It's been eight years since I strut my stuff across the stage with my high school class, sporting my blue cap and gown. It doesn't seem like a long time ago until I realize that if I had more ambition in life, I could have gotten my doctorate! Yikes--that's a crazy thought! So, I've put together a list of advice for the graduating class of 2017...things I wish I would have known back then.

  • Life is hard, so pick your hard. What I mean by this is, getting your degree seems like a huge mountain to climb. Going after your dreams seems hard--but, so does living pay check to pay check. Looking back on your life and feeling regret toward things you wish you would have done also seems pretty hard. So, pick your hard.
  • Stay in touch with your friends. Believe it or not, those people you're walking across the stage with this year may seem like complete strangers in a few years. If you've got a best friend right now, make an effort to stay in 'real life' and not just on social media.
  • You can't eat everything you want. Freshmen 15 is a real thing whether you think it can happen to you. I used to eat chips, cake, pizza and french fries. I learned very quickly that an adult diet needs to consist of lots of fruits and vegetables. Exercise is also a good thing if you want to stay the size you are now!
  • Buy a yearbook. I can't tell you how many times I've pulled out my old senior yearbook to look someone up, reminisce or just laugh at myself. It's well worth the entertainment when you're my age.
  • You don't need to have everything figured out right now. Graduating high school is terrifying. You feel like you need to have a plan for your life...and a million people will ask you what your plans's OK to tell people you don't know. You'll figure things out at your own pace.
  • Start building credit. I just told my sister to get a credit card the other day. She's 18 and graduating high school on Thursday. Start building your credit right now so when the time comes to get a car loan or buy a house, you'll have a pretty solid credit history to show the bank. And, remember that a credit card is not "free money." It needs to be paid back, so don't spend more than you have.
  • Work your butt off in college. There are two kinds of college students--the ones that study and work hard, and the ones that party the whole time. You're spending so much money to get an education, so why not get something out of it? Trust me, college will go by just as fast as high school did. Make the most of your education.
  • Enjoy being your age. You're the youngest right now that you'll ever be...that sounds so clique but, it's true. In a few years you'll have more commitments and responsibilities. So, just enjoy right now.
  • Save your money. I mean, obviously you should treat yourself every once-in-awhile but save as much money as you can. You'll thank yourself later when it's time to make a down payment on your house, get a car, have a kid, or if there's an emergency situation.

Congratulations graduates! This is a very exciting time in your lives!