Graduation Announcements Signal Thoughtful Advice to Grads

Graduation season is in full swing at many college campuses around the country. This year’s grads enter a precarious job market, and the jury is still out as to which direction the economy, and therefore job hiring, will go for them.

If you have a graduation announcement or graduation party invitation in hand, think a bit beforehand about constructive things you might ask of a 2011 graduate’s future. Avoid questions that put a graduate in a defensive position, or worse, sew doubt at a time when they deserve to enjoy their achievement.

In an article published in the May issue of Real Simple, “5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To a Recent College Graduate,” real-life experts weigh in on the doubt, insecurity and defensiveness certain commonly asked questions create in a grad’s mind. They offer some alternatives instead:

What can you do with THAT degree? A classic! Often asked of the liberal arts graduate, a better question would be: “What have you learned that will help you do what you enjoy?” Also noted should be the fact that today’s ever-evolving job market provides opportunities for progressive thinking, entrepreneurial, adaptable grads who are willing to think critically and creatively.

You should go to Law School. Pretty presumptuous. The thing is, a lot of law schools can’t be sure just how many of their first-year students are there simply because they haven’t figured out what else to do. It’s an expensive way to go. Unless you yourself are a lawyer basking in the passion of your work, better not suggest something you didn’t do either.

Do you have a job lined up? Only a small percentage of college seniors, historically mostly finance majors, find themselves employed at matriculation. A better question might be what kind of networking they are doing to see if you can be of help.

The economy has been bad before. You’ll get through it. Such sugar-coating doesn’t help an eager grad anxious to launch a career. The article suggests focusing on what they can control, such as their professional image on social media networking sites like LinkedIn.

My [fill-in-the-blank] relative just got out of college and she’s doing great! The next part of the question would be: “so what are YOU doing wrong?” Listening to someone else’s fabulous story really only serves to make a grad feel a bit like a loser. Balance well-meaning success stories with stories of struggle to acknowledge reality.

With thoughtfulness and consideration for the changing world and uncertain job market, your recognition of a college graduate’s achievement and support of their future endeavors, whatever they may be, is really all that’s needed!

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