Walking into school freshman year, students are told “these next four years will fly by.” Rolling their eyes and chuckling, the freshman pay no attention.
Flash forward to their senior year, and many seniors struggle to come to terms with the fact that high school is ending, and many more are fearful of the future and what it has in store for them.
According to Segue to College, many graduating seniors have many fears about their future and the uncertainty of success. Some of these fears include losing relationships, high expectations (maturing) and the choices that come with adulting.
Though these all play a major factor in anxiety with seniors, some anxiety is also good to have. College and Career Counselor Curtis Menke explains what lies behind these senior fears.
“It’s not the fear of graduating,” he says. “I think it’s the fear of the unknown. For the last, including before kindergarten, 13 years of an 18-year olds life, all they’ve known is the school system. So that’s what’s known, but next is clearly defined plans, college workforce, military, certain majors, and other careers.”
And even though these spurts of anxiety can be a roadblock for many, Menke explains that it isn’t a bad thing.
“This might sound cold,” he adds, “but I hope seniors feel anxious. I get more worried about seniors who don’t feel anxious about the unknown that those that do. It’s normal to feel uncertain. It’s normal to feel anxious about something you’ve never experienced before.”
Fear is natural
Almost every student is excited to enter their senior year because of the freedoms that come with it. But, with the end near, that excitement turns into fear for some.
Senior Kilea McCants explains, “The thing I am most fearful of for college is meeting new people. I am a part of Facebook groups and I have a roommate, but putting myself out there and talking to new people will be weird. No one there knows me, so it’s all new.”
Even though the idea of being new to everything is a major fear for many people, some fear of losing their most important friendships and relationships.
“The scariest thing about graduating,” senior Evelyn Corona says, “is leaving and not seeing the people I have grown up with since elementary or grade school, because of the great relationships and memories I have created over my entire academic career.”
And although she does have these fears, there are still things that Corona is excited and looks forward to.
“The thing I am excited for is walking across the stage to get my diploma,” she adds, “and then turning towards where my family is seated, and thanking them with a smile for everything they have done for me, leading up to that moment. Because, if it was not for their constant encouragement and guidance, I would not be where I am today.”
Fear, as scary as it is, is natural, and many seniors have or will face it. But what matters is realizing that graduation is a huge success, and the end of chapter, but the beginning of a life-long journey.
Free and open
Although teachers and staff have been preparing students for graduation for four years now, their advice isn’t always the most effective. Recents graduates have the perspective and distance to know what it’s really like on the other side..
Former graduate from the class of 2021, Katie Parrish, was scared of graduating too. “My fear with graduating was college,” she says. “What college was going to be like, and how I was going to like my major. And, just my future overall.”
While she did struggle with the anxious feeling of college, just one year later, Parrish’s mindset has changed completely.
“I feel so amazing after graduating,” explains Parrish. “Life is just overall better, and being free and on an open based schedule rather than the high school schedule is way better. Just remember to not stress about graduation.”
“It might be scary, or suck in the moment,” she continues, “but you just have to take it one day at a time and learn each day. Graduation is just one better step to a future that you are working towards!”
While Parrish graduated just a year ago, many other graduates, from other classes, have found they have had the same experiences with the anxiety of graduation.
“My high school experience was different,” says Luke Kaspar, who graduated from MCHS in 2018. “I was always more of a physical learner, so sitting around in classes, where I sat around for a long time didn’t help me. My favorite part of high school was the community with the students because a lot of the time the best part of my days were goofing around in class rather than learning about punnett squares, and now that I’m an adult realizing that I had a free pass to see my friends everyday was a blessing.”
Just the beginning
With a little distance, Kaspar says that leaving high school isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but rather a way to freedom and a new lifestyle.
“Leaving high school felt liberating,” he says, “because for the first 16 years of my life, I’ve been woken up every morning, being told to go to school, and it’s a burden of quizzes, homework, and tests, which I was never really fond of so I didn’t have to do it anymore.”
The perspectives of others — both those who have graduated recently and those who work with graduating students on a daily basis — can alleviate or at the very least relax some of the fear. As students graduate and move on with their lives, they may feel fear and anxiety, but it’s only a matter of time before they realize that graduation is just the beginning.