Advice For Graduates

The typical advice to the graduating class of 2009 does not really apply to the richly varied group of students who will walk across that stage in Edwards Hall on May 15.
At colleges and universities all over the country, speakers will stand up in front of big crowds of graduates and their friends and family in the next few weeks and launch the graduates into the world with lengthy speeches about facing the trials of new careers and first homes and raising families.  For many of the New River Class of 2009, this is their second or even third “launch” into life.
Community colleges are a magnificent microcosm of society.  The students are teenagers that are still in high school, former homeschoolers who have never been in a classroom before and recent high school graduates as well as middle aged displaced workers and imminent senior citizens worried that their retirement plan will not survive them.  So many of these students have families to support (even some of the teenagers), homes to pay for and careers to rebuild.  They have felt the burden of responsibility and faced challenges that so many young university students cannot fathom.  These “warriors of life” have chosen to add to their burden by returning to school to help improve their futures and those of their families.
The route to community college graduation can come from so many directions.  High school drop out, early parenthood, needing time to grow up, job loss…the list is as varied as the student body.  Affordable tuition makes New River an attractive option for those who will graduate and transfer to university to further their education.  These students have often had to work full time jobs to pay for tuition and books.  It is easy to appreciate that diploma when endless meals of macaroni and cheese powered those late night study sessions after work.
Although there are many students in big universities and colleges who have faced hardships and endured trials and tribulations on the way to graduation, the community college student is much more likely to have a story to tell, a reason for being here, a very specific goal.  Each story, each reason, each goal is likely to be as unique and varied as the student body.  For this reason, it is nearly impossible to give a standard message of advice on May 15.  To the class of 2009, just stay the course and keep reaching for your goals.  So far, so good!

About Pam Linkous

Editor of my high school newspaper back when papers were carved into stone tablets and delivered by oxen, I now spend my days unraveling the mysteries of Blackboard (like, you mean my instructor has my paper NOW...I just accidently pressed enter....oh noooooo) and trying to understand how textbooks today cost more than tuition did when I went to college the first time. Despite needing several more hours per day to get everything done (who do I e-mail, Facebook, blog about that?), I still love to write and am willing to take on assignments that do not require staying up past my bedtime.
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