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“Oh! The Places You CAN Go!” Advice for College Graduates

Advice for college graduates

Advice for College Graduates That Dr. Seuss Forgot to Teach You

“You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose.” If you Google, “Advice for College Graduates” or “Quotes for College Graduates,” you’ll more than likely see this quote from Dr. Seuss. His book, Oh! The Places You’ll Go, is a classic book to give to high school and college graduates. As a matter of fact, I received this book as a gift when I graduated from high school. In every aspect, it is motivational, quirky, and chock-full of advice. That’s why it makes such a perfect grad gift. However, is it all that college grads need to hear to be prepared to enter the real world? My answer is “no.”

For the most part, we as young adults need all the motivation and confidence we can get to start the tedious task of hunting for jobs. But Dr. Seuss advice can only take us so far.

Job Search

On May 14, 2016, I graduated from The University of Mississippi with a Bachelors of Business Administration. I was 12 weeks pregnant, and jobless. When I look back on that time, I laugh because all of my friends kept asking me to go celebrate with them. Tired is not the word for how I was feeling! I went out one night, and had to drink sprite at a party to keep from falling out! LOL. But, I spent the rest of my summer exhausted, working two jobs, and looking for my first post-grad position to jump-start my career. From April-July, I traveled to Chicago, Memphis, and the Gulf Coast to interview for various positions, all while still living in Oxford, and getting bigger by the day. The jobs were not the right fit for me, or I was not the right fit for the job.

However, I knew that I wanted to start my career, and I wanted to be able to financially provide for my child, once he arrived. As I have stated in previous posts, I accepted the position that I have now in July 2016. I made it work! I succeeded and prevailed! Did I thank Dr. Seuss? No, again. If you’re wondering what is missing from that Dr. Seuss book, and what advice for college graduates is missing, allow me to help.

Set Goals

You never know where you’re going until you sit down, and plan out where you want to go, when you want to go, and how you plan to get there. When you get in your car to head somewhere, you already know where you’re going, correct? Sorry, but there is no “driving off into the sunset” after college. If you’re anything like me, the entire reason for going to college and graduating was to one day get the job of your dreams. If your dream job didn’t require a degree, then you probably would not have completed college. At least, that’s how I feel. Either way, the best place to start is with setting goals. My goal was to get a job after college.

Measure Your Goals

When you graduate from college, do you tell yourself, “I want to be a bomb-ass secretary one day,” or do you say, “I want to be the CEO one day.” For me, entry level is not the end goal. It is only the beginning. However, I have to start at the beginning. The best way to work towards that is to know when I want to get there. I gave myself a 1-year, 3-year, and 10-year goal. That way, if I catch myself slipping, I think about where I want to be in 1-year and so forth. Putting a number in front of those goals will help you know if you’re going too slow, too fast, or if you’re going at the right speed.

Postgrad life is stressful, and being a new employee somewhere is intimidating. You might not know if you’re doing as well as you should. But when you are taking a closer look at those numbers, you will see what needs to be changed. I stayed on track with finding a job because I told myself I was going to have a new job, the job I wanted, by August 2016. I set this goal August 2015.

Understand You’re Just Getting Started

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” Sorry,  Dr. Seuss, but success is not 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed, and no mountains will be moved today. Success is a long winding road of disappointments, hard work, and “we regret to inform you.” But success is so much more enjoyable when you’ve earned it. Most post-grad positions are going to be entry-level. You’re going to have to do the jobs that no one else wants, accept low pay, and you’re going to have to earn your respect. But you will get there in the end. It’s just going to take a few do-overs.

Mistakes Happen

In today’s society, broadcasting a mistake online is unheard of. We only show people what we want them to see. So why tell people you messed up? But, if you didn’t know, mistakes happen in every which way. No one is perfect and it’s better to own your mistakes than try to cover them up and make excuses. Did you forget a deadline coming up? Did you misunderstand directions your boss gave you, did you oversleep and get to work late? Don’t beat yourself up over it. Admit the mistake, apologize if needed, correct the issue if possible, and turn it into a lesson learned.

“Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.” Dr. Seuss may not want you to make mistakes, but I’m telling you that a few are okay!

Here are is a few more advice for college graduates tips:

  • Have a resume and cover letter handy
  • Keep your online profiles updated
  • Brush up on your interview skills
  • Do not stop gaining experience, even while job searching
  • Don’t be turned off by working at the front desk. Just get in the building!
  • Ask for feedback from interviewers and employers.

All in all, Oh! The Places You’ll Go is a great gift for a college graduate because it is motivational, it tells you not to be afraid, and that you can do whatever it is you set your mind to. That is all true. But it’s also a book that elementary school kids can read. You’re a college grad! You need more than frilly advice for college graduates and quirky motivation to get you through your post-grad years. If you’re interested, here are 15 books for college grads you can read instead.


-Brittany Bright | University of Mississippi | Class of 2016

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Brittany Bright


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