10½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said



I picked this up in the used book section of a Barnes and Noble- these are rare places and the one in NJ is the centralized location for all used books sold through B&N. Suffice to say I was there for a little while last night.

I got this because I felt like thinking about graduation– the idea of moving into something new. I feel like that right now– I got no clue what I graduated from, but this book hit the spot.

I never read anything by Charles Wheelan, but I think I’ll be on the lookout for his other books after reading this sensible series of advice – the premise of his speech is things that he wished someone had told him when he graduated college.

I will list the titles of the 10½ things here as a way to whet your whistle:

1. Your time in fraternity basements was well spent.

(Note- I know this one might sound bad but it’s not about sexual assault at all! It’s just about hanging out/not ‘working’)

2. Some of your worst days lie ahead.

3. Don’t make the world worse.

4. Marry someone smarter than you are.

5. I’m sorry.

6. Help stop the Little League arms race?

6½. Read obituaries.

7. Take time off.

7½. Your parents don’t want what is best for you.

8.  Don’t model your life after a circus animal.

9.  It’s all borrowed time.

10. I have no idea what the future will bring.

10½. Don’t try to be great.


4 comments on “10½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said”

  1. A nice find. Wheelan seems to have managed to be both wise and lighthearted. An enviable combination.


  2. Commencement speeches apparently leave out significant life lessons. I long for the days I sat around in student hovels not ‘swatting’ as my father called it, studying for anyone who doesn’t speak English like a middle aged man from the deep south of New Zealand.


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