Every year around this time, a few of our Collegewise kids ask us to look over the graduation speeches they’ve written so we can “give them feedback.” And every year, our most important feedback is that they not write the standard high school graduation speech. I know that standard speech well. In fact, every kid in America who writes a high school graduation speech seems to say the same three things.
1. “We’ve come so far in just four years.”
2. “We’ve endured good times and bad, but we’ve done so together.”
3. “Now we’re going off into our futures, but we’re well prepared thanks to our wonderful high school.”
There’s nothing wrong with those messages. In fact, those are entirely appropriate thoughts to share. But the rules we teach for great college essays all apply here. Don’t say what everybody else says exactly how they say it. Be honest. Be specific. Be forceful. Say something meaningful. Don’t resort to quotes or clichés.