Words for the grads

It’s graduation season and time for all that advice designed to send students on in life with something to think about.

It’s graduation season and time for all that advice designed to send students on in life with something to think about.

Thanks to the Web, it’s possible to find a lot of these sage remarks. Unfortunately, not everything supposedly said at graduation commencements actually was said by featured speakers. Most of the “famous” ones that float around the Web are, in fact, false. Nevertheless, there is some good advice, even if it may have been thought up by a satirical writer and attributed to someone else.

Let’s start with Bill Gates.

The word is that Gates authored a list of “Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School” and gave it at a graduation speech at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, California.

He didn’t. In fact, the list of 14 things is the work of Charles J. Sykes, author of the book “Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, Or Add.”

However, there’s some worthwhile advice there. Here are a couple of Sykes’ “rules” I like:

Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it.

Rule No. 2: The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait ‘til you get a boss.

Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity.

Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t.

Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic.

Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.)

I actually have faith that graduates (both high school and college) are well-equipped to take on life. (They better be since they will be taking care of me, too.) Curriculums are more demanding and students are taking on more and more classes and activities.

There’s one more piece of advice I’ll pass along. This next one supposedly is from a 1997 Kurt Vonnegut commencement address at MIT. It isn’t – it actually comes from a June 1, 1997 column by Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich, but it’s still worthwhile.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ‘97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

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