High school graduation is right around the corner and that, of course, means prepping for final exams, prom and commencement ceremonies.
It’s a time of year that crawls to an end in that it seems to take forever for the final bell to ring and then—boom—it’s over and a different life begins.
The big question is what happens after high school? There’s no easy answer.
Graduating is about moving from one space to another. It’s about changing and growing into your own person. I’ve spoken with many young people. Some are planning to attend university, some have full-time jobs already, and others say they’re taking a gap year after graduation.
This concept of gap year indicates a desire to continue in some future educational pursuits but is indicative of the need for a break and exploration between graduation and college or trade school. For some, this is the perfect time to regroup and get to know themselves away from the confines of high school and figure out what they want to do.
There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on kids to succeed. I’ve found that many who feel compelled to answer with what is expected rather than what they actually want and, let’s face it, some simply don’t know what they want and that’s OK.
Some direct advice to the gap year students: Know that a gap year needs a plan and a plan needs action. Taking a gap year isn’t about sleeping until noon every day and then asking mom and dad for spending money. It requires you to not only grow up but, to step up. You’re going to have to get a job. That’s a reality.
There’s an old saying that says the path to hell is paved with good intentions. What this means in relation to a gap year is that having ideas or dreams isn’t going to cut it. You must formulate a plan of action because it’s imperative your gap year doesn’t sputter into a complete failure to launch.
Believe me, you don’t want to find yourself living in your parents’ basement for the next 20 years wondering where the time went because all you’ve been doing is playing video games all day.
If you graduate in June then something needs to happen before September. Taking a couple of weeks off to rest and regroup is fine but then it’s time to get to work—literally.
Taking a gap year can be beneficial in eliminating the things that you don’t want to pursue while also delving into new ventures and experiences. Try different things. It’s a time of exploration but if you don’t get out into the world and engage in activities that move you forward then it could easily slip into a time of depression, loneliness and isolation. Be ultra aware of what you’re doing and what you’re not doing.
A gap year is about figuring out where you want to be in the world. This could involve things like travel, joining different groups, taking a class, moving to a different town, doing volunteer work, meeting new people. Whatever it is, you have a year to explore and try new things.
Financials like food and rent must be discussed openly with your parent or guardian and you need to put your best foot forward at each and every place you work, even if it’s temporary.
You’re now a young adult out in the working world and it’s up to you to listen and learn. This is how you grow.
Graduation time is full of parties and laughter but real life comes quickly, whether you’re ready or not. One thing I’ll tell you too is that both you and your world will evolve over time. Decisions made today do not need to restrict you for a lifetime. I’ve made major career changes more than once.
Life is meant to be lived. Go do it.
Congratulations to all the 2019 graduates, the world is yours.