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New class of leaders hit the road

Compassionate Eye Foundation/John Lund/Getty Images) graduate standing on mountain top
NEW BEGINNINGS: Each spring brings a new wave of high school and college graduates ready to put their mark on the world.
Enjoy every step of this journey called life.

Are you ready to take on the world?

Every spring, a flush of youth is unleashed on the world as high schools and colleges turn out tomorrow’s leaders.

Hopefully by now, high school seniors have decided on their course for what’s next. Not all 17- and 18-year-olds will be heading off to higher education, and that is just fine. Some will head into the workforce, thinking they have a line on their future.

Others, uncertain of what lies ahead, may opt for a “gap year,” taking time to work and “find themselves” before doling out high tuition costs. It is better to find your way while making some money, rather than floundering through college electives trying to set that course.

Hats off to those high schoolers who think they have it all figured out — heading out in the fall to a two-year or four-year college or university, and taking the world by storm. Just don’t set yourself up for failure when you get to that institution and your plan may not end up being the path you ultimately find yourself on.

You do you

It’s OK to change your mind, or to have your mind changed for you (writes the guy who ended up making a career out of his Plan D or E). It may confuse some old friends when they hear you are no longer pursuing the course you laid out in your high school yearbook, but you do you.

Then there are the college graduates who are ready to make their name and their way in the world. Some fortunate ones already have a job lined up and will hit the road running, while others search and wait for a job offer to come their way.

Some fields are harder to find positions in, but I’ve also heard college graduates not accepting a job offer merely because it’s not their dream job or not offering their desired pay grade.

Having graduated with an agricultural journalism degree, I didn’t expect to start at an ag publication, nor did I expect to rake in the big bucks on Day 1. My first job at a small daily newspaper gave me experience and offered me the foundation to start from and grow.

Though I got paid for a 40-hour work week, I was expected to work, much like farmers always have, until the work was done. Being the energetic cub reporter, I accepted that, covering what had to be covered. One time I made the mistake of calculating my per-hour wage for the time I was actually putting in. Let’s just say I only did that math once; it was too depressing.

Enjoy view once there

Every once in a while I still run across a pay stub from those days decades ago, when the annual take-home barely cracked five figures. Add to that my wife was a college student, and we were truly living on love.

Upon her graduation, she landed a teaching job at an equally low-paying parochial school. I am not seeking pity; I’m merely pointing out that neither one of us started in our dream jobs and definitely did not make big money.

What we did make was a good foundation to build upon. The harder we had to work to get to where we are now makes us appreciate the journey along the way. Was the road always smooth? Was the road always straight? Would I have wanted it any other way? Answer to each of those is a big fat “No.”

As we have aged, we look back sweetly on our victories. We by no means live in a palace, but it is a far cry from our first house that had one bedroom and our firstborn’s crib was in a makeshift closet.

So, college graduates, set your goals high and dream big. But don’t expect to reach your pinnacle right out of the gate. If you start out on top, where do you go from there? There’s only one way, and that fall can hurt.

Rather, start at the base of the mountain called life and enjoy every step of that long ascent. The rewards will be much sweeter when you reach the top. Best of luck to all graduates!

TAGS: Farm Life
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