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How Do Things Change From High School to the Real World?

by Katherine Bradley, studioD

Graduation from high school marks a tremendous life change that can be bittersweet. Graduates have significantly more autonomy and are viewed as adults by society's standards. However, they may miss the predictability of their day-to-day activities, the nurturing school environment with numerous build-in safety nets, and the security of an extensive social network. This abrupt transition to the real-world can be difficult. Knowing beforehand what awaits can help you better prepared to deal with the anxiety and stress of adult life.

Day-to-Day Activities

Day-to-day activities after graduation are not compulsory. Graduates must take control of their own destiny, exercise self-discipline and map their own plan for life. There will be no one there to insist that you get out of bed in the morning to attend college classes, look for a job or even to go to work. You must be self-motivated to make the most of each day, no matter what the day entails. Society's expectation is that young adults work or attend school on the road to self-sufficiency.

Financial Responsibility

Young adults are often expected to assume financial responsibility for themselves after graduation, although some new graduates are fortunate enough to have support from family members. If the young adult has chosen a vocational path and will earn a steady income, budgeting expenses will be an important task. For those individuals who have opted for college, they may or may not have postponed assuming total financial responsibility, but after college graduation, that day will come.

Social Changes

The social world of a new graduate has the potential to change significantly -- and immediately. If you choose to attend college, there will be a reduction in the amount of time available for social life, as more time will likely be devoted to academic pursuits, work or internships. The graduate that goes immediately to work will also have less time available for a social life since the work day may be longer than a school day, and they may have access to fewer people in their peer group.

Responsibility for the Future

Whether you decide to attend college or to enter the working world, you will be expected to assume responsibility for the forward progress and the direction of your life. Students in college make choices that will help mold their future -- which classes to take, which major to declare, and whether graduate school will be necessary. Young adults who are in the work force will make decisions that help to determine their potential for advancement -- building a stellar attendance and work record, taking professional development courses and building a professional network.

About the Author

Katherine Bradley began writing in 2006. Her education and leadership articles have been published on Education.com, Montessori Leadership Online and the Georgia Educational Researcher. Bradley completed a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Mercer University in 2009.

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