Bad Advice for Graduating Seniors – or So I Thought!

When I was a senior in high school, my father told me to take typing “because all girls should know how to type.”  WHAT, I screamed.  As I raged on about this remark and swore never to take typing, my mother offered another view. “You are going to college next year right?” Yes, I shot back.  “Well how will you do your papers if you can’t type?  It has nothing to do with being a girl.”

Despite my father’s attitude which made me scream, I did take typing as a graduating senior and my fingers still scream the keyboard at 90 words a minute.  I typed all my papers quickly in college while many pulled all-nighters. Moreover, I made money typing others’ papers from their handwritten drafts. 

After college I took a job as a computer programmer. My fingers screamed the keyboard at 90 words a minute.  As other programmers hunted and pecked their code, I took a longer lunch.  After my IT jobs, I started my own training/consulting practice where once again my fingers screamed the keyboard typing reports, email, and now for tweets on Twitter and discussions on LinkedIn.

Thankfully, I had seen the wisdom in my mother’s perspective.  Moreover, I learned something far more important than typing.  On your life’s journey, what sounds like bad advice isn’t always bad.  How you hear it makes the difference. You owe it to yourself to consider ideas before you make a choice.  This will affect your personal relationships, your team efforts at work, the customer experiences you deliver, the sales you make, and most importantly your life choices.

What colors your ability to listen, assess, and find a hidden pearl of wisdom?

  • Dislike for the messenger’s attitude and other views
  • Your map that doesn’t allow for a detour
  • Internal noise – your thoughts saying no instead of hmm … what if
  • Baggage and bad memories
  • Fear
  • Short-sighted view of life

How many people (older than Gen Y) imagined this online life at the keyboard?  How many including Gen Y imagined this terrible economic crisis?  Yet can you remember your grandparents saying save for a rainy day?  Did you dismiss it as old-fashioned and irrelevant?

Have you ever heard the expression: It’s amazing how wise your parents become as you get older?  That isn’t to say you should cling to the past.  Rather as you live in the present, improving how you hear things can open your life to new horizons.  You may discover an idea that will change your life.  

When I was unhappy with my IT jobs and struggling to create a happy life, a career counselor assessed my picture and told me that I wanted to be self-employed.  I was baffled and thought she’s crazy.  Then I thought, hmm …what if

I explored it, researched it, planned it and did it!  That was 20 years ago and I never looked back. She was right and it changed my life.  Thank you, Paulette Zimmerman, for that pearl of wisdom and I thank myself for thinking hmm… what if?

What advice would you give graduating seniors from high school, tech. school, and college?

I’ll start the list and ask that you add your advice below in the comments field.

  • Learn as much as you can — everywhere you can. You never know what will become a pearl!
  • Build fun and responsibility into your life starting today.
  • Associate with people of all ages – your age, older, and younger. Pearls of wisdom are hidden in others’ experiences.
  • Create your life with vision, persistence, patience, and the disciplined action to get there.

Now it’s on to my next hmm… what if

Update on this post: A couple of days after I wrote this article, I found an article in USA Today by Alan Webber, entitled “Hey, Grads, It’s Time to Write New Rules”.   He straight out says never stop learning.   He has published a book with many more rules called Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Yourself. 

Parents, the book might be a great family read and discussion to mentor your teens and college grads into adult life! 

If you wish to share this info on other blogs and websites, please credit this URL.  I welcome your additions to the advice list in the comments field below and welcome your tweets at

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

Many thanks for your pearls,

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

7 Responses to “Bad Advice for Graduating Seniors – or So I Thought!”

  1. Kate Nasser says:

    I am not sure this time is any more difficult that any other. Different perhaps. But if I had to choose one challenge facing not only Gen Y, But Gen X, And Gen whatever, it is this:
    All that passes for news, is not.
    Cultivate trusted sources and filters. Those who develop the ability to navigate the morass of information will be far ahead of the curve, no matter their age.

    Posted by Dan Brantley
    Provider of “Event Caffeine”

  2. As a parent of a Y I find myself giving this advice: “Face your difficulty head-on. Be direct. Walk toward the problem.”

    Heidi Titchenal

  3. Great post! In junior high school I had the highest grades not only in my class, but in the school (about 2000 kids). When I got to high school, they assigned me typing. Only girls were in the class and I was outraged. I got myself out of the class, from what I thought was sexism.
    When I had a new college degree, everyone asked how many words could I type. I noticed that males my age were not asked this quite as much. It took me a long time to learn how to type, I resented it. I got a job in advertising with my 40 words a minute and got promoted out of typing in about 3 months and never typed again until a few years ago.
    Now I can type, but I wonder, are men being asked to type as much as women now? I am a recruiter, but not for entry level candidates, so I am not sure.

  4. Kate:

    All of it is EXCELLENT advice. But for many young people today typing is just with their thumbs. Learn to type with your whole hands, and your mind. It’s kind of hard to type at a computer with just your thumbs. 😉


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Good one Ric — typing with your whole mind. All forms of communication start with the mind. Glad you liked this post.

  5. Joe Williams says:

    Wonderful post, Kate. My advice to the graduating seniors is to think long term. Resist the temptation for the immediate gratification. Look at the examples of one’s grandparents and great-grandparents and pull important lessons from their experiences.

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