10 Things Graduates Should Know | Advice for Recent Grads


This year is my 10th year high school reunion. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school! (Like, where did time go? What have I done since high school?) The last 10 years were some of the fastest yet slowest years of my life. It’s the perfect time for me to reflect on the past 10 years and ask myself where am I, where did I come from, what have I learned. 

If you’re a recent high school grad or college grad, I hope you find these tips and lessons helpful.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned in the past 10 years in no particular order:

Higher education is important but a 4-year college is not for everyone: I believe in educating one self. In today’s day and age, there are plenty of online courses that will teach you about marketing, painting, photography, math, teaching, etc. and you can learn from the comforts of your home and on the topics you want to learn about. There are also technical schools and certificates that you can get to help you grow in your career. A 4-year college or university is not for everyone and that’s okay. There are many other options in higher education that can help your life and/or further your career.

You can always go back to school: Life is different for everyone of us. We all live at our own pace. A lot high school graduates go straight to college. Some of them don’t. Some of those who go to college drop out. Some of those who didn’t go right away, go a few years later. Some people don’t go until they’re in their late 20’s or even 30’s. School will always be there. Don’t feel like you have to go to college just because it seems like the thing to do. Sometimes it’s not the next right thing. 

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Your major is not your life: I remember spending countless hours looking through majors and minors flipping through the academic year catalog trying to figure out how to piece different majors and minors together. I struggled with picking a major because I wanted to study too many things, and I genuinely love learning. I was so stressed out over declaring my major for a year and half. For me, during the time when my major declaration was due, the school announced a new major, and after learning more about the new major I became confident in choosing that major because it involved everything I loved. But through that process, I learned that my major is not my life. It’s more about what I’ve learned and how I can apply or use that information.

Make the best of college: College is whatever you make of it. I say that because it’s one of the few times in your life where there are a lot of opportunities to learn new things and do new things all within a campus—meet new people, make new friends, travel to new places. Make the best of your tuition. Seriously, make the best of your tuition. You’re not only paying for classes, you’re also paying for ALL the resources available, so USE the resources the school offers!

Try new things, take on new hobbies: This is just as important during school as it is post-school. Once you’re in the workforce, time is still vital. I don’t remember the last time I was bored post-college because there is always something to do. Sometimes as adults we get lost in the day-to-day that we no longer have time to learn new things, spend time on our hobbies or pick-up a new one. We forget to feed our creativity and curiosity. So, even when you’re in the workforce, don’t forget to invest time into your hobbies or pick up a new one.

Move out of your parent’s house and/or live in a new town: If you can, I highly highly recommend this. Sometimes by surrounding ourselves with new faces and new people, we learn new things, we understand different perspectives, we’re challenged, we find our voice, we have new experiences. If you want just one thing to apply to your life out of this list, it is this one. 

Learn the basics to managing your own finances: After college, I worked a bank for a couple years. I was surprised by how some 18+ year-olds knew so little about their own accounts. I still have a lot to learn too in this department, but I do think adults should know basic information about checking accounts, debit cards, writing a check, and saving accounts. Soo…before you move out, know the basics. (I guess maybe this one is just as important as number 6).

Build your credit: Everyone talks about this but only because it’s kind of important especially if you want to move out and get an apartment, buy a car or a buy a house (and you can’t cash it). There are a ton of resources online about how to build your credit. It’s never to early to start.

Surround yourself with good friends, mentors, and coaches: I always knew this was important, but I never knew how important it was until I was in my mid-twenties. Community is so important. I use to be someone who didn’t really reach out to others or ask for help because I hated being an inconvenience to others. But that ultimately did not help me. When I finally found the courage to reach out, to be vulnerable, and to ask for help, it was one of the best things ever. Find people who will walk alongside you, challenge you, pray with you and for you, empower and inspire you.

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You don’t need a 9-5 job to make money or have a career: In today’s day and age, you don’t need a 9-5 desk job to make a living. If you want to start a business—do it. If you want to monetize your creative ventures or work—do it. Learn and grow. I don’t have much to say about this one, but believe you can and you will. 

BONUS TIP: Travel. Even if you only travel domestically—do it. Because New Orleans is a completely different culture compared to Chicago, and the east coast is different from the Midwest. If you can, make a goal to travel. Even just weekend getaways will help refresh your spirit. (Check out our Travel Guide post here).

Those are 10 (+1) things I’ve learned in the past years. There’s SO MUCH MORE I could write out, but I’ll save those ideas, advice, and lessons for another post.

However, if I could add just one more thing, it would be to pray often. I believe in the power of prayer. And I don’t think you can ever pray too much. 

Anywho, I hope these 10 ideas were helpful for you! Whether you’re graduating, in school, working or somewhere in between, know that you’re not too early, not too late, you’re right where you need to be.

Here are also some journals I recommend to help you get started: Handmade journal from Novica, Polka dot Notebook, and Marble cover journal.

Here are some super cute pens I recommend as well: Gold and rose gold duo pens, Old and wise cane pens, and Set of 5 polka dot pens.

What are some of your life tips you’ve learned post-high school? Share with us below!

~ Sincerely, mainou

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