Hump Day: Some sound advice for our fresh young crop of high school grads

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I can’t believe it, but I graduated from high school 30 years ago today.

It was a Sunday. It was Father’s Day. And it was scorching hot inside the J.-Louis Lévesque Arena in Moncton where the ceremony for nearly 500 graduates was held.

How in the world could we have ever guessed how the world would change since then? Pierre Trudeau was still Prime Minister of Canada. Richard Hatfield was Premier of New Brunswick. Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.

Dennis Cochrane was Mayor of Moncton. All but Mr. Cochrane have passed away since that day.

Back then, I think we all expected 2012 to be an era when cars were replaced by hovercraft – you know, like something out of The Jetsons. We’d all eat food pills… none of the real stuff! Robots would do our chores. Money would be obsolete and we’d pay simply by scanning a chip embedded in our brain.

Today, same-sex marriage is the law of the land – something pretty much unfathomable in 1982. The Internet? At the time, people would have simply cocked their heads to one side and asked, ‘What’s an Internet?’ Lady Gaga. Justin Bieber. Cold­play. Taylor Swift. Again, ‘What’s a Lady Gaga?’ The thing is, all those high school students graduating over the next week will be experiencing exactly what I did all those years ago. First, it will likely be so warm in the auditorium that they’ll all be fanning themselves with their programs despite being asked not to.

(That seems to be a universal thing to do at June graduation ceremonies.) There’s also the excitement and trepidation about going to university, moving out of your parents’ place to get a job and working full-time or moving away to start a new life by following your artistic passion such as music, art or dance. In past columns around this time of the year, I’ve posted some advice to graduates. Once again, I’ll take it upon myself to dramatically change the course of your lives (or maybe not) by imparting some of my profound (please stop laughing) wisdom on you.

First, let me promise you one thing. Thirty years from now seems like a long way away, but trust me: one day you’ll wake up and be in your late 40s and wonder where the time went. That’s OK, it happens to everyone. However, here’s some advice on how to make sure you’re in a good place when you blink and realize that three decades have passed since you sat in that sweltering auditorium dressed to the nines trying not to faint from the intense heat.

First up: money. Pay cash for what you can and use credit intelligently. Pay off your credit card every month. Build up a good credit rating by paying everything on time and by not taking on more debt than you can manage. Save money.

Start investing in your retirement immediately. You don’t want to end up chowing down on cat food for Christmas dinner, do you?

Remember: people change. You know the people you can’t stand right now? Well, 30 years from now, they’re likely going to be really nice and all grown up. You’ll be surprised what 30 years, kids, marriage and a career can do to a person. In fact, you’ll probably end up liking them a lot. I know, I know. Likely hard to believe right now, but people do grow up and mature.

When you go to university and end up not liking what you’re studying, change things up immediately.

I’ve seen so many people stay in specific university degree programs because they were too embarrassed to admit it wasn’t for them. Change!

Sure, finish off your courses or even your year so that you get at least get some credits under your belt, but don’t waste your time getting a degree in something you know you don’t want to do. Student loans pile up quickly. No need going into that much debt over something you know you don’t want to do.

If you don’t already know how, learn to drive as soon as possible.

At some point, you’ll need to drive a vehicle either for work or to get to work. Learn to cook. Fast food only goes so far. Learn some basic sewing techniques. Trust me, at some point you’re going to lose a button on your best shirt just before an important meeting and you’ll want to know how to sew one back on. Still can’t sew? Then find a good local seamstress and keep her busy with your mending work.

Learn how to do laundry properly before leaving for university.

If you have an issue with your weight, try and do your best to get it under control immediately and stick to a food plan that works for you. It only gets more difficult as you age to lose the weight and keep it off. Thirty years from now, you’ll be surprised at how ill many people your age are. Don’t be one of them. Do everything you can to stay healthy. Visit your doctor on a regular basis.

It goes without saying, but stop smoking if you do and don’t start if you don’t. Enjoy a drink or two safely if you want, but never drink or drive. Ever. It’s not cool. It’s not funny. It won’t prove your manhood (or womanhood).

So, that’s it for this year. Happy graduation! It’s a new beginning and it’s exciting! Best wishes to each and every one of you as you embark on this new adventure.

2 Responses to Hump Day: Some sound advice for our fresh young crop of high school grads

  1. Great advice, let’s hope and pray our grand-children follow these wise choices. Thanks Brian.

  2. All great advices, but “Learn how to do laundry properly before leaving for university” made laugh out loud!!! Needless to say in goes hand-in-hand with saving money :)