Fish out of water


photo by Faith Marino

Senior Daniel Balasquide receives a medal at the Honors Graduation Ceremony on April 14. The graduation ceremony for all students will be held on May 14.

You walk across the stage to receive your high school diploma, looking out into the audience to see your family cheer and throwing your cap in the air, marking the end of an era. But the big question lingers in the back of your brain: what’s next?

Knowing what to do or where to go after high school has proven to be difficult for many seniors. Within a year, seniors are expected to grow up enough to survive on their own. This expectation is frightening for people like senior Avery Sullivan, who plans to attend Dean College in Massachusetts.

“Everything is happening so fast,” Sullivan said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to begin a new chapter… but leaving is just crazy to think about.”

As College Decision Day approaches, many seniors have committed to their school of choice and begun planning the next four years of their future. Tremendous amounts of pressure are being placed on them, being pushed to make decisions about orientations, dorms, Greek life and classes as soon as possible. On top of that, being enrolled in college takes time away from other things, such as internships and jobs.

“A new college schedule will definitely throw me off,” senior Natasha Nilsen said. “I will have to completely change my daily routines.”

Going to a college out-of-state is a game changer. Senior Natalia Cruz, who is attending Kennesaw State University in Georgia, is concerned about the social aspect of moving away. Though there are opportunities to interact with other students, forming a genuine connection can be tough.

“Moving to a new state for college will definitely pull me out of my comfort zone,” Cruz said. “I won’t know anyone and I’ll have to make new friends.”

However, college is not the only option after high school. Many students have opted to take more untraditional routes, such as joining the military. Being enlisted in the military comes with many benefits, such as free college tuition, living arrangements and insurance, as well as a chance to travel the world while making money. Senior Freddie Hohmann has chosen to enter the Navy after graduation.

“I always thought I would go to college, but as I was going through the application process, I realized I didn’t want to do that,” she said.

Gap years are also a viable option for high school graduates. They allow additional time to decide their career path, as well as create time to save up money for elevated financial stability. Many people use gap years to discover more about themselves and what they are good at, such as senior Maria Raptis.

“[It] will give me time to explore different options such as entrepreneurship, mission trips and research in fields I’m interested in,” Raptis said.

With all the cons of growing up and moving on, there are still some significant pros. Experiencing true independence, becoming more decisive and setting up a life path are among the best things that come after high school, especially when attending an out-of-state college.

“I love it here, but I feel like I need to grow on my own, and I can’t do that in Florida,” Sullivan said. “I want to put myself out there and see how things play out.”