Now What, Freshmen and Fellow Grads? Some Advice From a Recent College Graduate

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When I look back over the past sixteen years (whoa) of education, I find that I have a lot of mixed feelings. I recall that back in elementary and middle school—and even in high school to some extent—all I wanted was to grow up and be treated as an adult. I felt that what I was learning had little to no basis in what I would need to know in the real world, and I was endlessly jealous of my brother, three years older and living it up in college, being all self-sufficient and whatnot. And so I slogged my way through high school, doing my homework, making the grade, playing the team sports, and waking up every morning to do it all over again. It’s safe to say I took high school for granted, not considering that life outside my parents’ house was a little less glamorous than I’d imagined. Continue Reading ›

Pro-Tips to Make the Most Out of Your High School Years


Back-to school is upon us and, for many students, entering/returning to high school can be an intimidating and overwhelming situation. But the reality is, it’s a place where we spend four vital years learning, making new friends, and finding ourself. As a high-school graduate in 2012, I have some fresh perspective so you can make sure your high school years are nothing short of rewarding, stress-free, and memorable. Continue Reading ›

Exquisite Commencement Speeches by Famous Authors


A lot of the literary geniuses who penned the eNotes top one hundred literary works are dead—but a surprising number of them aren’t, and have thankfully stuck around long enough to see the invention of YouTube.

Check out the funny, profound, tragic, and sometimes surprising revelations offered by the authors you think you know in their commencement addresses. Continue Reading ›

How to Succeed in Job Interviews

College and high school seniors, graduation day is almost upon us! What a happy and exciting time. But lurking behind that eagerness to rush out into the world is that old nagging reminder—it says, “You need a job. Like, yesterday.” But how to make that happen? Turns out our editorial intern Matt is going through the exact same steps as you…

Don’t worry, this won’t be one of the questions they’ll ask you. Probably.

How To Land a Job in 12 Easy Steps

Getting a job or pursuing your dreams in a career field is often the talk of many people who are looking towards their future.  As a senior in college, so much of the conversation amongst classmates is about what everyone is going to do once they graduate.  These students are beginning to put their future into focus and consider what they want to do for the rest of their life.  There’s a lot of pressure that accompanies this.  How is a 22 year old supposed to know exactly what they want to end up doing for work?  The problem with so many people’s approach is that it is results-oriented rather than process-driven.  Everyone often focuses on the result of landing that job or working in their desired industry rather than breaking it down and taking the appropriate initial steps to naturally get there.

Continue Reading ›

This is the Real World

And no, it’s not the kind where seven people are picked to live in a house. In our editorial intern’s final post, she tells you all the things you shouldn’t waste your time worrying about in this time of inevitable worries—graduation.

Hi all,

Today is my last day as an intern at eNotes. Because they’re promoting me to an EXECUTIVE POSITION.

Hah, just kidding. They’re kicking me out. My internship has run its course and now we must part ways (sigh).

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. As I walk away from this position and from my previous college lifestyle, I can’t help but feel like scissors are snipping at the ties that connected me to these things. Many things are finished and done. And it feels a little like that painful moment someone harshly yanks the blinds open after you’ve been sitting in a dark room for 5 hours.

Life after college…is a really strange thing. I’d like to equate it to a baby bird’s first flight. That moment you leave college is the same moment someone kicks you square in the back. You start to freefall downwards and it’s exhilarating but scary. You don’t know how to flap your wings or gain altitude because you’ve never done it before, but you’re trying with all your might to do something—anything. You know that you are capable of flight, you can feel it as the adrenaline rushes through you.

I think we are all humming Tom Petty in our heads right now.

When we leave college, we’re free for the first time. No homework, no essays, no school responsibilities. No strict guidance, no tunnel vision, no more college microcosm. We can take our lives in any direction we choose to. But that doesn’t mean we necessarily know how to handle the situation or understand it fully. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to know how to grasp the real world off the bat, or even comprehend it. We’re thrown into it, and told to make it work. We know we can because a lot of people can. We know we can because we have a desire to and that desire fuels us. But we’re young. I’m not talking about age. I’m talking about our understanding of the world and of who we are. We’re young. So, it seems, the freefall is the only way we can prompt self growth, but it’s definitely not the most comfortable of feelings.

I’m undeniably in this free fall right now. I’m actually writing to you as I pummel toward the earth.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve done a lot of worrying. A whole lot of worrying. To me, it makes perfect sense. New world, new life, new opportunities, and decisions that need to be made…these are all things that bring their own baggage—their own sets of worries and stressors. Throw ‘em all together and you’ve got one huge, heavy mess.

There’s a good chance this will happen to you at some point, so I’m going to go ahead and help you through it. There are some things that don’t need to be worried about. But we worry about them because we don’t realize we’re worrying about things that don’t need to be worried about. Let’s pretend like that sentence was really clear and not a run-on at all.

Here are some things you shouldn’t waste your time worrying about, like I did.

  1. Don’t worry about failing. If you’re chasing something—a goal, a dream, a degree, a career—just chase it, with all the gusto you have. Don’t let your mind be boggled by the potentiality of failing. It will distract. You likely won’t fail. And if you do, well…failure is also a good thing. It teaches. The best lessons are learnt from failing at something. Either you succeed at your dream, and move on, or you fail at it, and move on. Both of these things will leave you more knowledgeable about yourself, about life, and about what you really want from both of those things. Hello…this is a win-win.
  2. Don’t worry about what your life is going to look like in 25 years. Mini van. Dog. Three kids. A house. Early retirement. It’s good to have an idea of what you want your life to look like, and it’s good to take action to make those things more of a possibility. But stop stressing over them. Most of our plans are just rough drafts or sketches anyways. Things rarely happen the way we expect or plan on them to. So why dwell? Silly goose.
  3. Don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet. “If I don’t get this job then I’ll be unemployed and I’ll lose all of my friends because I won’t be able to go out anymore and I’ll just have to hang out with a dog and talk to it and I’ll eventually lose all my money and my apartment and my ability to remain hygienic and basically my life is going to be OVER.” Yes, let’s not do this. Half of the things we worry about are things that haven’t come into fruition yet. They’re thoughts. Little puffs of air that we catch in jars and then stare at until our eyeballs hurt. There’s nothing there. Stop staring. Stop it! Be in the present, not trapped in the different futures you’ve managed to paint. If something worry-worth actually occurs, worry about it then, but only then.
  4. Don’t worry about what your friendships and relationships will look like as your life moves forward. Just keep in touch with your friends and loved ones. Those who remain in your life are meant to, those who don’t might turn up again later or might not. We can’t control these things except by how much effort we put forth. So show that you care and love these special people, but don’t worry that they’ll leave you. That just makes for messes, drama, and crying. The kinds of emotion you feel during the gut-wrenching, tear jerking portion of a rom-com. Yuck.
  5. Don’t worry about finding a perfect career that’ll last you a lifetime. This is just silly. In life, we change constantly, and so do our interests. It’s not really probable to assume that a career you pick now will make you happy forever. In all likelihood, it won’t. In order for you to actually succeed at and enjoy your career, you will need to find work based off of what you feel in the present—what’s driving you now. So, with that in mind, there’s no need to worry about finding the perfect career that’ll last forever. Just find yourself a path that feels right for right now. Don’t worry so much about what happens later.

A wise man and renowned poet named Robert Sylvester Kelly (commonly known as R. Kelly), once sang to the heavens these famous words: “I believe I can fly.”

Well, friends, I believe you can fly. 

It’s been nice knowing you, folks.

Good luck.

Hey, Seniors! Words of Wisdom Before You Graduate

As you might’ve heard, our editorial intern Yael graduated last week! Now that the penny has dropped, we asked her to share some advice with soon to be graduating seniors. At the risk of inducing a minor panic attack, we asked her, “what would you have done differently?” This is what she came up with.

Alright…I messed up.

In my time as an adult (3 days) I’ve acquired a lot of wisdom.

As you may know, I just graduated. And with graduating comes lots of “looking back.” Let me tell ya, there are a lot of things I should have done differently in college.

Here are just a couple. Maybe you can use them. We both know, though, that chances are you’ll ignore them like I did, and be thinking the same thing whenever you finish. But I’m trying to help you, here. So, FOCUS.

For me, the main problem was planning. I’m not really one for planning, or for looking ahead. It makes me uncomfortable. I’m here to tell you that a little bit of planning is probably important in college. I speak from personal (painful) experience. So, here’s what can happen if you’re stubborn, like I was, and refuse to think things through:

  1. You may get dropped from your major.

Okay, so I didn’t read the fine print (who reads the fine print?) and missed a key line that said, “all prerequisites must be completed by the fall quarter of your third year.” Ha ha…what? I got an email that said I couldn’t be a psychology major anymore, at which point I cried, and sat (for a very long time) in a pool of self pity and loathing. It all worked out in the end because I am just that persuasive and luck was on my side. But please don’t do this. Unnecessary stress, unnecessary comfort food gorging. Read your major requirements. All of them. Even the ones in really tiny print.

  1. You may not be friends with a single one of your professors😦

I may have slept through most all of my lectures, but I just don’t get why my professors don’t know or like me…

I was not exactly the best student. I tried, I really did. Even sat up front in class. But something about being inside a lecture hall made me fall asleep, almost every time. This means that now I most likely won’t be able to find any professors who know me well enough or who think me charming enough to write me a letter of recommendation. If you plan on going to graduate school, make friends with your professors. Make them your buddies, and then ask them to write you the BEST letter of recommendation that they’ve ever written. That’s what you should do. Don’t fall asleep or yawn in class or ditch class altogether. Then you’d be me, which means you’d be ridiculous. Get it together!

  1. You may leave all your most annoying and difficult classes for your last quarter/semester.

You will probably not do so well in these classes. If you can, you should probably just avoid this painful situation altogether. You will have no motivation during your last term. Studying will not be easy. You will develop anger for anything remotely academic. I suggest leaving all your most mind-numbingly easy classes for this term, if you can. Plan out your course-load as best as you can so that you can ensure smooth sailing through your last term.

  1. You may graduate with a degree in unemployment.

Apparently my university has this wonderful thing called a career center. I’d heard about it but never really explored. There are magic fairies there that help you learn how to give professional interviews, write professional resumes, and get professional jobs. Man, oh man. Guess what? I didn’t go there, until the week before I graduated, at which point they told me “once you graduate you are no longer eligible for our services”. Fairies, why? Take advantage of these services when you can, or you will likely end up like me: unemployed and confused.

As I’m sure you can imagine, this is just a shortened list. A taste, if you will, of my poor planning skills and their consequences. I’m sure you get the picture though.

If you need more tips on things to savor in college, feel free to check out this here post.

Otherwise, I wish you the best of luck. You will probably (definitely) need it.

Have any thoughts on what you would have done differently if you could go back and do college again? We’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment!

The Metamorphosis of a Graduating Senior

eNotes’ editorial intern just graduated from university!

Wondering what it’s like to leave college and move on to the real world? Outlined here are the six phases of graduation… and yeah, they’re just a little scary. But don’t worry, you’ll get through it.

I just graduated a week ago. So naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot.

If I could paint you a picture of what my senior year looked like, I’d say it kind of resembled the Splash Mountain ride at Disneyland. I’ve summed it up with an acronym, “Yjecda,” which I’m pretty sure means “chaos” in Elvish, but don’t quote me on that.

Allow me to walk you through.

Stage 1: the YES phase

Man, you are so excited. You just caught sight of the ride. The line is long. It must be good. Everyone says it’s good. You are getting on that ride. Nothing can stop you. Except for maybe churros. There’s always time for churros.

Your face looks like this:

 Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 2.01.18 PMomgomgomgomg

The start of senior year feels like uncontainable excitement. The thoughts bouncing through your head sound something like, “YES” and “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST YEAR YET” and “YOLO” (for the bros).You’re amped. You know how everything works. You have your friends. You know the ins and outs and you’re just ready to make the most of them. The time is NOW. Like…right now.

Stage 2: the Just no phase

You get to the line, just as the time on that little board of dread changes to “70 minute wait,” and you hear the person in front of you yell something like, “I think the ride broke down.” SERIOUSLY. But you’ve already committed, so you just stand there sullenly, waiting.

You look like this:

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 2.06.12 PMSilent anger

Yeah, you’re over it. It’s probably winter quarter. You don’t want to take any more midterms or finals. You don’t want to go to class because it’s keeping you from doing the things you want to do (like sleeping). The library looks like a black hole. You’re antsy (in extreme cases, this might mean you’re in a rut. Eek…) You feel like it’ll never end and you’re not sure how you’ve spent so many hours and years studying and studying and studying. This is just not acceptable. You may acquire forehead wrinkle lines from excessive frowning during this stage.

Stage 3: the I’m Excited again phase

You may have waited an hour and a half, but you’re about to get on the ride. There’s only one little girl and her father left in front of you, and you’re prepared to take them down if you have to. You’re so close, you can smell the damp walls. Mmm,victory.

Your feel a little like this:

 Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 2.19.18 PMManiacal enthusiasm

You’re so close to graduation you can taste it. This might be spring quarter, or really any time around a month or so before you graduate. You’re just so pumped about all the potential opportunities that await you. You feel free and boundless– like you can do anything you want. No more boundaries. You’re in charge of your life for the first time. AND YOU’RE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT.

Stage 4: Confusion

At this point, you’re on the ride. And it’s really dark. When you start moving, you realize you have no idea where you are or what you’re seeing. You’re sitting in a log and it’s not comfortable and you’re confused why they would design it that way. There’s noises. What are those noises? It sounds like water. Like a waterfall. “Oh my god am I going to die?” So many thoughts. You keep dropping every now and then when you least expect it and…what? Is that a rabbit? WHAT IS GOING ON?

You’re all like this:

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 2.37.19 PMOh god..

This is usually how you feel about 2-5 weeks before graduating.

How did you get here? You feel like a child trapped in some body that’s been wrecked by four years of undergrad. Those memories. All those memories! You were just a freshman, don’t you remember? You’re thinking about when you got accepted, and when you decided to go here. You’re thinking about your first friends. You’re thinking about first everythings. My god, has it really been four years? You don’t understand anything anymore. Nothing makes sense. You think about how time flies and it makes you want to hug things. What’s happening?

Stage 5: Dread

“The drop. It’s coming. It’s coming. I can tell. IT’S COMING. Maybe if I close my eyes. Oh my god. OMG.”

It happened.

Your face be like..

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 2.46.31 PMMeep.

Well, you just finished your last college course. How’s that feel? Like crap. It feels like crap. What are you going to do? What’s your next step? Are you excited to move away from all of your friends? Are you stoked to have to assume real responsibility? Are you looking forward to leaving the university you’ve called your home for the past four years? Are you just going to love creating a whole, new life where everything’s different?

At this point, the answer to all these questions is a fat no. A big, fat no.

Stage 6: Acceptance

Well, it happened. There’s nothing you can do about it. You’re soaked in the kind of water you’re not supposed to jump into for fear of illness or disease. You smell like dirt. Water is seeping into your jeans. “Why did I wear jeans?” Mistakes, so many mistakes. But it happened. Time to go eat some pineapple frozen yogurt and get over it. You’re going to enjoy the rest of your day because you’re at the happiest place on earth. Just got to dry off a little first.

And you look like this

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 2.54.54 PMSo mature. So put together. You go.

At this point you’ve accepted your fate. You’re done with college. But you know your life is going to lead you to lots of happy places. They’ll be different, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be bad. And you’re okay with it. You’re even a little bit eager to get started. It’s just going to take some adjusting, and you’re ready for that too.

You’re proud of yourself because you conquered college, and you conquered it with style.

So there you have it. The metamorphosis of a graduating senior.

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 3.09.08 PM                

Bring it on, world.