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What to Do Before You Graduate

By Jeff Henderson | May 4, 2023
What to Do Before You Graduate

Many of you know students who are a few weeks from graduating. These are days they will never get back. With this in mind, here are a few suggestions on what to do before they graduate.

FINISH STRONG.

As the finish line draws near, runners don’t let up. They pick up the pace. They finish strong. You’ve put in a lot of work these last few years. Now is not the time to let up. Pick up the pace. Put in the work. Go to class. Finish strong. You owe it to yourself since you did the work to get here.

PAUSE AND ENJOY.

Yes, finish strong, but don’t forget to also enjoy the moment. You won’t get these days back. My last couple of months at University of Georgia, I made it a point to go on walks and runs around the campus, to spend with friends that I soon wouldn’t see regularly. Life was about to take us in different directions. You can finish strong and enjoy this season. In fact, part of finishing strong is enjoying the moment.

Don’t wait for graduation day to say thanks. Do it now, and be specific. If your parents helped pay for college, write them a thank-you note. They might faint when they get it. Rarely do parents get handwritten thank-you notes. If you have a favorite teacher, write them a thank-you note. They might pass out as well. If college gave you some sort of scholarship, write the school president a thank-you note. If you’re not into thank-you notes, then do it in person.Expressing gratitude before graduation day is more powerful. Gratitude is most effective when it’s least expected. (And let me be honest. Most of you reading this will not do this. I’m not trying to be rude, just honest. It’s rare for people to take time to actually express gratitude like this. Are you one of the rare ones?)

DON’T COMPARE.

Run your race; do your best. Keep your eyes ahead; avoid glancing side-to-side.

DON’T LET WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ROB YOU OF WHAT YOU CAN DO.

Graduation always brings a certain level of uncertainty. You’re heading into a new season. Think about your next step not as an assignment but as an adventure. Don’t worry about what’s out of your control. Be a great steward of what’s in your control.

To help with this, click here for the audio version of What to do Next: Finding Your Best Step when Life is Uncertain.

CELEBRATE OTHERS.

You’re not the only one graduating. Look around. Celebrate your friends and what they’ve accomplished. Tell them two things: first, congratulations. Second, point out one lesson you’ve learned from them. Again, most people won’t do this. Are you most people?

AVOID ENTITLEMENT.

You’re about to earn a degree and that’s a big deal. Congratulations. That said, life doesn’t owe you anything because of your degree. We live in a world where people feel entitled and like a victim. That’s not the path toward a healthy future.

AND FINALLY…

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from my first business mentor. “There’s no limit to what a person can do when he or she doesn’t care who gets the credit.”

Do you know someone celebrating graduation?

Let me suggest What to do Next as a graduation gift. I wrote it to be a helpful guide in seasons of transition like this.

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