Smoothing the Transition for High School Grads
As high school graduations were celebrated this month, parents and new graduates have been thinking about the transition issues that inevitably arise as the summer before college rolls in. Some parents wonder if their son will ever learn to use the laundry machine or be able to boil rice. Others worry that they will no longer have easy access to their daughter’s medical records and grades, despite the fact they are paying the tuition and medical bills for their legally adult child. But most importantly, they worry about the social and emotional transition to college life during those first few months when their child goes off to college.
Nancy Pasquale, mother of a 2018 graduate and RyeACT Coalition Coordinator, acknowledged these inevitable feelings. “It’s normal to experience stress during times of transition. Gaining the perspective to know that stress is normal, and that there are positive, pro-social ways to address it, can be empowering for young people and their families.”
On a Tuesday evening, early in June, Lee Woodruff, with support from Shari Balaish and Jamie Jensen, led a workshop at The Rye Arts Center focused on putting your best self forward. The workshop grew out of a senior trip to Jamaica where parents talked frankly about the skills they thought their kids should have. With her signature humor, Woodruff filled a 70-minute workshop with film clips, anecdotes, and advice on everything you should think about when presenting yourself, including how you speak, hold your body, enter a room, and think about the story you want to tell.
Rising college senior Ori Balaish found the event very helpful. “Lee suggested that we need not <re–create> ourselves but think about it as <re-presenting> ourselves. That was the most important idea of the night for me. Every time you walk into a new interview, social situation, or networking event, Lee suggested you don’t need to change who you are, but rather think about how you want to present your true self differently.”
For Woodruff, who helps CEOs and other professionals prepare for media interviews and speeches, this was the first run of a workshop she created for young adults. Meeting a professor for the first time, interviewing for an internship, rushing a fraternity or sorority, or just making new friends are all opportunities for young college students to practice putting their best selves forward. As her two youngest children graduated from Rye High on June 16, this workshop was her way of giving back.
On June 18, The Rye Youth Council, with help from two Rye High alums/first-year college students, the Rye Free Reading Room, and the JED Foundation, hosted a formal panel on college transitions. Their aim: to help students be emotional prepared for college transitions. The topics included the essential summer checklist, understanding privacy laws for students 18 and older, and how to navigate student affairs, campus life, healthcare and counselling services. Panelists also provided insights on the changing relationships with your family and knowing when to seek help for yourself or a friend in need.
The workshop is part of a larger effort by the Rye Youth Council to focus in on transitions throughout the K-16 years.