Life After High School

Lauren Schulman

There’s a thing about high school: it always comes to an end. We all constantly worry about what to do after we take our last steps into young adulthood when really, there is nothing to worry about. Most of us know how it goes: get into college, graduate and pursue a career. Almost everyone in high school has that “planning their future” mentality. But to put the seniors, juniors, and underclassmen at ease, I sought out some graduated seniors from the classes of 2016- 2017. I anticipated that there would be many different paths the alumni could take, so I made sure to get the story from various perspectives. Because it is the most common plan of graduating RHS seniors, we will start with the people who went to college. I interviewed Jack Boudreau (Hobart and William Smith College, Radnor Class of 2017), Jess Braccili (West Chester University, Radnor Class of 2016), Emily Goldman (McDaniel College, Radnor Class of 2017), Anna Klimowicz (Delaware County Community College, Radnor Class of 2016), and Kristen Dressel (Temple University, Radnor Class of 2016).

 

What was it like first stepping on campus?

Jack Boudreau: A bunch of overly enthusiastic people greeted me for orientation. I wanted them to go away personally, but I went with it. They made me do hopscotch. I did it successfully and earned a round of applause. But orientation went pretty well.

Jess Braccili: It was scary, actually. And you didn’t know your way around, and you had to figure everything out.

Emily Goldman: Personally, I visited my school about three times before I started here as a student, but stepping onto campus and getting ready for classes for the first time was slightly overwhelming, but I got over the nervousness relatively quickly.

Anna Klimowicz: Campus was pretty interesting. I thought it was such a cool campus. I automatically felt more freedom just by the vibe the school gave off.

Kristen Dressel: It was really intimidating first stepping on campus, especially at a big school. There’s so many people and so much going on it’s overwhelming, but it’s also extremely exciting.

 

How has college life treated you as much as you have been there?

Jack Boudreau: Everyone is really friendly and always says hi when you walk by, even if I barely know them. The professors are pretty nice too, and aren’t as bad of people as high school seems to describe them as.

Jess Braccili: It’s pretty good. I got a later start because I dropped out my first semester, and I came back, so it has been better.

Emily Goldman: One thing that I have found slightly challenging at my school (being in the area that it is located) is finding things to do off campus on the weekends. But aside from that, college life has been so much fun, and I have met so many people that I am excited to share the next four years with.

Anna Klimowicz: College has been alright. It obviously sucks because it is school, but like I said before, there’s so much more freedom. You can pick and choose when you want to take classes (if you sign up for them early enough), and you don’t need to have a class everyday.

Kristen Dressel: College life is really amazing if you can handle it. It takes a lot of maturity and time management skills. As long as you’re keeping up with your work and also handling yourself well, it’s a blast and a totally different world than high school.

 

What is the best thing about college?

Jack Boudreau: Getting to actually learn what you want and the freedom involved. It’s a great feeling knowing you can do whatever you want in your spare time.

Jess Braccili: The freedom, definitely making friends.

Emily Goldman: The best thing about college in my opinion is the freedom and independence that I get to experience. I am living up to my own expectations that I have set for myself and reach goals that help me to become a better student.

Anna Klimowicz: Probably the people you meet there. Radnor is about 1,200 people (give or take), and everyone knows each other in one way or another. In college, you know literally nobody. You go into a classroom, and you don’t recognize anyone (in my case at least). But I’ve met some pretty cool people since I’ve been in college.

Kristen Dressel: Freedom is the best thing about college as long as you can handle it, which a lot of people honestly can’t. But you decide your time, money, classes, friends, and it’s amazing to not have anyone tell you no.

 

What do you miss most about high school?

Jack Boudreau: Some of my friends and a few fun teachers. That’s about it.

Jess Braccili: Honestly only LM. That’s the only reason.

Emily Goldman: I really miss the people (teachers/friends) and their support that they had given me over the years. My college has a ton of support as well, but it is just a little different in the way that they deliver it to you.

Anna Klimowicz: I miss high school a lot. What I miss most is probably my friend group in high school, because everyone’s separated.

Kristen Dressel: I miss my parents helping me in high school. In college you’re on your own. Nobody makes sure you have your homework done or groceries in the fridge. Nobody cooks for you, cleans for you, or takes you to the doctor if you’re sick. You’re really on your own.

 

If you had to go back and do everything differently, what is one aspect of your high school experience you would change?

Jack Boudreau: Not much. I am where I am now because of the work I did, so I don’t think I’d change it. Maybe party more, but it’s not a huge loss.

Jess Braccili: Probably my grades.

Emily Goldman: If I could go back and change something about my high school experience, I would try and up my motivation the last couple years of school and work harder on my study skills to get them to a college level.

Anna Klimowicz: I would’ve done more work in high school honestly. I feel like my high school experience would’ve gone a lot smoother if I did all of my work and attended all my classes, but everyone makes mistakes. Haha Hannah Montana.

Kristen Dressel: If I had to go back and change everything, I would have not rushed through high school to get to college. I would have lived more in the moment and appreciated what I had then.

 

Any closing comments for the people of RHS?

Jack Boudreau: Love you Ala! Hope you’re happy, and make sure to enjoy the small things like I did!

Jess Braccili: I would say just take it slow in college when you start.

Emily Goldman: High school has really prepared me in ways that you don’t realize until you get to college. If you are worried about not living up to the expectations of the college, I promise that when you get there, you will rise to the occasion and do what you need to do, especially if you commit to it.

Anna Klimowicz: Really enjoy your experience. Appreciate it, because once you graduate, you’ll never experience something like high school again. I didn’t realize how much I was going to miss high school until after I graduated.

Kristen Dressel: Last things would be take your time!!! You will miss high school one way or another once you get to college, and you don’t want to have any regrets or wish you did anything differently, so relax and enjoy high school.

Now it’s time to look at the people who took a gap year for high school. Unfortunately, I was unable to find many people who took a gap year and wanted to be interviewed. However, I did find one person who was willing to have a chat with me about his gap year experience. He is a graduate from the class of 2016 but would prefer to stay anonymous. Here is his experience.

 

Was it hard not being in college?

2016 Graduate: Depends on your situation. A friend of mine left Drexel because of the pressures and in turn, now has to pay his mom $400 to live at home. So for him, it’s very hard working to afford his own life and rent he has to pay. Whereas for me, I was more fortunate. I don’t have to pay rent, but I still finance many of my own lifestyles. I work roughly 30 hours a week, which is very stressful being on my feet a lot, but work has paid for my car, phone, phone bill, groceries and other expenses.

 

How did not being in college affected your life?

2016 Graduate: To me this gap year has put into perspective just how hard a blue collar citizen has to work to afford their own living expenses. Many people make as much money hourly as I do from working 40hrs-60hrs a week, often times at two different jobs so that employers can avoid paying overtime and offering insurance to full time employees.

 

Do you have any plans for the future?

2016 Graduate: There’s too much uncertainty in my life to try and guarantee myself any successful future life plans. I hope I can utilize my current hobbies and interests to at some point with experience, wiggle into some type of job market that pays better than average $9 per hour. My plans for the future consist of nothing other than the pursuit of financial independence. Hopefully not working 50hrs a week at a cafe to afford a single bedroom apartment without health insurance or a 401k.

 

If you had to go back and do everything differently, what is one aspect of your high school experience you would change?

2016 Graduate: There’s nothing I could have changed. There were many reasons life played out the way it did. I was a troubled student, and Radnor, nor any public or private school has the capability to figure out why I was troubled or how to truly fix the problem. They did everything they could in their power, and so did I. I would have had to be born in a different life in order for this to have played out differently.

 

Any closing comments for the people of RHS?

2016 Graduate: Don’t make poor investments, and treat others kindly. Don’t let evil overcome you, and be grateful.

 

From what I understand, a gap year is a time when many people take to plot out their futures, decide what they want to do, or gain the finances in order to put themselves through college. No one needs to know what they want to do right away, and there is no obligation to figure yourself out very quickly. Some may need a year, and some may not. But regardless of whether you go to college, don’t go to college, or take a gap year is up to you. Even if you need to take a gap year to figure out who you want to be in this life, everything is going to be okay. Though some may have the support from their families and peers, some might not. It’s really all about slowing your life down and not making decisions you regret. And those who go to college have a tough road ahead as well. They will have exams, interviews, and what seems like a lifetime of working towards their degree. Whether you take the road towards college, a gap year, or not going to school at all, there will be tough work ahead. Life is not a thing you can skate through; it takes hard work and commitment. There is so much opportunity and potential waiting after high school — it’s all about how you decide to seize it. There is life after high school, so go live it.