Advice to 2017 Graduates

Published 8:48 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2017

By Glenn Dowell
Dowell is an author and columnist who currently lives in Jonesboro, Georgia. He has been a guest speaker on major college campuses, including having appeared on TV programs such as the Oprah Winfrey Show. He may be reached at

As I have mentioned in a previous column, a few years ago I had the honor of being the commencement speaker for DeKalb County’s prestigious, School of the Arts. I remember looking over the sea of young faces, wondering what contributions they would make in a world that is changing, almost, on a daily basis. These were special students who stuck with it and became a part of the national data base that shows that more students are getting their high school diplomas than ever before. The rate has inched up annually over the last few years, largely because of strides made by disadvantaged students (Source: The Atlantic, Alia Wong, Jan. 11, 2016).

I wondered-what was their next step? We know there is not a definite correlation between obtaining a diploma and going on to college. In fact, the same Atlantic report indicated that college enrollment rates have actually decreased, and for the fourth straight year — all despite massive increases in federal aid for students who can’t afford tuition.

The number of students enrolling in colleges and universities in 2016 was 1.7 percent lower than it was in 2015. You know what? This downward trend of students exploring postsecondary college options has resulted in women now accounting for a majority of today’s college degree holders.

“When enrollments go down, the first thing you lose are the boys,” reported the Atlantic.

A special message to class of 2017:

If you haven’t already, begin your own personal path towards self-discovery. In essence, what will be your contribution to the world?

You should immediately understand the adage: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Pursue the talent that God has given you in the face of considerable trials and tribulations and he will reward your efforts with success.

In the face of problems that leave you dispirited, realize that adversity makes the man or woman and are tests to determine our faith in the almighty. And most importantly, your bucket list should include maintaining an unwavering commitment to family, and to God.

This will be your anchor through the surfeit of woes you may experience as you, too, commit during your life to making the world a better place to live.

Decide today what your slice of the world will be – you can do it. All great men and women have been young before, and probably pondered what it is they wanted to do with their lives. They were uncertain but quickly discovered that failure was just an opportunity for success. It is your world -claim it.