A senior sendoff for Cougar grads

Thousands of seniors are in my shoes: finishing their degree and approaching graduation. Once we cross that stage, thousands of doors open for us.

Now for the big question: which one do we take?

My fellow Cougar seniors, don’t be afraid. Sorry for the cliché, but we are crossing that bridge between one chapter and another. We write our own stories now, and every story is different

This might mean the next chapter is a beautiful paradise where everything is happy and birds sing as you flit through life. Maybe the next chapter is an uphill mountain of falling rocks, speed bumps, and killer bears with chainsaws. Or maybe the next chapter is totally blank.

I want to reassure you all: it’s going to be okay. You all have probably seen a thousand “Tips for Graduating College Students” articles and columns. Let’s make it a thousand and one.

But I don’t want to use 600 words to spew a bunch of clichés. I only know so many of you, so it’s hard to find that one piece of advice that will apply to everyone.

So after much thought and debate, I want to pass on this advice: you do you. Do what makes you happy.

Not ready to start that dream career? Then start somewhere smaller. I’m taking a gap year to get extra work experience. Go beyond building a résumé and build on your experiences and expertise.

Or maybe you are ready to jump into that dream job. Go for it. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the job immediately or if you’re forced to start at an entry-level position. Sometimes it’s best to start small and work your way up through a company. It will make you more knowledgeable should you reach a managerial position.

For some of us, that career we shoot for requires something more advanced than a bachelor’s degree. Or maybe you just love school. Graduate school is always an option. It just takes a little research.

Maybe you’ll find WSU has what you’re looking for, or maybe you just love being a Cougar too much to leave. But don’t discredit another university that may have a stronger master’s program in your field of study.

They say travel while you’re young, but whoever said that may not realize some of us only have 45 cents in our bank accounts. But no matter where you go — abroad or in the country — and no matter what you do, go explore if you get the chance. Find out new things about the place you’re visiting or even about yourself.

I don’t know about you, but I want to bike Route 66. Anyone want to come?

You’re not alone, Cougars. College students across the country are in the same position. Take a deep breath, steel your nerves and march forward with a proud smile.

Go Cougs!