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Graduation Speech Cliches that Need to be Retired

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As college and high school graduation season rolls through the land, thousands of audiences will hear the same bits of tired wisdom that have been trotted out for decades. Perhaps it is time to give some of these insights a rest.

“Don’t be afraid to fail.” – While I understand and agree with the sentiment, I kind of think it might not be a bad idea to be just a little bit afraid to fail. Not a lot. Just enough to keep from losing your life savings on that digital chinchilla farm idea.

“Remember that you are the future.” – No kidding. Listen, not only do graduates fully understand that they are the future, their entire master plan for happiness and success hinges on them being the future.

“Always appreciate your parents.” – Again, wonderful sentiment. However, do we really believe that some kid is sitting there in a cap and gown, thinking, “You know, I never really cared for Mom and Dad, but now that the CEO of AcmeCorp has set me straight, I’m going to start remembering their birthdays!”?

“Enjoy this time of your life.” – Really? A jobless economic recovery, a mountain of student debt and a mind-numbing presidential campaign season ahead of us – and these are the glory days? Enjoy, kids.

“Follow your dreams.” – This one comes with an implied kicker: “As long as your dream isn’t to spend three years on Mom’s couch while you pursue a career as a professional poker player.”

“Never stop learning.” – This advice would be much better directed to the parents than the graduates. Today’s kids have no intention of stopping their education and skills training. They know they’ll work a series of jobs over their lifetime. It’s their parents who need to be prodded to read a book, take a class or attend a workshop.

So there’s our start. What are some of YOUR least favorite graduation speech cliches? Add to The List!


2 Responses »

  1. Shoot for the stars. (similar to Follow your dreams, but with a more “fun” connotation. Think pinball or video games.)

    Be good to yourself. (but not too good, because that costs a lot of money you don’t have.)

    Don’t forget your roots. (unless you can’t stand the people you’ve grown up with.)


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