Confronting change

Transition from high school to college involves inevitable instability

As Minnehaha’s class of 2022 wraps themselves in their red polyester gowns, tug graduation caps snug over their heads and shoo the gold and white tassels out of their faces, they begin to conclude their adolescent years. 

As the bright-eyed graduates step off the stage with diploma in hand, they may wonder, ‘what comes next?’

While the next steps will be different for every graduate, their paths share one common characteristic. They will all undergo significant changes. Whether that change be moving to college, taking a gap year or staying close to home, life will not be the same. 

Know yourself

Some people seem to deal with change more smoothly than others. Why?

“I think it’s super individual,” said Minnehaha counselor Christine Paton. “Personality has a lot to do with it.”

Personality traits, such as outgoingness, flexibility and resilience, can heavily influence how one deals with change. 

“Depending on what your personality is, like if you’re a really easy-going, flexible person, you know, you kind of like change,” said Paton. “If you’re risk averse, you’re not going to love change, right? Because that’s scary. Your personality is like ‘no, I like routine. I like structure. Change really throws me’.” 

Junior Nick Katasonov views change positively. 

“I think change is pretty great,” said Katasonov. “I mean, I think it’s necessary. We are all gonna have changes in our lives, especially after high school and when we all face new paths.” 

Major vs. minor change

Regardless of one’s personality, some changes are difficult to deal with and can deeply affect their well-being.

“I also think that some changes are actually traumatic,” said Paton. “It depends on what level of change it is.”  

The most common forms of traumatic changes may include breakups, divorces, new marriages with a step parent or unexpectedly transferring schools. 

“It is traumatic change that I see students having a harder time with,” said Paton.

Venturing off to college is usually classified as an eagerly awaited and exciting opportunity. Nevertheless, it can still be nerve racking. 

“I’m nervous, very nervous,” said senior Rebekah Hoyle, who is attending Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York next fall. “It’s excited nerves, but also my nerves are kind of unsettling to me because I’m a friendly, introverted person. I’m able to hold a conversation well, but I don’t like being in big groups of people. In order to have a positive college experience and find your people, you have to be able to do that kind of stuff. So, I feel like pushing myself out of my comfort zone is going to be the biggest thing for me.”

When experiencing any change, especially the transition from high school to college, it is important to allow yourself time to adapt.

Be patient

“Give it time,” said Paton. “Be open to new experiences. Be open to new people. Don’t have set expectations. Have fun. Enjoy the system. College is the best. It’s so fun.”

The high school years prior to college are filled with change as well. Whether it be changes amongst one’s family environment, personal life or social circle, change is inevitable.  

“I would say let it happen,” said Hoyle. “You’re gonna find your new friends. The friends that you’re friends with freshman year most likely aren’t going to be the friends you have senior year. As sad as that kind of sounds, it changes the kind of person you are. It builds your character, it really does.” 

Although high school years can be treacherous and dreadful, enjoy the positive experiences. 

“I remember the seniors at Mendota, [the class of 2019], gave an assembly and they talked about how fast highschool goes,” recalled Hoyle. “I literally looked at them like they were crazy. I was like, ‘no it doesn’t. I have four years of this.’ Now, looking back, this is crazy, like there’s now way I’m 18 right now. It just goes by so fast.” 

A student’s high school years, filled with challenges and changes, go by quicker than imagined. It may be beneficial to embrace the changes one can, similar to Hoyle and Katasonov. 

“Initially, I believed [transferring schools] to be really great,” said Katasonov, “But now… it’s still great!”



About Ann Oakman

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