As graduation looms, parents can expect a bit (or a lot) of student anxiety about their future. Not surprisingly, you will share this excitement and anxiety. You can also expect your student to experience stress about the final steps toward graduation. Senior year is often a time of reflection on the past as a preparation point for the future. Students transition to adulthood and become citizens of the world. Some students are eager for the challenges ahead, some go kicking and screaming into the world, and most approach senior year with a mixture of excitement, anticipation and dread. Academically, senior year often poses intense demands and deadlines and students frequently fear failure. Remain supportive and patient with your student—they're in the home stretch! Frequent senior year challenges include:
Academic and Career Challenges
- Commitment to a career and getting a job
- Fear of failure pre- and post-graduation
- Intense academic loads
- Bridging the gap between academic and extracurricular experiences
- Separation from friends and other relationships that have defined them through the past four years
- Questions about maintenance of romantic relationships following graduation (i.e. marriage, long-distance relationships, breaking up)
Personal and Other Concerns
- Some students will question whether to leave the Saratoga area or remain
- Choices about where to live and how
- Clarification of values
- Determining school loan debt and other financial responsibilities for the future
How Will This Impact My Relationship With My Student?
These experiences described above are a normal and expected part of your student's development. Because of these new experiences, the nature of your relationship with your student is likely to change. While each relationship is different, you might be aware of some of these changes:
- As your student faces new challenges or defeats, you might expect a need for more verbal reassurance. However, because your son or daughter is becoming more independent, you can anticipate occasional strong negative reactions to your suggestions. It is sometimes frustrating for parents and family members to go through the growth process with their students, not knowing how to be helpful and receiving messages which are unclear or incomplete. Students can add to the uncertainty by changing rapidly—rejecting your help on Tuesday and actively seeking it on Wednesday.
- In adjusting to the demands of college, you might expect differences in your student's involvement at home and with family.
- As your student finds his/her own way, you may also experience your own mixture of emotions: fear, pride, frustration, abandonment, joy, etc.