An Open Letter to Graduates

First of all, congratulations! You’ve made it through the seemingly impossible and are now about to begin some of the most important and transformative years of your life.

As a graduate of the Class of 2016, I know how anxious you are to leave home, be on your own for the first time and have all sorts of freedoms that you didn’t have before. However, there are some things I want you to keep in mind.

Although you may not realize it now, you will miss your parents. You’ll miss their home-cooked meals, you’ll miss their little unique ways of making you smile and you’ll likely even miss them telling you to clean your room.

As you go through the final days of high school, cherish every moment you spend with your friends. Realistically, you won’t see them as much as you had planned over the summer, and it’s very probable that some of the relationships you have right now won’t last the months-long gap until you see them again, especially if they’re moving far away. Everyone’s going to have to adapt to a new schedule, so talking to them as much as you planned probably isn’t going to happen much either.
But, if you’re close, your relationships will continue to grow no matter how far away you guys are from each other.

Don’t rush the last few weeks you have with your parents. Spend time with them, talk to them about things and use the time you have left to grow even closer together. You will miss them more than you ever think you will and you’ll likely long for the days that you didn’t have to worry about feeding yourself, taking care of yourself and being a real adult.

If you’re unsure of what you want to do, what you want to major in, that’s okay. That’s what general education classes are for. Take some time, take a variety of classes that interest you, join a few clubs or extracurriculars on campus, perhaps even participate in an intramural sport. You’ll figure it out soon enough, but putting pressure on yourself to have a set path for the rest of your adult life will likely lead to you making a hasty decision that will leave you unhappy in whatever field you’ve chosen.

You’re never really going to know what you’re doing. Honestly. Some days you’ll feel as if you have everything together, and others will feel as if everything is falling apart.

If you’re not going straight into a four-year university, maybe you’re taking a gap year or going to community college first: everything still applies, because one day you will be starting college, or transferring somewhere, and there will come a day (sooner than you think) where you’re on your own for the first time, missing everything you were growing so annoyed with just a few months, maybe even weeks prior.

The whole process is scary. I’ve done it, I know. I also know how much I wanted it during the last few weeks of my senior year. Though I don’t really think I rushed the process all that much, I know for sure that there’s a lot more I wished I would have done and taken the time to appreciate when I had the chance.

Cailynn Knabenshue

Cailynn Knabenshue is a Communication Intern at Center for Powerful Public Schools. She produces digital content and research for the Center. Previously, she created digital content for the Los Angeles Times.