Life Advice to a Graduating College Student

A long time reader that I’ll call “Samantha” wrote to me with the following question:

I’m a senior in college and will be graduating in May. I’m extremely blessed in that I will be graduating with no debt – a scholarship provided all of my tuition expenses, and my parents were able to cover room and board. I’ve had several jobs, including one on campus, and I’ve been able to hoard that money in a savings account. I have a credit card, but I ALWAYS pay the full amount each month. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been provided.

The reason I’m writing is that, for my graduation gift, my parents and I are working together to create a “Wisdom Book.” Essentially, I have asked all of the people in my life whom I love and admire to write down what advice they would like to give about life, love, money, etc. to a recent graduate like myself.

Would you recommend any specific questions to ask?

With regards to the specific question, I don’t think I would ask a specific question at all. Instead, I’d simply ask the following:

What single piece of advice do you wish you had heard when you were about to graduate college?

The truth of the matter is that you never quite know where a great piece of advice might come from. A financially well-off person that you might expect to give you investment advice might have that one perfect piece of relationship advice for you. At the same time, you might get a great piece of career advice from someone you’d never think of as a career guru.

What advice would I give in response to this question?

Follow your heart, always. Use your brain to give yourself as much security and safety as you can as your heart wanders. That means when you earn money, save some of it. Build up a big emergency fund in a savings account, then start investing some of it into the stock market with some index funds. Similarly, when you have a chance to pick up a new skill of any kind, jump on it. When you have the chance to establish a new relationship with someone, jump on it. The more relationships you have, the more money you have, the more skills you have, the easier it’s going to be to follow your heart. If you don’t do these things and take the easy path, you’re going to find yourself throughout your life being tied down to your circumstances, watching great opportunities pass you by, and that will leave you with nothing but regret.

And now, I’d like to open up this very question to my other readers for their comments. Please leave a comment and answer the big question:

What single piece of advice do you wish you had heard when you were about to graduate college?

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