Dear Class of 2022: Here’s some good advice to follow. Or not.

We asked Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers to give their best advice to the class of 2022, teens who lived through a worldwide pandemic that dramatically upended their high school experience and likely their faith that adults understand science.  (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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We asked Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers to give their best advice to the class of 2022, teens who lived through a worldwide pandemic that dramatically upended their high school experience and likely their faith that adults understand science. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

A few years ago, a local high school asked me to speak at graduation, an offer I declined as one of my own children was graduating that same weekend. I was glad for a legitimate excuse because I had no idea what to tell young people about to start their adult lives.

For every piece of advice, I could easily go in the opposite direction. Part of me would urge students to follow their hearts and backpack the Pacific Crest Trail or traipse through Europe before or after college. But my more sensible side would caution not for too long as the job market can be leery of gaps in resumes.

Remember that family should be at the center of your life, but keep in mind your children will grow up, move to Denver and ignore your texts — except to mock your wrong choice of emoji. Dance when the mood strikes but close the blinds if it’s right out of the shower. Trust the universe, just don’t loan your cellphone to a guy who then hacks into your Venmo to send himself $3,000.

One final tip from me: Your own voice and intuition may be the most trustworthy and dependable of all.

I asked Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers to give their best advice to the class of 2022, teens who lived through a worldwide pandemic that dramatically upended their high school experience and likely their faith that adults understand science. On its social media page, the state Department of Education also solicited advice for Georgia high school grads.

ExplorePhotos and stories from Atlanta graduations in 2022

Here is a sampling of all the advice offered:

- In college, sit at the front of the class. Never skip class no matter how tired/hungover/overwhelmed you are.

- Pay your credit card in full every month and don’t buy things for which you can’t pay. Make interest, don’t pay interest.

- Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

- Do your research before you vote and vote all the way down the ballot.

- Vote for the world you want to live in.

- Be on time.

- Remember that true education is learning how to learn and using that skill in all areas of life, not just the classroom. Being able to learn, knowing how to be curious, and how to find all the pieces and put them together will serve you well the rest of your life. And, yes, the core classes are key in the process.

- Be kind.

- Partying in the school parking lot is a must. Do not miss it.

- Move to a saner country.

- As soon as you start working (hopefully, at a job you love), start investing in a 401(k).

- You don’t have to have a fancy degree behind your name to be successful. It’s OK to want to work with your hands.

- If going to college, read the syllabus, realize that “do-overs” and extra credit are likely things of the past, and don’t decide to improve your grade at the end of the semester, be pro-active early. And enjoy the college experience. (I am a professor at UGA.)

- Listen to science and learn to travel light.

- If you have a uterus, get an IUD now before they try and make them illegal, too.

- When you choose a profession, make it something interesting (not just financially rewarding) that gets you out of bed each day.

- Focus on degrees that are in demand, including engineering, computer science, finance, accounting, and other STEM or business areas. Or go to a technical school and learn a trade.

- When the UGA department of political science assures you that there are plenty of jobs, walk in the other direction.

- Some days you will want to curl up in a ball but get back out there and keep fighting.

- Floss the teeth you want to keep.

- Don’t go into teaching … or move overseas to do it.

- You cannot wear athletic wear to everything.

- You can do this a lot better than adults showed you.

- Wear sunscreen and cut back on sugar.

- Get a passport, even if you don’t have any immediate plans to travel.

- Don’t stop reading. Make it a cherished habit. Read old books. New books. Read books written by authors unlike you. Discover new worlds but also discover how much is not new at all.

- Never stop learning.

- We learn from our mistakes. Don’t give up when things get hard. Grit and challenging work will help you achieve your goals in life.

- You are entering your adult life at a time when many things in the world are uncertain and unstable. It is imperative that you find what grounds you and gives you inner peace. Find that peace, each and every day. It will provide you with the inner strength necessary to meet the challenges in front of you.

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