What They Didn't Tell You About Graduating From High School

What They Didn't Tell You About Graduating From High School

It's not just gowns and caps and smiling... it's thirteen years of your life, culminating in one moment.

I graduated on June 1st. Everyone always told me so many things about graduation. They told me to enjoy my senior year when it comes around because I’ll never get that time again. They told me that graduating was going to be so bittersweet, as I step from one chapter of my life to the next. I listened, but I never really understood what they said. I suppose, on some level, you can never really understand anything that people will say to you until you’ve been through it yourself. But, I still want to impart some wisdom on the upcoming senior class as they go through their last year of grade school and graduation.

1. It comes around a lot sooner than you think-

And that’s scary. You've seen the seniors leave and graduate and haven't thought much about it. But then, all of a sudden, you're a senior, you're graduating.You swear you remember what it felt like to be sitting in the stands, watching those people in gowns float across the stage, not really processing what it meant. And now you're there, and how could this possibly be real? How could high school have ended so quickly? The majority of your life up to now has been about this one thing, and now it’s all going to end. You're not complaining of course, but it sometimes just shocks you a bit. It's scary, growing up.

When you’re at your graduation, no matter where you are sitting, make sure that you take a moment to look all around you. Look at all of your classmates and teachers, and no matter your experience in high school, take a moment to be grateful. Wherever you’re going from here, your high school will always be the place you came from. So just take a moment to enjoy it before it’s all over.

2. It's stressful-

People always look so happy, so easy breezy beautiful up there as they're walking across stage, finally done with high school, and summer ahead of them. And those feelings are genuine. But dude, graduating is difficult. The weeks leading up to it are especially difficult because you have to make sure you're actually going to graduate. There are a million forms to fill out, exit interviews, future plans, etc. etc. on top of all the school work that teachers deem necessary to throw at you. And then there's writing speeches and giving them, planning for parties, all of the end-of-the-year festivities and fitting in last dates and lunches with people, getting things ready for colleges… the list of things to do is endless. Amid all the stress though, don't forget to enjoy everything. It's really not as busy as it may seem, just a bit overwhelming as you're trying to deal with all of the emotions.

3. You will cry. A lot.-

You’ll tell yourself that you’re not going to cry, because you’re ready to graduate. Because this is a happy ending, not a sad one. Because you’re moving on to even greater things. But as soon as the final bell rings on your last day of school, you’ll burst-- literally burst-- into tears. If not then, then you will at some time. Leaving is emotional, as is saying goodbye.

4. You get asked A LOT of questions-

“So where are you headed next year?” “What's your major?” “What do you want to do?” “Any plans for the summer?” “So how does it feel to be graduating?” Um it feels really weird. See, I hate this question most of all, because they know EXACTLY how it feels and even if they don't, they're expecting a specific answer, like some sad proclamation of how nostalgic or scared you are or how you’re so happy and excited for the next step. And yes, they expect that because those feelings are a pretty natural and common response, but how are we supposed to explain to you the true complexity of what we are feeling? It's a really difficult question with a really complicated answer. Until now, I never really realized the value of stock answers that you have prepared to spit out when someone asks a question. So, make sure you have a couple of those up your sleeve.

5. It tastes like sweet victory-

Graduating is AWESOME. It’s the past 13 years of your life culminating into one moment, one piece of paper, one walk across a stage. It’s every night your spent awake cramming for an exam, finishing a project, or editing a final paper. It’s all of the sweat, blood and tears (literally) that went into your education. You did it. It all paid off. Congratulations.

6. Perspective-

One really important thing that you learn from graduation is perspective. What seemed important then doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. High school was a montage of worrying about SAT and ACT scores, about college acceptance, about tests, quizzes, homework, grades, AHHHHH. But you realize, when you’re at the end of your senior year, none of that really matters as much as you thought it did back then. Of course, I can say all this after being admitted into the college of my choice and knowing where I’m going to be next fall. I can understand why it’s difficult to have perspective when there is a problem at hand with no real solution readily available yet. But honestly speaking, it just doesn’t matter as much as you think it all does. Everything will work out in the end. You will figure it out. Trivial things are not worth losing your mind over. When you reach the end of your senior year, you’ll realize that those things don’t matter as much, and you don’t want to live with the regret that you lost four years of your life worrying about the wrong things. So, when it comes time to graduation, LIVE IT UP. Have fun. Go out with your friends, have dinner, go to concerts, party hard and celebrate. These are moments you won’t get back. No matter what happened back then or what will happen in the future, you deserve these moments right now, and you deserve to make them count. Take a step back, apply a bit of perspective and just. have. fun.

Cover Image Credit: Julie Semones

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There Is So Much Value In The Humanities But People Overlook It

This is why we need the humanities.

“What are you going to do with that?” “Are you going to be a teacher?” “Where is the use in that?” These are the responses I always get whenever I tell people that I am a history major, and I am frankly sick of it. For too long, I and millions of students like me have been pigeonholed into schools and academia.

One day in my senior year, I met four history alumni of my university and none of them were teachers or professors. The business and STEM industries seem more focused on the question of “How?” whereas the liberal arts is more focused on “Why?” Business and STEM majors are both focused on objectives, results, and efficiency. Liberal arts majors are too but in different ways.

My junior year of college, I had a friend who worked as a teaching assistant for an engineering class. They were a senior majoring in English. I asked them what they did for the class as an English major, and they said they grade all the lab reports the students write. I then asked her how were they and without hesitation, they said, “THEY ARE HORRIBLE!” That is the basic reason why we need liberal arts because everybody needs to learn how to communicate their thoughts effectively on paper (and in speech).

Perhaps lawyers are the paradigms of liberal arts, because their careers are based around thinking in the abstract and communicating precisely and effectively while at the office, and the best part is that the options are virtually endless which type of law they want to practice: they can range from defending someone falsely accused of a crime to negotiating a treaty between nations. But we often neglect all the other practitioners of liberal arts outside the realm of law.

Let’s make one thing clear: liberal arts majors aren’t in it just for the money, which might sound like blasphemy in today’s society.

Instead, they’re in it for the passion. Rather than dedicating their studies--and their lives--to studying an unfulfilling subject and working an unfulfilling job, those who major in liberal arts dedicate their lives to something they want to live for: humanity.

The disregard and disposability people show for liberal arts tells me only one thing: we are fixated on improving our condition. Technology is constantly revolutionizing the ways communicate with each other, the ways we consume information, and the ways we conduct medical procedures. It only tells us that there is something wrong and needs to get fixed right now.

Liberal arts and humanities exist to remind us how far humans of come in advancing civilization, how much humans have achieved in improving their condition.

The humanities exist to preserve the human record. That’s why we have literature, history, philosophy, and theatre. The stories and ideas that each convey offer insights into the human condition so we can better understand ourselves and each other.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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7 Good Things About High School

Even though they weren't the best four years of my life, there were some good things about them.

I'm one of those people that will quickly tell you they hated high school. I love learning, but I really loathed my school. Even though I "hated" it, it wasn't all terrible. It wasn't all dancing at basketball games and singing "We're allll in this tooogether", but there were some things I appreciated about it.

1. You didn't feel rushed to have your whole life figured out.

My only focus in high school was graduating. There wasn't any pressure to figure out what I was doing with my life. My only focus was doing well in all of my classes so I could then go off to college.

2. Everyone was in the same boat as you.

Everyone in high school was the same, more or less. We were all just trying to deal with the unnecessary school rules, finding someone to sit with in class, and walking across the stage at the end of senior year. Everyone was working towards the same thing, getting their diploma. In college, everyone is working towards different degrees in different areas of study. There are also some people starting their families already.

3. Everyone had relatively the same schedule.

Of course everyone had different classes, but everything was all at the same time. The school day started at the same time everyday for everybody and ended at the same time everyday for everybody. (In college, you get to customize your schedule. You can even do all of your classes at night if you're not a morning person.)

4. You were able to see your friends, even for just a second.

Even if you didn't have any of the same classes as your friends, you could see them in between classes or even at lunch. Now everyone is away at different colleges, living in different states, or even studying abroad. You get to see all of their life updates on Facebook now.

5. You had these grand ideas of life after high school, before realizing they were actually harder to accomplish.

I was going to travel the world right after graduating and be this awesome adult. COMPLETELY untrue and never happened. For some reason, I had forgotten that you kind of need money to go places, and I have to go to school to get my degree. Obviously I'm hopefully going to be able to travel in the future, but not as an 18 year old with no money.

6. Your only goal was to graduate.

I wasn't concerned with what I was going to do with my life while I was in high school. I was 14 Freshman year, I didn't care about what my lifelong profession was going to be. It hit me as soon as college started that I need to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, because I kind of needed to work towards something. Now my current goal is getting my PhD in English and becoming a teacher, not just graduating.

7. You pretty much knew what you were doing.

You had Math 2nd period and lunch at 11:30, you had everything lined out for you. Now it's waking up every morning and decided whether or not you're actually going to go to class. Not only that, but also wondering if what you're doing is right. I started college as a Biology major, and now it's second semester and I'm an English major. Cleary I'm indecisive.

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