What NOT to say to a new graduate

Real Simple’s May Issue had an article, 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Recent College Graduate. While I completely agree with all of the suggestions, the one that stands out the most (and I’ve heard the most) is the success story.

The article lists it as number five, “My fill-in-the-blank relative just got out of college, and she’s doing great!”

There are several things wrong with the statement. First, it takes the conversation away from the graduate. It was the only comment that didn’t include the word you. Second, you might think sharing this piece of information will give the person hope, but in fact it comes across as bragging. It says, “obviously my fill-in-the-blank is better than you.” Third, it implies the graduate you are talking to is doing something wrong, or at least not right.

College graduation can be terrifying. For most high school students, you graduate knowing you and most of your friends are off to another few years of school, not the big scary world. There’s no more safety nets after college graduation (or in some cases graduate school graduation).

The graduate Real Simple quotes in the article, 23-year-old Rachel Walls, couldn’t have said it better, “We would much rather believe that everyone feels as nervous and lost as we do. Tell us about your neighbor’s son who is balancing four part time jobs –none of which have anything to do with his degree –and assure us that he’s doing just fine.”

If you find yourself without a neighbor’s son to reference, try to remember how you felt at college graduation. Don’t be afraid to tell the graduate you went back to waiting tables or worked at a store in the mall. I did. And I know I’m not alone.