5 Important Reminders For New High School Graduates
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5 Important Reminders For New High School Graduates

You'll look back on this time of your life and thank yourself for simply being who you wanted to be.

5 Important Reminders For New High School Graduates

Last Wednesday, I sat in the crowded bleachers of my alma mater's football stadium amazed at how quickly time passes. It seems like just yesterday, I was waiting in anticipation as the graduating class of 2014 was having their names read off in alphabetical order. After 12 long years of waiting for dismissal bells, meeting in the band room during my lunch period, and hoping for snow days that would delay an inevitable math test, it was finally my turn to walk at graduation. But now, it was my sister's turn to take that walk in the very same way that I did years before.

Although I'm proud of my sister's accomplishments and while I know that her future is bright, I can only imagine that the big, impending changes intimidate her just as much as they did me. Often, it felt like I was planning blindly without much knowledge of what to expect; I constantly wished that I had some guidance on what I would face in the months and years to come. Fortunately, I now have that valuable insight from recent, personal experience. And as my sister embarks on that same, scary journey, I have five pieces of critical insight for her and other new graduates:

1. It's okay to not have things figured out.

I remember the anxiety of senior year as if it were yesterday: one moment, you're shrouded by the familiarity of grade school routine. In the next, you're bombarded with talk of life aspirations, long-term careers, and leaving home! For a student who isn't even allowed to use the bathroom without asking permission, it may seem like an abrupt and startling change. However, this sudden need to look toward the future does not imply that you need to have your life mapped out by graduation.

Although it's valuable (and a lot less stressful) to have some sort of direction after high school, it's also okay to be uncertain of where you want to go or what you want to do. After all, grade school was the mandatory life experience - the basic knowledge and the fundamental starting point that every person needs in order to live a fruitful life. But once that's over, you have the freedom to explore life's possibilities until you find your unique niche. Experiment with jobs - making connections, gaining experience, and exploring fields - until you discover what you're good at. Continue your education by taking a wide variety of classes, searching for what piques your interest before declaring a major. Pick up new hobbies. Travel to unfamiliar places. Meet people who inspire you. You may not have a clear idea of what the future holds in the moment that you traverse the stage to receive your diploma, but you still have time to figure things out. Just be patient and trust yourself.

2. If college is not a good fit for you, it isn't your only option.

In this day and age, people who choose to divert from the traditional college path find just as much success as those who don't. Some decide to enroll in vocational school to immerse themselves in a specific, hands-on trade. From there, they go out into the work force as certified professionals, doing what they love for a lot less time and money than what would be required of a college education.

In the same vein, some people choose to bypass school all together. By enrolling in the military, taking a personal gap year, or by diving headfirst into a desired job, plenty of graduates find their direction by means other than continued school. That being said, it's important to understand all available options because no two people are the same; what excites and fulfills one high school graduate will always differ from the next, and college is not the only path that leads to desired happiness.

3. If you are going to college, prepare for a change in rigor.

For those of you who do decide that higher education is life's next step, do not be misled by your former high school habits. Too many times, senior year lulls future freshman into a false sense of nonchalance - the effortless electives, senior skip days, and straightforward assignments giving the impression that academic success is simple and guaranteed. But while it's entirely possible to do well in college with the help of a good attitude and positive work ethic, you will need to invest yourself in a way that senior year might not have required. Completing the homework is key to understanding difficult concepts, missing class often results in losing a large chunk of crucial information, and papers require depth, research, and insight. Evidently, college presents a new level of difficulty that challenges old high school mindsets. It may take some getting used to, but the pride and success that comes from persevering is entirely worth it.

4. It's time to let go high school.

As graduates begin to disperse from their hometown, it's inevitable that they will make new memories, discover new places, and meet new people. And while your time together in those familiar halls was valuable and irreplaceable, it's only natural to move on and to sometimes loose touch when beginning a new stage of life. Not only will your former classmates branch out to different schools and jobs, but many will start families, cut ties to reinvent themselves, and/or move away to distant cities, states, or even counties. That being said, things won't always stay the same as they once were when high school dictated everybody's day-to-day routine. The closest of friends might drift apart; habits, mindsets, and interests may change. But as this happens, don't needlessly strive to hold on to the past because change only makes room for bigger and better opportunities! So while memories and nostalgia are pleasant to have, looking toward a bright and exciting future is often even better.

5. For the first time ever, you will have the freedom to discover yourself.

At the end of the day, the transition out of high school is full of possibility and promise. Although shifting away from childhood comforts can seem like a scary and miserable thing, once you dedicate yourself to pursuing your passions and to living life according to your own terms, you'll find rewarding fulfillment. During this time, don't be afraid to take chances. Challenge yourself to try something new. Put yourself out there. And when all is said and done, you'll look back on this time of your life and thank yourself for simply being who you wanted to be.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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