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Column

Advice for grads, even though you didn't ask

By C.T. BOWEN
Published May 19, 2006


The pomp meets the circumstance this evening at six Pasco public high schools, and three more graduating classes will march Sunday at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome in Tampa. The overflow classes and invited guests cannot be accommodated at their high school football stadiums.

It's an accurate indication of how the past four years went at Wesley Chapel, Land O'Lakes and J.W. Mitchell high schools: Crowded.

So with elbow room at a premium, we offer some unsolicited advice to the Class of 2006, which includes 3,033 seniors at Pasco's nine traditional public high schools:

Manage your time. You don't want to go through life like your freshman year when you didn't get out of school until 4:45 p.m., more than two hours after the rest of the student body.

Feel free to seek a career in construction. You'll never run out of opportunities to build schools in Pasco County.

Ditto teaching. There always will be classrooms awaiting smart, innovative educators.

If you're seeking clandestine career opportunities, try police work or standardized test scorer.

Be tolerant.

Don't affiliate with the neo-Nazi movement. There's a good reason the leader of the west Pasco-based outfit is known as Zero.

Give your new co-workers a chance. Telling them via e-mail that you're concerned about their management and leadership skills, before you start the job, is bad form.

Don't lie, boast, stretch the truth, exaggerate or otherwise pad your resume. Initially, this seemed to be a particular problem in sports administration. See the University of Notre Dame and the Minnesota Vikings for proof. But it appears everyone from journalists to CEOs aren't immune. If you didn't do it, write it or graduate from it, don't say that you did.

Don't consider yourself a failure if you don't become general manager of a Major League Baseball team before you turn 30.

Don't confuse real life with reality television. Put down the remote, particularly since the stuff you could relate to, That '70s Show and Malcolm in the Middle, are gone.

Don't cyberbully.

Don't blog anonymously. Which, basically, is the same thing as being a cyberbully.

Work hard. Even if a U.S. senator and potential presidential candidate thinks you don't.

Obey the speed limit. Within reason.

Don't run red lights, change lanes without checking behind you or make obscene gestures at drivers who do.

Watch out for motorcyclists.

If you're in an accident, but not injured, don't pretend that you are. More importantly, don't tell schoolchildren to fake injuries in hopes of getting a settlement.

Do crossword puzzles, Sudoku or other games. You still need to challenge your brain even if your science teacher isn't around anymore to do it for you.

Visit a library, even if they aren't offering online video games yet.

Continue to write even if there is no FCAT looming. Letters to the editor are a good place to start.

Sign your name to the letter.

Don't plagiarize.

Be pompous, obese, and eat cactus.Be dull and boring and omnipresent. Criticize things you don't know about. If you didn't recognize those tidbits of advice, they come from a track from comedian Steve Martin's 1977 breakthrough album "Let's Get Small."

That's how you avoid plagiarism. Apparently, students (and grownups) haven't been paying attention. We've warned previously against the dangers of plagiarizing in this cut-and-paste world. Some - including a Harvard sophomore, who became a published author, then disclosed cheat - still don't get it.

Adopt a pet.

Don't take it out to dinner with you.

Don't drive a gas guzzler. Better still, ride your bicycle or walk.

In the work world, it's only casual day on Friday. Leave the flip-flops at home.

As always, thank your teachers. Collectively, they spent the past 13 years challenging and cajoling you to do your best in anticipation of what lies ahead.

Show them how well they did.

Reach C.T. Bowen at bowen@sptimes.com or at 727-869-6239.

[Last modified May 19, 2006, 03:21:20]


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