Dear Class of 2012: Before you go, some advice from alums

-It’s OK and probably a good thing to land a job that is not your “dream” job right out of school.

Be prepared to be more independent.

Don’t hesitate when an opportunity is given to you; it may change your ideas and lead you to a more fulfilling life journey.

If you live/work in a major city, make sure to have quarters for laundry.

Student loan payments start six months after graduation, and depending on your debt, these can play a major factor in income.

Learn to adjust; you will be immersed in an environment with people from different backgrounds and opinions, and you will need to balance your thoughts to work in this new setting.

Make a list of every conceivable expense that is part of apartment living before you sign a lease. It’s the little expenses that one forgets—they add up.

Get good credit and protect it.

A kind, outgoing and generous temperament is more important to an employer than multiple academic degrees.

Don’t be afraid to address difficult employment situations in which an employer is discriminating or being gender-biased.

As soon as you begin to earn a steady paycheck, establish a safety-net savings account.

Beware of what you post on Facebook; it’s all fun and games until your boss finds photos of you in a bathing suit on the day you were too sick to work.

Make and keep connections; you never know when an old friend/co-worker/boss can help you land a new job.

Coupons, coupons, coupons…never pay full price; you have student loans to pay back.

Trust your gut. Whether it’s about relationships, employment or setting goals, listen to your gut and heed the “uh-oh” message. And equally trust your gut when you know you can do something, even if others aren’t convinced.

Know how to swim.

Know how to unplug a toilet.

Know how to change a fuse (and know where the gas main is and how to shut it off).

Know how to do your own taxes (or at least what documents/information you need to supply).

Know that your tuition didn’t pay for 100 percent of your Wheaton education and that part of the social contract is to contribute to the Wheaton Fund every year.

Know how to listen.

Know that integrity is something only you can give away; no one can take it; and that when all else has been lost, it can be an enormous comfort.

Know that doing work that interests you is more important than work that pays well.

Know how to say no.

Come back to campus as often as you can! Wheaton will have your back forever.

Wisdom courtesy of Roslyn ”Roz” Cartwright Edwards ’85, Sarah Lenes ’05, Joseph Lee ’08, Jane Martin ’74, Veronica “Roni” Jacobson Fenton ’86, Heather Ceccarelli Porter ’97, Jennifer Curran ’89, Erica McLean Helm ’91, Elisabeth Stitt ’88, Christopher Wilbur ’05. Email us your advice at

Photo by Nicki Pardo