Noted historian David McCullough gave the commencement address at Boston College last month.
In his speech. he urged the graduating class of 2008 to improve their communication skills by eliminating needless words such as “like,” “you know,” and “actually” from their speech.
Good advice, to be sure, but not enough.
Today’s graduates need practical, “real world” advice that will help them get a job. Even those going on to college will need to work, either to pay for the inordinate expense of school or to buy all the junk food and caffeinated beverages necessary for all-night studying.
And to secure a job, they will need to write. Whether writing a resume or filling out an application, they must know how to communicate on paper.
Here’s my advice to the Class of 2008: Spell out the words.
I know this is a blow to those of you who mainly communicate via text or instant messaging, but in the real world the old fogies (meaning anyone over age 25) who are going to hire you need to see each letter in a word in order to know what it is. We’re just slow that way. It must be our rapidly advancing age.
So, please (not PLZ), spell out the word “to” – or “too” or “two.” (Do you even remember that there are three ways to spell that one word?) “2” just doesn’t cut it. If something is SRSLY 2G2BT, write that it is “seriously too good to be true” or we might not catch on.
It may be cumbersome for you to have to re-familiarize yourself with the old-fashioned system of spelling out each word, but, for the most part, it is the old and decrepit over-25s who are the bosses and who, therefore, can set the rules.
And, really, if we were going to put the effort into learning an entirely new system of characters and spelling, it would be for something more potentially lucrative than text-ese, like Russian.
Also, you may as well know that employers don’t want to know how you feel. They just want to know you can get the job done. So don’t bother letting them know you’re happy 🙂 or sad 🙁 or laughing 😀 because they really don’t care. And for goodness’ sake don’t wink at your boss 😉 because that could just set you up for a sexual harassment suit.
I predict a burgeoning cottage industry that will be the silver lining for those of you who are the fastest at brushing up on your spelling skills. There are thousands like you who have forgotten how to spell. Those graduates, too, will need to re-learn basic spelling and grammar in order to get a job.
Capitalize on that. Start your own tutoring program to bring your fellow graduates up to speed. You could probably fund your entire college education with such an endeavor.
Then you’d be your own boss and you could spell things any way you darn well please.
— The school board will be gifting each graduate with a copy of Jill’s new book, “U 2 CAN LRN 2 SPELL.”