Parents: Write a Commencement Speech

‘Tis the season of graduations and commencements.  And if there are graduations and commencements, then there are certainly speeches.

Most graduation speakers, students and dignitaries alike, work hard to craft a message that is a little bit autobiographical, a little bit clever and humorous, a little bit thought-provoking, and delivers an important message about life.

In spite of the hard work that these speech writers put in to their speeches, most also know that not many in the room, or auditorium, or gym or on the quad, will be listening.  And of those who listen, only a small percentage will remember what was said.  When she delivered the Commencement address at Harvard University in 2008, author J. K. Rowling actually found comfort in the fact that probably no one would remember what she had to say.  It calmed her nerves.  Obviously, graduation speeches are lost on the graduates.

But graduations and commencements continue to feature speakers who deliver advice and proclaim values that could, indeed, become life changing – or at least life guiding.  And perhaps some of the people who benefit most from those speeches are the writers themselves.  It is no easy task to decide what single message you think will most benefit a group of young adults about to head to college or out into the world.

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Should Being Undecided About a Major Matter When Choosing a College?

We ask our high school students to make some big decisions about their lives.  Often, it feels as though, as adults, we switch back and forth between “You’re too young to understand,” to “Now it’s time to decide what you want to do with your life.”  Is it any wonder that many high school students, in the midst of trying to select a college, may feel overwhelmed?

What are you going to do with your life?

As your high school student approaches his junior and senior year of high school, the two questions he is probably asked more often than any others are “Where are you going to apply to college?” and “What are you going to major in?”  For a student who may not yet know what he is interesting in majoring in – and that may be as high as half of all entering college students – answering the first question may be harder.  Students who don’t yet have a major in mind may find it harder to select a college.

There are many different reasons why students may not have a major in mind as they search for a college.  It’s important that parents help their students understand that it’s fine not to have a major in mind yet.  (One student suggests that as many as 75% of students who enter college with a major change their mind anyway.)  But not having a major in mind means that there is one less factor to consider when looking at various schools.

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