Advertisement

Fear Of Graduation


Picture this: you are in a room with a door on either end. The nearest one, through which you have entered, is still open. The other one is closed. Somehow, you know that when you close the nearby door, the lights will go out. You're scared. All you have to do is cross the room to open the other door, but even this simple action requires a tremendous leap of faith. 

No, we're not talking about death, but another big transition: high school graduation. "It's the fear that your life will not be in total control," says Bobbi Vogel, a family therapist. 

When a teenager leaves high school and goes to college, for the first time they will be in charge of their own laundry, meals, transportation, health, maybe even their own finances, and this can seem overwhelming. They will be the only one ensuring that they to get to class on time; they’ll be largely setting their own curfew. 

This creates a real ambivalence: they're excitedly looking forward to the freedom, the choices, the lack of instructions, but at the same time, this lack of structure can be scary. 

According to Vogel, another part of the fear is separation anxiety, particularly if a student is going to a school far away from home.

"Some teens have a fear that this is the first time they're going to be separated for a long period of time from their family and friends, their support system," she says. "What happens if I get into a funk or something and I want to come home and it's 3000 miles away, and Mom says I can only come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter?"

Megan Carlyle, 16, explains, "The thing I've mostly thought about is leaving my friends because my friends at my school are so... I don't know we just have these deep friendships that I would feel I was missing something if I didn't see these people every day."

Even though he's planning to live at home, high school student Jeff Stitch says, "When I think about it, I don't really want to graduate. Both because of the people I'm leaving behind and the unknown of what's out there." 

Some teens find a family away from home by joining a sorority or fraternity at college. Others make many friends in the dorm, where, after all, everyone is on equal footing in those first few lonely days. 

"But it's not as systemized as in high school where you start at a certain point and you end with the same amount of kids”, explains Vogel. 

According to a college counselor at a Los Angeles-area private school, graduation stress builds steadily throughout the career of a college prep school student. From ninth grade on, she points out, "They see college posters on the bulletin boards, college directors and deans come to visit each fall, college catalogs are in the library in a prominent place. It's part of life.”

"I'll walk across the courtyard and say `How are you doing?’ and they'll say, `I'm studying for the SAT.' A semester before, the topic of conversation was ‘What are you doing this weekend?’, now it's ‘What schools are you looking at?’ and ‘What kind of summer program are you going to?’."

Though 11th grade is the hardest year, that's when students prepare for the SAT and have to begin making important decisions, fear of graduation hits strongest during the second half of senior year. 

The fear is also about the failure of not getting into the college of their choice. Some very bright students start slacking off and, fully in denial, won't apply until the very last minute.Family problems may exacerbate at this time also. Dinner table talk is mostly about college. Both teens and their parents have been known to cry at such times. 

It may help teens to do something related to college, such as initiate a conversation with their parents, start working on an essay or bring home details of an upcoming college tour.  

The height of graduation fear occurs just before the big event, notes one counselor. That's when everyone starts talking about all the memories. When it's "the last assembly”, or the last whatever, it hits them: this time next year they won't be there.

Be the first to review this item!


Bookmark this

10 Aug 2016


By Susan K. Perry

Recent Articles more articles

The Moment I Became a Mom

in Family Life, Amy Delaney

There are many milestones in the international adoption process–home study completion, being matched with your child, receiving updates, getting the travel call. However, the single biggest milestone for me was never logged on a calendar, even though

Make Time For Yourself

in Amelia Laprairie

Being a mom is a roller coaster of emotions. There’s happiness while watching the little ones grow, followed by my sadness because of the realization of how fast it happens. There’s anticipation of wanting them to reach milestones, followed by the ne

Sleepaway for Mama: Leaving My Daughters Overnight for the First Time

in Things To Do, Family Life, Mari Walker

In more than seven and a half years of parenting, I had never left my children overnight until recently. Other than her recent trip to pony camp, the only time I was away from my older daughter was when my younger daughter was born. I stayed in the h

Sure Signs You’re a Mom to School-Aged Children

in Family Life, Amy Delaney, School

It’s August–do you know where your school supply list is?! This school year snuck up on us like no other. We moved in May and our summer was literally turned upside down, and now it’s August and school is upon us. As I entered the scramble to prepare

Featured Listings more listings

Parkview Baptist School

Parkview Baptist School

in Private Schools

Parkview Baptist provides an education with an eternal foundation.

Inspire Charter Academy

in Charter Schools

We believe children with a strong moral character and excellent college preparation will excel in any path they choose. We achieve this through our program built on the pillars of moral focus, academic excellence, personal responsibility and parental

Jump N Jive

Jump N Jive

in Party Venues

Jump N Jive is home of the stress-free birthday party. When you plan your child's birthday party with Jump N Jive, they will provide a venue with two separate rooms featuring wall-to-wall inflatables for all of the kiddos to bounce around on. With Ju

St. Thomas More Catholic School

in Private Schools

Saint Thomas More Catholic School is committed to continuing a legacy of excellence in religious and academic education in a nurturing environment that fosters self-discipline.

Advertisement
Newsletter