State - INACTIVE

Advice for Modesto-area Grads: Tips range from debt to destiny

It's commencement season, and that means the advice to new graduates is flowing freely.

Many of them, of course, won't hear it. Their minds are on the parties ahead, or their summer plans, or the job they need to land.

So we did some research, asked readers for their thoughts and compiled a list of some of the best advice ever offered about success and happiness.

Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch, speaking to a group of graduates, challenged them to find their destiny: "The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse."

Decades earlier, Anne Frank, hiding from Nazis in World War II, had a similar sentiment: "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

Bee reader Delfina Gonzalez suggests that students always look for opportunities to learn more. "Education does not stop with graduation," she said.

Neither does the importance of relationships.

"The best advice I've received from a college professor is to 'never ever burn a bridge,' " said Bee reader Barbara Grandon. "She had applied it to working relationships. I believe her advice can be utilized in all adventures in life with much success."

Another reader offered practical direction for the high school Class of 2010: Attend a college within your means.

"The day of Ivy League for the common student is over," Richard Ferriera said. "Too many students finish college owing $50,000 to $100,000. It is not worth it. If you cannot afford it, don't do it."

Speaking of money, some very practical matters: Don't go into debt, unless it's for a house. Invest, even a little, in your retirement at every opportunity. Don't need it? Think twice -- or three or four times -- before you buy it.

Not that it's all about the dollars. Ask singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who said, "What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do."

Gen. George S. Patton, not exactly a wallflower, nevertheless suggested caution. "Take calculated risks," he said. "That is quite different from being rash."

Writer Mark Twain, never at a loss for words, kept it simple: "Always do right -- this will gratify some and astonish the rest."

The late President Harry S. Truman also took a simple approach, and one that was just about guaranteed to work: "I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it."

And just what is it you want to do, graduates? I would advise you to find your passion. Follow that. You won't regret it.

Finally, some similar thoughts from President Abraham Lincoln and singer Janis Joplin, who probably didn't agree on all that much:

"Whatever you are, be a good one," Lincoln said. Echoed Joplin: "Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.

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