Something you should never give a grade

What's One Thing You Should Never Give A New Grad?

living your best life managing change personal growth Jun 11, 2023

Graduation from high school, university or college is something to be celebrated and whether you’re a parent, a close family member or friend, you’ll undoubtedly be happy for them.

There’s one thing that many people feel compelled to do when someone graduates and that’s give them unsolicited advice about what they should do next.

What’s wrong with giving them advice?” I hear you asking yourself.

Here’s the reason - it’s risky. They may take your advice and follow a path that’s totally wrong for them and only discover this, many years down the road. Imagine how you would feel if that happened.

The problem with giving advice is that it will be coloured by your own values, beliefs and experiences. You’ll be advising your new grad on what you would do if you were them and that’s where problems can occur because at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you’re not them. It’s their future you’re talking about and they need time and space to figure out the direction they wish to take without undue pressure.

I know it’s hard not to share your opinion, especially if you are still supporting them financially, however persuading them to do something you think would be good for them, because it’s what you would do if you were them, can lead to feelings of resentment and harm your relationship over time.

So, what can you do?

The best thing you can do is help them take time to get to know themselves better and clarify what their priorities are. This will help them make choices that work for them.

‘But they don’t know what they want, they’re just floundering around without any clear sense of direction” I hear you saying.

With some tools (*) and time for self-reflection you might be surprised what your new grad might envision for their future.

I must confess, I’m in favour of what they call in the UK, a gap year. It’s a chance for your grad to work and, if the budget allows, do some travel while reflecting on what they really want for their future.

I know many parents feel that there’s a risk that if their child doesn’t go straight from high school to University or College, they will never obtain any level of higher education and that can impact their future prospects down the road. This may be true for some graduates, and I understand your concern as a parent, however in many cases, your grad will take this time to research different career options and have some real-life experiences that will help them understand more about themselves and what they want for their future. After this, they’ll be able go back to their studies with a clear sense of direction and a goal in mind.

If you feel compelled to share your thoughts and ideas, I invite you to frame it this way “I understand that you need to figure out for yourself what’s next for you and I respect that. I guess if it was me, I’d probably consider … (insert a few options that you would consider). However, I’m me and you’re you. I’m sure you’ll figure out a future path in due time. If you have any questions or things you want to run by me, I’m here for you.”

I realize that this may not be easy to do, however by giving your grad the opportunity to think things through for themselves and set their own direction for the future, you’re helping them make choices that align with matters most to them.


(*) If you’re looking for a way help your new grad to get clarity on their priorities, my online, on-demand workshop "What's Important to Me NOW?" can be a valuable tool to support them with this process. They'll have lifetime access to the workshop and can re-assess their priorities at different transition points in their life. I'm offering 20% off since you're giving this as a thoughtful graduation gift. I truly believe that it can help grads figure out what matters most to them and them begin to take action, moving forward with more clarity and confidence. Click here for more details


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