Graduation can manifest overwhelming feelings

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

By Joy Hanna

High school classes are designed to give you a well-rounded education and to help you learn more about yourself. Although most think of graduation as an exciting and wonderful culminating event to close out high school, many fail to recognize the other emotions evoked by this transition time. It indeed is an exciting period in a student’s life; however, students will feel an array of emotions when graduating. Along with excitement, pride, and anticipation, students will also often feel loss, discouragement, and fear leading up to or even during graduation.

Students often grapple with the uncertainty of the future and ask themselves questions such as “What do I want to do?” In thinking over one’s past and planning for the future, feelings of discouragement and even despair may surface. 

Oftentimes, we wonder if we have chosen the “right major” or the “right college.” We also worry about how we will afford college or pay off loans, which leaves us to wonder if we should have tried harder in high school now that it is too late. 

The main reason that individuals get a diploma is to have better career opportunities. While the numbers may vary depending upon your job, it is clear that the more education you obtain, the better your chances to earn more income. A college education can serve as the foundation for the rest of your life. 

Even if you don’t plan to go to college, finishing your high school degree will help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. When you make a decision about your next steps, you can apply your high school learning to a career path that’s the best fit for you.

All this thinking about how our current grades and college admission will affect our futures is often heavy and overwhelming. So it is important to come up with coping strategies. 

First, it’s important to expect that these emotions will come up and that it is perfectly normal to feel more than just happiness.  Remind yourself of your accomplishments and try not to minimize the goals you have reached for yourself. Sure the future is big and unknowable, but your past achievements are big too; celebrate them. 

Second, express your feelings to someone else. Talk to a friend, a parent, a sibling, or someone in your life who cares about how you are feeling. Furthermore, although it could be easy to forget the main benefits of high school, a high school diploma represents the hard work you put into your learning experiences. It’s important not to underestimate the power of your education.