For the last two years it has been my privilege to photograph Turlock's high school seniors as they walk across the graduation stage. I have seen the tears, smiles, laughter and victory they experience as they receive their diplomas, all through the lens of my camera.
On Friday it was my turn to experience that feeling first hand when I graduated from California State University, Stanislaus with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies.
College graduation was very similar to high school graduation. We wore the familiar caps and gowns, our families cheered from the crowd and photographers snapped pictures as we crossed the stage. The difference between the two ceremonies was the four years of experiences, good and bad, that separated my high school and college graduations. Those experiences taught me quite a few things that I wish I knew when I was a high school senior. I can't actually reach back in time and talk to my 18-year-old self (at least not until I buy that time-travelling Delorean) but this is what I would tell myself if I could.
Congrats on graduating from high school. I know you're looking forward to college and trust me, you'll love it. There are just a few things that you should know before you go. First, don't be afraid to say yes to new experiences. You'll meet a lot of different, weird and wonderful people in the college and they are all worth getting to know. Don't be afraid to try things you haven't tried before. You get out of life what you put into it, so make an effort to meet new people. There is more to college than school so try to embrace the experience.
That said, the secret to getting good grades in college is actually going to class and doing your homework. It seems pretty obvious now, but once you get there you will find a million more interesting things to do than go to class. Just go. And if you ever find yourself falling behind academically, the best thing you can do is just go to class and ask questions. Never be afraid to ask a professor for help. They have office hours for a reason and they actually like it if you ask for clarification now rather than fail a test later.
Be aware of what you're doing to your body. Sleep, even if you don't think you need it. Put down the tacos and hit the treadmill once in a while. Drink alcohol (once you're 21, of course) in moderation. Moderation means two or less drinks per week. Just don't start smoking, it's really hard to quit. All piercings are permanent, no matter what anyone says.
Stay safe, but most of all enjoy yourself! This is a really fun time in your life so relax and enjoy the ride, but always remember that graduating from college is your ultimate goal. Good luck!
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.