fans of the Marvel movies know another connection to graduation — we don’t know what’s next. You’ll probably keep in touch with some old friends, never again see a few, and make some new ones. Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks — and it’s not the Riddler; he’s D.C.
Some of you are seeing more question marks than others. There are graduates who have scholarships, a college picked out and a major they’ve wanted to study since they were 12 years old dreaming about discovering a new comet or species of fish.
The ones I want to address aren’t so secure.
You’re about to toss your cap into a world of unknowns. I want to tell you that it’s okay. At 18, you don’t have to have it all figured out yet. Although, I know I’m telling you this when most of the next few stresses are behind you — picking a school, filling out student aid forms. But the next few years may be uncertain.
The one piece of advice I want to give you to set yourself up beyond college is this: be practical. If you’re already down the chute to student loan debt, make it worth it. Because I’ll tell you something about myself — I was the first kind of kid.
I went to college with a partial academic scholarship and with my mom working at the University of Arizona to help me pay for school, funding was easy. I lived nearby and I knew exactly what I wanted to study, the same thing that had fascinated me since middle school, optical engineering. But I wasn’t practical.
I didn’t have a plan. I had a major and that was it. Then the math soared over my head and I didn’t get help. I never need help before. I lost my scholarship, changed majors and graduated without a single job prospect. I wasn’t practical.
Even after I graduated, and after the stressful Expedia.com job and scrubbing floors in a nursing home, after the crazy few months writing web content for a chimney company, I found a good place.
But I want better for you.
College can be the place to find yourself, to party and experiment, to chase your dreams. Just keep that all secondary, because it’s all on you after that.
So I don’t want you to worry, but I want you to be ready to plan your success.
Aaron Little is the editor of the Santa Rosa Press Gazette and the Crestview News Bulletin. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org