With graduation, like their high school years, now behind them, members of the Class of 2014 are embarking on the next steps on their respective journeys.
For some, it is college or some type of technical school.
For others, it's the workforce.
And for others yet, it's the military, which is a little bit of both.
But whatever path the more than 6,000 Lee County grads choose, the first steps are likely to be the most exciting - and the most challenging.
For this group of graduates, the future is a little brighter than last year's faced and a whole lot better than the one the last few classes found themselves facing: The economy continues to improve, the job market is offering some better opportunities, and officials remain committed to containing education costs.
Still, today's alumni, like those of the last few years, are likely going to have to work a little harder, a little longer and a whole lot smarter than some of us had to in the not-too-distant past.
As we said last year, that's not a negative, it's simply reality.
Those entering or preparing for today's real world economy continue to face several challenges.
Those include more competition and a narrowing of options as some formerly choice career paths have been changed - or eliminated forever - by technology.
Those entering the workforce also still face lower starting wages and can expect to stay on the same rung of the career ladder longer while the economy continues its march toward normalcy.
Our best advice for the Class of 2014?
Don't think you have left "homework" behind.
It has never been more important to carefully research career options, weighing the "benefits-costs" of any chosen career. Even with promised cost containment, college and technical schools remains an expensive investment - paticularly for those who need to pay their own way via student loans.
Follow your dream absolutely, but have a real-life plan to get you there because, frankly, talent without commitment and drive is seldom enough, even in the best of times.
Best wishes to the Class of 2014.
The future does look brighter and the local economy is picking up speed.
We wish you every success.
- Citizen editorial