DIANE MAKAR MURPHY Advice to grads: Go to college as a consumer

Last year, I gave advice to high school graduates. It's hard to imagine I'm any brighter this year than last, but since I started the tradition, I'll stoically attend to my duty.
Advice for new graduates:
U Learn when NOT to take "no" for an answer. Bureaucracies, such as college, are designed to handle masses of people and information routinely. You will, whenever possible, be read, shuffled and routed like a piece of paper. Sometimes, you have to MAKE one person somewhere care enough to stop, look and finally, listen to you. It's worth your trouble. (This is also true for solving billing problems with credit card, mortgage, phone and utility companies.)
U Commit to something. Don't be afraid it's not the right choice. Heck, you're only 18. But at least decide -- for the time being -- that you're sure enough to give 110 percent to your goal. If you change your goal later, you can always give 110 percent to the new one.
Making an impression
U Wear a suit and tie, or the female equivalent, to any job interview. Brush your teeth, clean your nails, wash your hair and arrive on time. Shake hands firmly, smile, then shut up. You'll start out making a better impression than most of the other candidates.
U As an employee, brush your teeth, clean your nails, wash your hair, arrive on time, work every minute you're supposed to, and never say anything bad about anyone with whom you work. You'll be a better employee than most as well.
U Don't wait for your middle age crisis to drive fast cars, see the world and do something foolish once in a while. Within reason, celebrate life EVERY year -- don't wait until the choice is enjoying yourself or sending your own kids to college.
U "To thine own self be true." -- Shakespeare. Smart guy.
U If you're going to college, figure out what your weaknesses are, then get help. Colleges have study skills and writing centers and disability services designed to make up for your shortcomings. These are usually FREE! Now that you're an adult, you can take the reins on your own future; go before you're TOLD to go.
U Go to college as a consumer. How many movies have you bought a ticket for, then skipped? None, right? But every day, kids cut classes. Keep the focus. You paid to be taught, not just to get a diploma. Get your money's worth (or better yet, your parents' money's worth).
U You CAN make a grilled cheese sandwich using an iron; a water spigot will heat up Campbell's Healthy Choice in the can; catsup is NOT a vegetable; and you CAN learn to eat a peanut butter sandwich without jelly or milk. You WILL survive in a dorm room.
U Never ask a college professor:
Will I miss anything important if I'm absent Tuesday?
Are we doing anything important today?
Did we do anything important yesterday?
Staying healthy
U Care for your health. A longevity study showed the things that affect health in old age most are NOT genetics and heredity. They are smoking, drinking, weight, social supports and exercise. Start out right, and you won't spend the rest of your life trying to undo your youth.
U Avoid debt; pay your creditors.
U Stand up for what you believe in. Defend the little guys. Get involved when you know something is wrong. Don't wait for someone else to do what's right; you do it.
U Civility is highly underrated. Complain with dignity. Voice your opinion respectfully. Have good manners. Follow the Golden Rule.
U Every once in a while, have such a great conversation you end up watching the sun rise.
U Be willing to aim high. Anyone who ever made a huge success of him or herself had failures along the way. Take a look at the distance from your bottom to the floor. That's the furthest you can fall.

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