The end of high school can be a bittersweet time for both you and your parents.

You’ve come such a long way and have so much to look forward to in just a few short months. As high school ends and college draws near, you’ll likely experience a range of emotions—sometimes all in the same day. The good news: It’s all normal. Here are a few things you may be feeling in the weeks before and after graduation day.


It’s been a long year, hasn’t it? Between college admissions season, standardized tests, challenging courses, extracurricular activities, and senior year events, you may not have had a moment to catch your breath. As you reach the end, it’s all catching up with you, and you realize that you could really use some downtime!


Once the end is finally here, that means a whole new beginning looms ahead. Sometimes that’s terrifying. Parents might be worried that they didn’t prepare you well enough to leave their nest. And you might be frightened about moving to a place where you don’t know anyone. Just remember that every soon-to-be freshman is probably feeling the same thing as you, and it wasn’t too long ago that you had the same anxious feelings when you started high school. You survived back then, and you’ll make it through those first months of college, too.


Submitting that last paper is a great feeling. Taking that last final exam is pretty liberating as well. The happiness you feel is the weight of all those textbooks you’ve been studying being taken off your shoulders. Let your laptop stay closed for a few weeks. Spend time with family and friends. Enjoy your hobbies again. You’ve earned it.


As you enjoy all the “lasts” and get to soak it all in, you’re going to start to get nostalgic. You might even miss the odd-smelling cafeteria, first-period gym, and that history teacher with the grueling pop quizzes. Parents may also get weepy thinking about how their baby is suddenly graduating high school. As much as you’re looking forward to a new chapter, part of you probably wishes you could start again from the beginning.


You’ll have a few. Whether it’s classes you never got to take, people you waited too long to become friends with, or that you didn’t do your best when you first got to high school, there will be things you wish you did differently. Although you can’t go back, you can reflect on the lessons learned and memories made.


Once the graduation parties are over, you’ll have a whole summer to get ready for and imagine all the possibilities that college will bring. Know that you’ll likely ping-pong between all of these emotions even when you get to campus in the fall. It’s a sign you’re on the adventure that is college life.


Before you know it, you’ll be walking on stage to accept your diploma, an achievement that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Regardless of how many As you have on your transcript, you were able to pack a ton of learning into the past few years. Think about how far you’ve come since freshman year. That doesn’t just apply to the classroom. You’ve grown in how you approach relationships, how you show up in the world, and how you are going forward into your adult life. You’ve worked hard to get here, so enjoy the moment.

Applying to college? We can help.
Start Here