Congratulations to the graduates of the class of 2015! Earning high school diplomas or college degrees deserves a celebration. These achievements represent the years of learning and effort that were often accompanied with juggling the demands of academics, sports, extracurricular activities, and personal obligations.
After enjoying the celebrations, graduates should continue their resume-building activities as college students, work force employees, entrepreneurs, artists, or wherever their interests take them.
However, there is more to life than resume building. New York Times columnist David Brooks identifies the two sides of humans in his book “The Road to Character.” The “Adam I” side seeks worldly (sometimes superficial) success, and the “Adam II” side seeks a rich inner life by developing character. While Adam I skills and abilities provide credentials for entry into the workplace, the Adam II side becomes increasingly important as a differentiator.
Brooks maintains that Adam II attributes lead to deeper life, but developing these abilities, while decreasing weaknesses can be a struggle. A key attribute is humility. Humility helps the fresh graduate to be open to learning from others and tempers overconfidence. Humility also comes from new knowledge. When one knows little, it is easy to be confident; exposure to a deeper understanding, however, is humbling but tremendously valuable in building character.
Strong character also requires fighting inner struggles with characteristics such as pride, selfishness, and prejudices. Pride can be a problem as it may blind us to our own weaknesses or prevent us from being vulnerable. As human beings, we will always struggle against areas of weakness, while striving to build strengths, but this struggle gives meaning and purpose to life. Graduates will choose which Adam I and Adam II parts to develop, and which parts to minimize.
Armed with new graduation credentials and the accompanying privileges and accolades, graduates also face an awesome responsibility: the responsibility to be informed, to make good decisions, and to do so in a way that not only gives meaning and purpose to life, but that makes the world a better place. Best wishes to the class of 2015’s change makers!
Ferah Aziz is a college coach with launchphase2. Visit www.launchphase2.com to learn more about coaching for college bound & college attending students. P. Carol Jones is the author of “Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able.” Visit www.towardcollegesuccess.com to read excerpts and to follow her blog.