To the high school graduates in the Class of 2009: Your commencement speakers probably will tell you you're going out into an uncertain world during a time of great change.
That is true. The world is never certain, and it's always changing.
Fifty years ago, The Saturday Evening Post -- the nation's largest-circulation weekly magazine at the time -- would not allow people of color pictured on its covers unless they were portrayed as servants.
Today, a black man is president of the United States.
When I graduated from high school nearly 40 years ago, there were no cell phones and no Internet.
Today, most of you likely get your news, if you get any at all, from your cell phones and the Internet.
That's more than a little unsettling to those of us who make our living in newspapers.
But the world changes, whether we like it or not.
It's how you prepare to thrive in the face of inevitable change that will make all the difference.
The fact that you have stuck it out through high school during some days that were probably more boring than listening to your parents' music is to be commended.
Dropping out would have been really, really dumb.
Over your lifetime, you're likely to earn $400,000 more than your classmates who dropped out of high school, according to a new study by Northeastern University, of Boston, and the Alternative Schools Network, of Chicago.
But you'd be almost as dumb to end your education here.
Your earnings will go even higher and you'll be more likely to find a satisfying job with an associate or bachelor's degree.
Yes, we're in the middle of a deep recession.
You will hear people say education doesn't make a difference because there are no jobs.
Don't give in to them.
Recessions end. I've lived through five of them in my career.
And new opportunities we cannot envision present themselves in subsequent economic recoveries.
Continuing your education, as tough financially as that is, will pay dividends beyond the bigger paychecks a college degree will almost certainly guarantee.
You likely will make wiser lifestyle decisions and enjoy better health. You will probably hold fewer prejudices about people who don't look like you.
And you will be better equipped to cope with the inevitable economic and societal changes you will repeatedly face in your adult life.
One more thing: Don't give up on your home state.
Many of you will leave for adventures and opportunities elsewhere. That's OK.
But I would argue the turmoil we're experiencing in the auto industry and the rest of Michigan's economy presents an opportunity to create sources of jobs and wealth.
You could be an important part of that future but only if the diploma you pick up today isn't your last one.
E-mail Rick Haglund: firstname.lastname@example.org