Dear High School Senior,
Springtime is around the corner, and you have most likely applied to or are in the middle of applying to colleges (if you plan to take that route). Whether you have heard back from the school of your dreams or are still waiting to get a letter in the mail, you are probably a mixture of nervous and excited for this brand-new chapter in your life. Once you get your diploma and toss your cap, everything does change, even if you don't think you're ready, but I'm here to tell you it'll all be OK.
You will adjust to living away from your family. A lot of people are most excited for this part, but I'll tell you that the days will come when you miss your parents and your siblings more than anything in the world. When you call them at night, you'll wish they could stay on the line forever, and when they send you letters and cards in the mail, you will hold them close to you like you never thought. After a couple months, you will find your niche in school and feel less homesick, but you will forever appreciate your family in a way you never could before.
Enjoy the next couple months you have with your childhood best friends by your side, because you might not be as close to them once you all go your separate ways. We would all love to say we stayed as close to our old friends as we were the day we graduated, but that's just not true. Although at first the distance might make you a little upset and you will miss all the crazy times you had together, you will meet amazing people in college who can fill your heart in a matter of minutes, and you will make countless beautiful memories with them.
College is a chance to re-invent yourself, truly. It doesn't matter if you go to a big or small school, because there is an incredibly slim chance you will know everyone there (I'm willing to bet big money on that), so you have an awesome opportunity to become whoever you want to be. You can get involved with whatever club or team you want to and not be ashamed or embarrassed of your quirky interests because I assure you there is a group for everything and tons of other people who love the same things you do.
You might have gotten lucky and known which school you wanted to go to for years. For instance, I knew when I was a little kid that I wanted to come to UMass, and I strove to make it happen with everything I did. You might go to a school you have been dreaming about, whether it's because you have family there or specifically because you don't, or because you want to play for a specific team or get into a specific program, or for any reason in between. If you don't know which college you want to go to, that's OK. I encourage you to go on tours of campus, but not on those that are directed by tour-guides (though those can be helpful too). If you're unsure, I encourage you to take a trip to the campuses you applied to and just walk around, or do an overnight with someone you might know who is older, to spend time there when no one is trying to impress you. The right college exists for everyone, and when people say you will “feel at home" when you are there, they're right. You will know, and a lot of your fears and worries will disappear.College can be stressful, but you will have the time of your life. I am still new to this experience, but in a year you will be too, and you may be offering the same advice to someone who looks up to you. The next four years of your life (at least the next year, because that's all I can be sure of), will be full of new adventures, people, and things you never knew before. Cherish your last few months of high school, because things do change once you receive your diploma, but don't stress too much about the future, because you will do just fine. I wish you all the best, and I'll always be here if you need me