Graduates face difficult choices, and experiences after leaving high school

By Laura Hines
Oct. 21, 2014

Shanda Smith knows moving on after high school can be a challenging transition.
Moving to college is hard because you’re now living on your own, she said.
“Just getting used to everything, the adjustment of living on my own, making friends and leaving my friends are hardest part.”
Smith is a second year nursing student from Brooklyn N.S. at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
The beginning of first year is the hardest, then you realize you’re not that far from home and you’ll get to go back home, she said.
“I have learned to appreciate what I have much more and not take things for granted.”
It’s not just students heading to university who face changes in their social circles, said Holland College guidance counselor Tom Corcoran.
“We pick our friends or our partners from the people who we’re with every day. That changes dramatically when you leave high school. Whether it’s going to work or going to school.”
People and their relationships change as they experience new things, said Corcoran.
“We look through things with new experiences that we’ve had.”
When people are exposed to things they’ve never been exposed to before, things look alluring, for both boys and girls, said Corcoran.
“The pool is larger, different and it’s very normal.”
It affects families too because students bring the new experiences back home, he said.
“It’s a very different world you’re thrown into. You’re almost not the same person.”
families and friends usually see the first big changes after being separated from these people for a couple months on the Thanksgiving weekend.
It’s not uncommon for students to break up with high school sweethearts over the break, something that has been done for years, said Corcoran.
The practice is often called the turkey drop.
“The issue isn’t the turkey, the issue is leaving high school. School has been such a part of your life for 12 or 13 years and all of a sudden it’s over. You’re not supposed to be different. The worlds expectations are you’re a big girl now or you’re a big boy now”
Erica Porter faced the reality of not seeing their high school friends, people she was once with every day, and not anymore. She graduated from Avon View High School in Windsor N.S., in 2013.
“I graduated high school four months earlier, in February, and began working in March. So it was a big shock. I wasn’t seeing my friends every day. I was too busy and tired. Plus, going from only doing schoolwork every day to working twice a day every day, including weekends, was hard.”
It’s easy to stay in contact with friends with the use of social media, she said.
“My friends and I contact pretty much every day, social media is great that way.”
Although Porter has faced challenges, she feels she hasn’t changed much.
“I think the way I handle situations now, rather than in high school, is more mature. I don’t think my values have changed.”
Porter takes online courses at the Nova Scotia Community College, on top of working. She’s happy with her choices.
“I love my home, and I love going to visit my friends away for a few days. I’d rather come home after away visiting my friends than visit my home, then go back away.”
As for Smith, it took some time to adjust to the changes, but social media is great a way to talk to old peers, she said.
“I talk to high school friends who I know have got my back over Facebook, text, Sype and Snapchat and I have some good friends that help me through school.”