#GraduationAdvice @writerSharon #Graduation #College

It’s been a busy week. My oldest daughter graduated from high school Saturday night. I decided to ask some of my favorite authors what they remember about high school graduation and if they had any advice for graduation seniors.

Here is what Sharon Mentyka had to say.

In addition to my personal writing for children, I also work with high school juniors and seniors, helping them improve their writing and advising them as they tackle the infamous college application essay. Eventually, they do all manage to hit the “Submit” button. Then they wait. 

The teenage years are already stressful. Every decision made or put-off can sometimes feels like a life or death choice, perhaps even more so by the crazy times we are living in today. But putting it all in perspective is essential.
If I made a bumper sticker for new high school graduates or soon-to-be college freshman, it would read, “It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination.”

When we’re little, living in the present comes naturally. I was working in my garden yesterday, and my neighbor’s 7-year old son came running over to say hi. We chatted for a bit and then I asked him, “So what are you up to today?”

“Talking to you,” he answered.

If that’s not an example of living in the moment, I don’t know what is. Yet as we grow older, and internal and external pressures mount, this appreciation for enjoying the present fades.

Too often, students will race through their secondary school years, compiling tallies of courses and A.P. credits completed, joining activities to lengthen their resume, taking and retaking SAT and ACT exams and always keeping one eye on the prize of the college destination.

These same students arrive at college only to repeat this process with a goal of admission to graduate and professional schools or to land that perfect first job. We live in a goal-focused society in which becoming a mindful, lifelong learner is not an easily achieved state of mind.

If I held the magic wand for education, my wish would be that students might approach their post-high school years, as well as their day-to-day learning, with a greater appreciation for the long view: It is not about the race to the end, but instead what you learn from each step in the journey.

About Sharon Mentyka

Sharon Mentyka is the author of the middle grade novel Chasing at The Surface, which received the 2016 winner of the National Outdoor Book Award for Children and the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award YA honorable Mention. The book was also recognized as an Outstanding Science Trade Book, K-12 by the National Science Teachers Association. 


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