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Advice on Life to College Graduates

by Paula Wagner Apfelbach On Wisconsin magazine, Winter 2000

When students graduate from college and go out into life, they may need some helpful tips or advice on how to make it in the "real world."

This advice can also apply to just about everyone.

When preparing for the college life and transitioning into the "real world" students grow into adults quickly, and getting those Online Doctorate Degrees in post-grad seems easier than they've ever imagined!

Advice on Life

This advice can apply to everyone, in most situations.

Trust your gut. It will very rarely steer you wrong.

No matter what you believe today, most of your friends will fall away over time. Those who remain for the long haul are precious.

Honesty is still the best policy especially if it's delivered respectfully and gently.

Having a few regrets isn't such a bad thing; they serve as reminders to do things differently next time.

Sleep enough. Then, when you figure out how, tell me.

Apologize. Enough said.

If you still don't know what you want to be when you grow up, don't sweat it. You can decide later and change your mind often after that.

Listen. Listen some more.

There's just no substitute for taking the high road, having insurance, or speaking kindly.

Live simply. Less truly is more.

Think long and hard before welcoming dogs or small children into your life. Then, if you do, learn good parenting skills and love them wholly and unconditionally.

The Golden Rule is a classic. It has been true across all cultures, through all of time.

Another classic is the one that says, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Duct tape is overrated, but it will hold up a fallen hem.

When the big, bad world gets you down, know that there are many good, decent people out there, too. Life will always be about balance.

I've heard this attributed to Prince Charles, but no matter: Never miss an opportunity to sit down or go to the bathroom.

When it's hard to wake up, recall that it's proof that you're alive. Pondering the alternative will open your eyes the rest of the way.

Create bonding rituals with those you love; the strength you gain may be your only sustenance in difficult times.

Visit a cemetery. It's a powerful reminder of your significance- or lack thereof.

People seldom change. If you can't accept them as they are, spare yourself an ulcer and move on.

When consoling someone, a simple, genuine "I'm sorry" carries tremendous weight.

Work isn't everything. Neither is sex or winning. But holding hands comes close.

If you achieve just one major goal each year, you'll have accomplished a great deal by the end of your life.

Deep down, people just want to feel capable and lovable. If you can make them feel that way, you'll have them eating out of your hands.

Four words: luggage with huge wheels.

Learn to accept a compliment gracefully. A smile and simple "thank you" will do.

Some people do act like jerks, but it's probably healthier for you to feel sorry for them than angry at them.

Go easy on yourself. Some days, you're the only one who will.

Cook something the first time according to the recipe. After that, wing it.

Respect your elders. They really have "been there, done that," and they'd be thrilled to tell you about it, if only you'd ask.

Respect cultures, ideologies, and viewpoints that are different from your own. They have a lot to offer.

Nothing replaces good health. Nothing.

Not everyone likes you (or me either), but that's okay. No one's opinion of you matters more than your own.

Take care of the earth and those who need your help.

Cultivate an interest in the arts. Their grace endures.

Good cooking, polished manners, passable golf, and excellent typing skills will still get you pretty far.

Be who you are. Who else could you be?

Be present. Be grateful. Be awed.

Thanks for listening


These are good pointers or tips for all of us to follow to succeed in life.

Listen and learn

Resources and references

The following resources provide information on this subject.


Paula Apfelbach writes theBackwords column in the On Wisconsin magazine (re-printed with permission). E-mail to Paula Apfelbach


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