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Advice from someone who has been there recently

Young enough to be able to relate to the issues that will face high school graduates but far enough removed from my own graduation to be able to look at those issues objectively, I think I am uniquely credible as a source advice to the county students that walked across a stage Thursday night.

First, make decisions based on what’s in the best interest of your future and not based on how you feel in the moment. Boyfriends and girlfriends, especially, will influence choices about your future. They shouldn’t. Chances are, there will be more boyfriends or girlfriends, but you’ll always have to live with the decisions you make.

Second, take financial responsibility now. The financial burdens of college were difficult to handle for me, someone that had never kept a checkbook in high school.

No matter how much you want to put off the responsibility, though, you’ll have to own up someday (I do it once a month when I cut out a check for financial aid payments). If you’re not going to college or your college is paid for, take advantage of the opportunity to save money instead of blowing it.

Lastly, have fun but don’t be foolish. For many, freedom from parental influence means doing everything you couldn’t do while living at home. Enjoy being on your own, but don’t do something you’ll regret. A good time for one night can turn into months or years of unhappiness.