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Our View: Advice for about-to-be 2008 grads

I've been to more high school graduations than, well, anyone I can think of.

During the month before graduation, I think about how much I will miss seeing the seniors I have gotten to know.

Some tell me that I took their pictures when they were in elementary school and I never get tired of hearing it. Tears come to my eyes when I think about my photographs being a part of their lives forever. It's an awesome realization.

This year's seniors have specific plans for their futures and I'm very glad to hear that most of them include college.

They are smart, too. Most told me that they don't think they can get a good-paying job without a college education. Amen to that. I also have some advice to share.

Dear Graduates:

Your parents, friends of the family and relatives are happy to celebrate your graduation. Enjoy the day.

But don't forget to also thank them for footing the bill for your graduation party. They do all the work and you rake in the cash. One of the first things you need to know as an adult is to thank those who help you, an attribute that causes people to respect you in the workplace.

After you've picked up your diploma, you'll feel a bit of a letdown. You aren't the first to whine about school being a "jail" that you can't wait to leave. It's OK to miss it.

You are not unique. Most grads won't admit it, but they say to themselves: "Gee, just as we were coming together as a class and then we graduated," or "I really got to know (insert name) at the all-night party. She or he is really a nice person and I never knew that."

Truth is that you have matured enough to realize that.

Also, you will never again see some of the people you graduated with. You won't regret that very much at the 20-year reunion.

Assuming your life expectancy is 80 years, you haven't even used up 20 percent of your life.

I know you have plans for your future, and I know you won't want to hear this, but those plans might not work out.

If you haven't achieved your dreams by the time you are 35, remember to ask yourself: "How well am I handling my disappointment?" Because there will be failures among the successes.

Highly successful people are, for the most part, optimistic. Pick up an autobiography of a head of state or a winning coach. They are hopeful. You would do well to develop a positive outlook.

Don't focus on what went wrong. Ask yourself what you were supposed to learn from the experience and move on.

I know you've heard it before. You will hear it again. You can't do anything about the past.

One of the best things about finishing high school is that you can determine your own future. One of the scariest things about finishing high school is that you can determine your own future.