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Advice to Adolescents Still Resonates with Grownups

ExpandED Schools

We asked for advice, and you answered—in droves! Thanks to everyone who participated in our Send a Note campaign. Nearly 600 6th graders around the city received letters of encouragement and pencils welcoming them to middle school.

The notes came from people all over the country—educators and writers, bankers and professoers, college students and retirees, museum directors, architects, data analysts, sales professionals, insurance agents, a watchmaker … even a former White House Chief Technology Officer. While note senders grew up all around the world—Haiti, India, Israel, Turkey, Panama, Sudan, Denmark, the Grenadines, Australia and Trinidad, to name a few – the experience of adolescence proved to be universal.

Here are some pearls of wisdom shared with students in our schools. We’re sharing them with you because quite often, the best advice applies to “kids” of all ages.


It's better to be disliked for who you are than loved for what you're not - stay true to yourself and your values.

Take a chance. The hardest part will be starting, but that only takes 20 seconds of insane courage.

Being different is such a wonderful thing; it shows how you stand out from the crowd.

People will help you when you are polite to them.

Be kind to other people, especially those who look lonely and could use a friendly smile.

Be who you are because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.

Being on time is late; being early is on time.

Your failures are the initial steps towards your success.

Always make friends with the quiet kids. They have a lot to say!

The weirdest people turned out to be the coolest people by the time we became adults!

Your attitude determines your direction.

Wear sunscreen everyday; drink water.

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass; it's about learning how to dance in the rain.

You have two ears but only one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk.  

You do you.

When you're upset, ask yourself: will I remember this in 5 days? 5 months? 5 years? 

Being happy is ultimately more important than being cool. 

Don't grow up too fast! Being an adult isn't as fun as being a kid.

Technology makes it easier than ever to ruin relationships and reputations. Be very careful about what and with whom you share.



One person even turned to literature:

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his [her] point of view and until you climb into his [her] skin and walk around in it." (To Kill a Mockingbird


Thanks to everyone who brightened a tween’s day!






Have more words of wisdom to share with ExpandED students? Feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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