Advice for Graduates

It's really impossible to know the future, but you can know what your NEXT STEP is going to be.

When you graduate, you're sure to be overwhelmed with heartfelt congratulations, and maybe even fancy little books filled with syrupy platitudes about going after your dreams. While that's all good, I'd like to offer a few words of real practical advice for graduates as you make your way out into the world.

Here are 4 things that I think every graduate needs to know.

Four Pieces of Advice for New Graduates

1. Don't be freaked out if you don't know what you're going to do with your life.

You might be feeling pressure to figure everything out, like some people seem to have done. Like your friend from school who seems to have the path laid out in front of her, without having to worry about a thing. This is very unusual. It's more common for someone to not have any idea what's next. A large majority of people change their major in college, or never even use their major once they graduate from college. Plus, people change jobs all the time. You don't have to lock yourself into one thing you think you're supposed to do for the rest of your life. It's really impossible to know the future, but you can know what your next STEP is going to be.

Trisha wrote: As graduation approaches, I get nervous cause I don't know what I'm going to do. The only thing I know is that I enjoy working with special needs kids, so I'm going to volunteer during the summer and see if I'd like it long-term.

You can aim for making long-term goals, but make sure you start with the ones in front of you. Eventually, short-term STEPS will help get you where you want to go.

2. Don't let outside pressure weigh you down.

After you graduate, you may experience all kinds of pressure, much of which we put on ourselves. Ash wrote: For starters, I don't want to disappoint anyone shame isn't exactly a pleasant feeling. I don't want to screw things up for my future. That's the main thing trying not to screw everything up.

Don't let the weight of that pressure prevent you from making any decision at all.

You may even feel like your parents or teachers are pushing you, too. Most of the time those closest to you just want what's best for you. Sometimes it's easier for someone else to see when we're not doing all we can to make the most of our lives. It's good to get their advice, just don't let all that advice weigh you down.

3. Be bold and courageous.

When you're in high school or college you will often find yourself in a cocoon of security because you know who you are and what you're supposed to do. It's easy, once you graduate, to be gripped with fear and insecurity about what comes next. This is why you need to be bold and courageous. If you have a dream, follow it. Explore all your options. Yes, you are making choices that will affect the rest of your life. That may feel like a huge responsibility, but don't let the weight of that pressure prevent you from making any decision at all.

Adam wrote: Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with all the choices in front of me. I don't know what I want to do. I certainly don't want to pick the wrong thing.

The worst thing you can do is nothing. Jared wrote: It's tempting to want to sit on the couch and watch TV all summer. But in the past, when I was a camp counselor or helped out at my dad's work, I felt better about myself, like I actually counted for something.

And remember, it's the people who find their dream, or their calling for this life, who are the most fulfilled.

4. Be patient with the process.

YOU get to decide what part you'd like to play in the grand story of life.

This is the most important point of all. Transitions are difficult, but you'll make it through. You are on a great journey. It's a very exciting time in your life, even though it's a time of great change in your life. You may be used to defining yourself as a student, and when that's over you may struggle to figure out how to define yourself. That's okay. Tens of thousands of others have gone through the same thing and were able to make the adjustment and end up doing great things with their lives.

Remember, you have the whole world in front of you. You get to decide what part you'd like to play in the grand story of life. God's great plan for your life will unfold over time, and in a way that you won't be able to completely control yourself. Do your best, seek God, and trust that He will lead you, if you let Him.

Jesus said something very powerful in Matthew 6:34 - Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Do your best, seek God, and trust that He will lead you, if you let Him.

Are you having anxiety over starting college? Read how Micah found peace in the midst of her anxiety and worrying.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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