High school principals and teachers value all of the experiences, activities and opportunities that students have along the way, but make no mistake, the end goal is to give students their diplomas.
When that day and hour arrives, the moment is indescribable! Parents, grandparents, friends and former teachers all raise their heads to acknowledge their students and how proud they are of them for attaining this rite of passage.
Students are capped and gowned. Teachers and other staff have taken their various places for the ceremony but also to do what they do best, help students even in this most anxious time to make this very special event—the best ever. There is an electricity and buzz in the air like no other.
As you work toward this most prestigious accomplishment, here are some things to think about:
What am I doing to reach my graduation goal—right now?
If my grades are not what I want them to be, what can I change in my study habits, right now, that will lead to better grades?
If I need tutor help, who can I turn to, to make this happen?
Graduation opens an infinite number of opportunities and adventures! And remember, the teachers and staff are there to help you reach that goal.
In sports competition, what is the most important play?
You are likely to get many different answers depending on who you ask. However, to most coaches, the correct response they want from their athletes is, “the next play”.
This is a vital message coaches need to communicate to his/her team and individual players. Participants cannot be focused on what previously took place on the field, court, etc. All of their attention needs to be on what is going on in present time. If an athlete is still thinking about what just happened—either positive or negative—it takes away from their concentration on the next action.
Similarly, as you work on your academics, it is important to keep your focus on what you are currently doing. If you just had a grade you really like or one that was not so fantastic, you need to refocus and get your attention on what you are doing now. This enables you to do the best you can on the current project, assignment, test, or evaluation.
Learn from your past and prepare for your future, but focus on what you are learning today!
I recently read a New York Times opinion piece titled Rethinking College Admissions, which discussed a report that suggested college admission requirements need to be more than exam scores, grades and AP course completions. It asks—what is really important in our youth?
Throughout many years of teaching and counseling I have been honored to work with hard working, intelligent students who would have benefited from attending college but did not due to family responsibilities.
Some students worked part-time through high school and therefore could not participate in extra-curricular activities. The students were expected to help out with their own expenses of getting to school, clothing, school related expenses, etc. as a means to help the family.
Some students were caregivers to younger siblings, while their parent (s) worked a second job.
Some students were caregivers to a sibling, parent, or grandparent with a health or disability concerns.
The above situations often tugged at a student’s educational opportunities: extra-curricular activities, study time, camps and academic workshops, field trips that required more than school time, non-paid high school level internships, volunteer time, or the opportunity to take the most challenging AP courses/exams and dual credit offerings.
I am so proud of students who have consistently demonstrate family leadership, and I feel in my heart that their families were blessed with their efforts. These students have strong values to do what is best for their family, and they take on responsibilities that require maturity, organization skills and self-discipline.
If this is your story, I have an important message for you.
Know that colleges are very interested in these leadership qualities. Know that you will bring great value to a college campus. Know that there is a college anxious to have you as a student. Know that it is never too late to pursue post-secondary training. Believe in yourself as you are a valuable leader!