I am a strong advocate for taking time to celebrate milestones. I believe it is important to stop and smell the roses and celebrate your accomplishments. It keeps you motivated and gives you an appreciation for everything you have achieved.
This applies to graduations. It’s important that we stop and celebrate when a student accomplishes something as important as earning a college degree; however, I want us to take a second to really think about the significance of the milestone. Graduating from college is a big deal, but it’s not the end of the road, rather, just the beginning. It signifies a step into the real world. Graduating from college doesn’t mean we have made it in life, it just means it’s time to start figuring out how we’re going to use our skills and degree to make something of our lives.
I’m not trying to be a party-pooper or abate the significance of graduating from college, but I’m just trying to remind everyone that graduation only marks the beginning. Whatever you do from this point on will determine whether or not you are celebrated later in life. Fifty years from now, no one will be celebrating the fact that you graduated from ITT Tech or the Ohio State University in 2015. Rather, they will be celebrating the impact you made after college.
As crazy as this may sound, I truly believe some graduates are losing sight of what comes after graduation. Our culture calls for immediate gratification and validation, but it's important to remember that graduating from college comes with a very important question. "What's next?"
My message here is simple and short: College grads! Your accomplishment is worth celebrating, but while you party into the night, please remember that the real accomplishment is what happens next. How are you going to use the knowledge and skills acquired to make an impact on others? What other degrees do you have your sights set on to make your skills more marketable? Don't allow the celebrations, the cards, the gifts and the hugs make you believe that you've reached the top. There's more to come. There's more learning to be done, and the journey to success is only beginning. Celebrate like you expected to be here and get ready for the real world. Everyone is proud of you and rightfully so. Enjoy the gifts and the love, but keep your eyes on a bigger price.
Congratulations to all the graduates out there. Now don’t stop. Go ahead and do even greater things.