My Advice to High School Grads

06/01/2015 03:44 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2016


It's graduation season, and time for speeches. I'll leave it to actual accomplished people to say something inspirational and lofty. High school grads, I'm here to keep it real and give you more pragmatic advice. Here are the ten things I wish I'd known when I was heading off to college.

  • Wear flip flops into the communal showers. Or buy an industrial sized tub of athlete's foot medicine. You're going to have to choose one or the other.
  • Your professors really don't care if you do the homework or not. They truly, really don't. But it turns out, that's not the get-out-of-jail-free card you think it is.
  • Everyone is NOT staring at you. Everyone is in a blind panic themselves, worrying that they a) wore the wrong outfit b) said the wrong thing and c) don't fit in here at all and should have gone to State. No one even sees you, because their adrenaline levels are so high it has rendered them insensible to anything but hiding places. Stop feeling so self-conscious.
  • Whites=hot, darks=warm, colors=cold, red = take it home to Mom and have her wash it over Thanksgiving.
  • Jell-o shots are not adequate replacement for the dinner you were too cheap to buy or too lazy to cook before you left for the party.
  • The things that signified coolness in high school may be considered Dork City here. Be prepared to recalibrate, and to send home your vast collection of glitter headbands.
  • When the 2:00 a.m. food craving comes, eat all the cheesesteaks, burgers, pizza, calzones, and fries that you can cram into your pie-hole. Because your ability to metabolize those is going to drop like a rock soon after you graduate.
  • The crap bands that are playing in basements and frat houses? That's real music, because there's no way they're doing it for the money. No matter how raw they sound, respect them for the effort.
  • Things are EXPENSIVE! Your parents may have insulated you from that until now, but when you have to buy your own groceries and school supplies, you're going to get a major lesson in Microeconomics.
  • This one's for the ladies. When going to a party, let the Marine Honor Code guide you: leave no drunk girl behind. If you arrive with four friends, depart with the same four friends, even if you have to drag someone away who insists that her current albeit recently formed romantic relationship with the guy she is currently draped on is IT, really IT this time. If he's a good guy, he'll still be into her when she's sober and if he's not, she can thank you when she wakes up with a pounding headache, safe in her own bed.

And a bonus piece of advice:

This summer, get a job doing something fun that you love, even if it doesn't pay much or anything at all. This last summer before college starts is your last hurrah as kid. If not for your sake then for the sake of all of us long-graduated grownups: make it count.