When one door closes, another opens.
That’s why the words “graduation” and “commencement” are interchanged. As the Class of 2008 leaves high school, most grads already know where they’re headed for their next adventures. Some will go straight into the workforce. Many are bound for college or a vocational school.
Meanwhile, for the high school Class of 2009, it’s time to start narrowing down those choices.
In a two-part series, we’ll share tips from counselors at Redmond High School (RHS) about leaving home for the first time and how to avoid common pitfalls. We’ll also explore why state universities are becoming more and more selective, and how next year’s high school seniors can better cope with the pressure to get that coveted acceptance letter.
Our interview subjects were Cheryl Dennis, head counselor at RHS and counselor for students whose last names begin with A-E; Jen Murdock, counselor for students with last names from F-Ld and Ellen Zambrowsky-Huls, counselor for students with last names from Le-Rh.
SWEET AND SOUR
College-bound students typically are thrilled at the notion of getting away from the same old surroundings — and to be blunt, away from their parents. But as parents and even current college students know, the delicious taste of freedom can go sour if or when inevitable problems arise on campus.
Who among us hasn’t had at least one roommate from hell?
And at this year’s Redmond Youth Summit, high school students and adult panelists chatted about other things that secretly, or not-so-secretly worry young adults who’ll be on their own, maybe far from home, for the first time this fall. Things like managing their time, managing their money, resisting the temptation to party too much — or even doing laundry.
PRACTICE LIFE SKILLS
High school grads may be too proud to admit that they’ve got a few pre-college jitters. Their parents may teeter between feeling overprotective or not doing enough to help them “fly solo” in a new environment.
Dennis recommended, “Students should take advantage of summer orientations, placement testing and visits to the campus. Parents, go to the parent programs. Don’t be intrusive, but be good listeners when that call comes, when the student is crying, feeling lonely or overwhelmed. Send a ‘care package’ with plenty to share, because sharing fosters friendships. Listen, listen, listen.”
Parents should expect that there will be conflicts, if not with roommates, then perhaps with a professor, she continued. “This is when problem-solving skills and trust need to come into play.”
Murdock agreed, “Developmentally, this is the time for students to be proactive, to start doing things on their own. If they’re having a problem, encourage them to go to an advising office.”
Zambrowsky-Huls added, “Practice before they leave. Have the student make the phone calls if there’s a question about the dorm room. Have the student research a list of what’s on the campus before they go.”
Most college Web sites have blogs where students can find information such as where to do laundry and where to the find best pizza, Murdock noted.
Or if you have a friend who’s back this summer from their first year at college, invite them to dinner and pick their brain about the pros and cons of the college student experience, Zambrowsky-Huls suggested.
Regarding money management, if the student has never had a checking account, sign up for one ASAP and take the summer to help him or her get acclimated to bookkeeping.
Knowledge is power, whether it’s “book knowledge” or how to cope with those everyday chores, the counselors agreed.
BUT DON’T OVERDO IT
Preparing for your child’s big move to college can be scary for parents, but in the midst of trying to adjust, “have fun,” Dennis emphasized. “Don’t try to re-teach the whole 18 years of their life in this one summer.”
Know that they’ll encounter stumbling blocks but trust that they will learn the same way we did — by trial and error.
In the next edition of the Redmond Reporter, look for ideas to help high school seniors find their footing in the slippery college application process.