For SENIORS ONLY!
Through most of high school, you knew what to expect. Go to class, study and get good grades. As a senior, you are at the top of your game. You’ve gone through some fun times and some tough times and have made it to the end of this section of your journey. This year, you were hit with a worldwide pandemic, and although daunting, you took it in stride. You zoomed and google chatted, and made the most of the virtual classroom. Now you are faced with a brand new path, one that’s unknown and that can make you feel pretty uneasy. Will you head to work or online college, or actually go to real classrooms in the fall?
If you are looking toward your graduation with fear and anxiety, you are not alone. Graduating high school is a transitional time. Along with the anticipation, excitement and sense of accomplishment comes uncertainty and stress about the future. What steps can you take to make the transition from high school student to high school graduate a bit easier?
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
Transitions are always shaky and stressful but focusing on the positive, remembering the goals you already achieved and congratulating yourself on your past accomplishments helps. Accept that new situations and this new stage in your life can be scary, but you have made it through all the different stages so far and you can make it through this one as well. Think back to the person you were on day one of high school … now look at yourself in the mirror … you have grown and matured in more ways than you may have imagined possible.
REMEMBER YOUR SAFETY NET
Graduating from high school can make you feel like you are losing your safety net, especially if you are moving out of the house. But remember that your parents, relatives and friends are still there to support you. True, you may be expected to wear a mask in public, give only virtual hugs, earn some of your own money in a virtual workplace, and remind yourself of upcoming deadlines, but your friends and family will always be there if you need help. There is also the opportunity of building a new safety net once you get to university or to expand your network if you are remaining at home.
FIRST WEEK OF COLLEGE
Scope out the campus for a few hours, using a printed map. Make notes of where the support services are: health center, counseling center, professor office hours, etc. Check out the food/dining options. Set up a structure in terms of meals and a regular wake, work schedule. This will provide you with some consistency to your week and make attending classes and completing assignments easier than having a ‘wait and see when I wake up’ attitude. Schedule time to explore opportunities for social connections: clubs, intramural sports, writing for the newspaper, attending plays or musical performances. Social events can connect you to the life of the school and expand your interests, even if they are virtual. Cast your net wide - then pare down the options. Don’t be afraid to ask about the possibilities. There are no wrong or stupid questions.
FIND A NEW GOAL
During high school your goal was pretty clear: to graduate. Now that you made it, it’s time to find a new goal in life. Your new goal might be to go to university, explore a trade, take a year off to travel or learn a new language – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you focus on what you really want to do for both the short and long term. What matters is staying curious and expanding your comfort zone, with knowledge and experiences. Break your goal down into steps; as you navigate each step successfully you will feel a sense of accomplishment and that will lessen the anxiety you feel.NOTHING IS SET IN STONE
Many students feel a sense of anxiety about making decisions after high school because they think that anything they decide will be for the rest of their lives. This really isn’t the case. While you don’t want to float around and change your mind on a daily or weekly basis, it is helpful to remember that decisions you make today don’t have to be permanent.
Life after high school is about finding what you like and what you don’t. You may choose one type of work and then find you don’t enjoy it and want to look for something different. You may choose to move to a different city and then find it isn’t the right fit for you. But you can always change your mind and set new goals or choose a different career path. And if that isn’t right you can change it again. Keep in mind that the rest of your life does not need to depend on your decision today.
YOU GOT THIS
Reflect back on all of the things you thought were going to be impossible in high school: your first ROCK project, making new friends, that honors math class, getting a job, taking two APs in junior year, making varsity, learning to drive, earning a role in the Nutcracker, getting into Leadership or Peer Resource…and the list goes on. All of those things and more were indeed possible. Rest assured that there are many challenges and much joy ahead. You will make new friends, learn how to wash laundry in the middle of the night, join new clubs, meet new professors, write research papers, and navigate airport security all on your own. Venture forth with a sense of certainty in your ability to start designing your ONE GREAT LIFE! Keep me posted on the circuitous path of adventure, as I am hopeful it will be grand.
With much love, Sheila Souder