Nobody’s Path Is Linear: Advice From Alumni


Lily Pumphrey can (and when asked, she will) tell you from experience that high school is indeed a roller coaster- ups and downs, tricky turns, sometimes it makes you want to throw up. Growing up with an older sister in the house, I was always equipped with sufficient advice on how to survive high school. From always having someone to proofread my papers to advising me on which bathrooms to avoid, I’ve never had an issue finding someone to go to. However, not everyone has an outlet to look to for advice. Because of this, I decided to ask for important advice from my sister, Lily Pumphrey, former high school graduate and current college sophomore.

Experiences affect how you grow throughout high school. Many life lessons can be learned and carried out throughout college and into the rest of your life.

“A lesson I learned in high school that has stuck with me in college is that while procrastinating isn’t necessarily the devil, you do need to have a realistic idea of how much you can procrastinate before you screw yourself over,” said Pumphrey. “Procrastination is a thing a lot of college students struggle with, which makes sense because in college it’s totally on you to meet deadlines and nobody is breathing over your shoulder, begging you to turn things in. It’s important to meet yourself in the middle and understand how you work best. Some people can’t procrastinate at all, and some people do their best work under stress. Be realistic about where you are at on that spectrum and use high school as a time to discover what approach to dealing with getting work done is most realistic for you personally.”

Another thing that is important to highlight is that it has been a Pumphrey Family Tradition to be on the newspaper staff. Journalism has always been one of mine and my sister’s favorite classes, so I decided to ask her how journalism has helped her throughout college.

“I’m hoping to major in Public Horticulture, which, as the name would imply, means that I’ll be working to increase public understanding and awareness of horticulture. My dream job is writing and publishing articles with a publication like Better Homes and Gardens. That correlates to journalism pretty directly. But honestly, no matter what you end up doing, being able to communicate effectively is an essential skill. Taking journalism is a great way to practice communicating with people across various forms of media. It’s also a great way to gain confidence and practice putting yourself (and the things you make/do) out into the world.”

And lastly, I decided to ask Pumphrey something I struggle with myself: the urge to graduate and get out of here as fast as possible. It can be hard to be patient when it feels as if you are stuck in high school, ready to move on to new experiences and new places.

“A big thing I’ve come to realize over this past year is that nobody really knows what they’re doing in college, and even most of the people who think they know what they are doing, change their minds. I took a gap year because of Covid, but also because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I’m glad I did. I grew up a lot and got a better idea of what I want. You’re provided with a lot of guidance in high school, but in college and life, it’s kind of all up to you. Take your time, don’t rush big choices, and give yourself the freedom to change your mind. Nobody’s path is linear.”