Preparing for a Child’s Graduation

Published: Apr, 02 2019

If you have a daughter or son wrapping up their last semester of high school this year, you have a lot to get ready for during these upcoming months. This can be an incredibly hard time for parents who are dealing with their children growing up, leaving the nest, and moving on to the next chapter on their lives. Nevertheless, planning is of the utmost important to ensure that your child finishes high school strong, properly celebrates graduation, and equips themselves for college and beyond.

Finishing school strong

Many high school seniors feel that the last semester of senior year isn’t important––well, it is. College admissions are on the lookout for those students who are prone to slipping into the notorious syndrome of “senioritis” as they round home base. This is generally produced by a feeling of too much complacency in their position. Particularly if your child has been accepted to a prestigious college, they stand to have their offer rescinded should their final grades not reflect those which originally got them acceptance into the university.

One way to keep your kids on their toes is by instilling some personal responsibility in them. Given that they’ve been under the guidance and safety of your parenting until this time, feeding them to the wolves would be too much. However, baby stepping your child into adult independence is reasonable and beneficial to their future. Making them open their own checkings account and paying one of their own bills is a great way to start. A cell phone bill is recommended because it’s relatively cheap and something your child cares about. Even with a higher-end service provider and an unlimited data plan, your child’s portion shouldn’t come out to more than $40. They might resist this responsibility at first, but kindly explain to them that you’re still their parent and you are keeping their future in mind.

During these moments, there are often times when the parent-child relationship can become rocky due to high stress and personal disagreements. Therefore, doubling-down on communication is highly encourage to smooth over some of these rough patches. What’s most important is that the relationship stay intact, or become even stronger. Remember that it’s most important that everyone is able to understand where others are coming from, whether or not they disagree. The parent may get the ultimate decision, but if you can convey why you made a certain choice, and make your child feel heard regarding their preferences, you will take action as a team.

Preparing for next steps

As high school ends, college begins. And if you want the best outcome for your child, they need  to be preparing well in advance. As we all know, the college admissions process is far from simple, and very competitive. This is the most important time to be scouting out as many colleges as possible. Take the time to review all potential colleges your child might attend. Yes, this could mean taking a flight and seeing these colleges first hand. It’s not a bad idea to even schedule a college campus road trip and see them all together. That way, you can have them all fresh on your mind with the opportunity to compare and contrast. You can also visit the admissions departments, meet with advisors, and get a better sense of what it will take to gain acceptance to the respective universities.

When your child is finally on their own, there is going to be a lot of adjusting to their new lifestyle. Their stress levels will skyrocket as they learn budgeting, time management, and prioritizing at the same time as they take their first college courses. It will be far from easy. To help them hit the ground running, giving them additional duties while under your supervision will set them miles apart from their educational peers. A part-time job or a community service shift is a great way to achieve this. It could be part-time, for as little as 1-2 times per week. Especially if they’re living at home, learning to balance chores, their new job, class homework, and other obligations will shape them up to knock their freshman year out of the park. And now they’ll have a way to pay that cell phone bill you gave them! With their extra income, they’ll become comfortable with a certain standard of living which they won’t want to let go of in college, motivating them to keep working.

Another powerful tool for your child is a letter of recommendation. What you’ll want to do together is compile a list of all the people you know, what they do, you and your child’s relationship to them, and who they could potentially reach out to. It could be colleges or notable figures in the industry of your child’s dreams. Next, you’ll want to evaluate the list and order them by those people most closely related to the college and career goals of your child. When you or your child approach these individuals for a letter of recommendation, you can politely request their help, remind them of their relationship with the student, and tell them who the letter is for and why they’re being contacted. All the preemptive work will make it much easier for the reference to say, “Yes! Sounds great!”

Graduation celebration

Now for the fun – let’s party! As a notable transition in someone’s life, family and friends are expecting a graduation celebration to commemorate the hard work your daughter or son has put into school over the last 12 years of their life. There will be two parts – the graduation ceremony through the school, and the graduation party planned by you and possibly your child. Depending on the high school, ceremony spots are often limited. Having a conversation with close relatives in advance and explaining the situation will prevent any offenses. Mostly likely, they will understand that you can only bring in so many people for this moment. Besides, the real fun is happening later!

For the party, invite as many people as you want! You can even coordinate a plan with the parents of a classmate to cut down costs and have a bigger party. Whether your choice, get planning! You want people to start saving the date immediately. A sit-down meal isn’t necessary at these parties. Some nice non-alcoholic drinks and light hors d’oeuvres should do. Enjoy the time you all have together! Put the phones down and take the time to connect.


While all of this may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be! The earlier you get started, the better off you’ll be. Mapping out what you want to have happen well in advance ensures you know what you’re doing for the whole process. And when it’s all over, you’ll wish you had it back!