When your children finish school it’s both a relief and a concern – a relief because no longer are you held to the strict attendance expectations for graduating or making sure your child has everything they need every day. But also, a concern for what they are going to do next, what will be the next step in their journey – travel, education, work? Certainly not sitting around mum and dads not doing much at all, that’s exactly what parents don’t want.
There is no harm in taking a short break or “gap year” between finishing higher education and proceeding on to further education at a college or university, particularly if your child isn’t sure what they want to do next. This time can be used for researching job paths, picking up further qualifications, looking for on-the-job training – it can still be a break, but that doesn’t mean time is wasted. Consider seeking advice from an education concierge, such as Allen and Jain, if your child is choosing to take a gap year to improve themselves for future education and needs some guidance.
Should your child choose the university or college route, there are a few life lessons or reminders that really the entire generation would do well remembering in the modern-day age of instant communication and social media.
Social Media Shares Only the Best of Us
While anyone who uses social media regularly does realise this point – that those on social media tend to share the best of themselves, the best side, their best vacation, their “happy moments”. There are many users that tend to forget it’s just that – a small snapshot into their life.
What social media shouldn’t be used for, is comparing yourself to others. When you are only seeing the best bits, it can be difficult to feel good about yourself and can bring about feelings of anxiety and depression.
This can play havoc with students who may be feeling the stress of a new location, increased workload and a general change in lifestyle. Instead, social media should be used to communicate and network effectively, rather than a place to regularly “catch up” with friends and family – save that for texts, phone or video calls.
School Friends Are Circumstantial
Some people keep their school friends for long into their adult life, sometimes all their lives, others tend to lose contact with young school friends fairly quickly as we grow and develop as individuals. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, friendships are a two-way street, and no one should ever feel pressured to continue a friendship that they are uncomfortable in. However, fewer people realise that our school friends are largely circumstantial, they have likely been around for most of our lives, so we are of course going to get to know each other. Particularly in a school setting where students are often encouraged to pair up or work in groups.
Universities and colleges remove this aspect of making friends, you’ll be studying with people from all walks of life that may be further along in their education, they may leave to travel, or work and new students may fill their place every year. The friends you make in higher education are the people you choose to associate with, you’ll soon learn the types of traits you enjoy or detest in an individual and what makes you likeable, or even unlikeable.
Emotions Are Allowed
Too often and sadly, a lot of the time with young men, emotions are considered a negative and showing emotions even more so. In an ideal world, we would all be happy, we’d have everything we need to live life to the fullest and there wouldn’t be a problem across the globe. This isn’t a perfect world however, and things can and do go wrong. Feeling overwhelmed or stressed is a part of life and trying to hide these feelings can be horribly detrimental to your mental health.
Emotions are allowed and while we don’t recommend punching holes in walls or doors when you’re feeling angry, shouting into a pillow, having a blow-off gaming session or going for a run are positive ways to express strong emotions. Let yourself cry, but don’t let the emotions take over. Find the positive in every-day little things and soon your outlook will start to change, just don’t expect it to happen straight away, these things take time.
Students feeling overworked or unable to cope should seek advice and guidance from their onsite student council or fellow students. Sometimes, we’ve all been guilty of wearing a smiley mask and all we want is to know others feel the way we do. We aren’t robots, our children aren’t robots, we are human, we feel, and we have every right to our emotions.
The world online and offline is a very different place to when parents and grandparents were at school and students can often feel like everything needs to have instant gratification. By looking at the world in a different light and even taking life a little less seriously, we can enjoy our time more and look forward to the future, rather than shying away from personal growth and opportunity. So, support your children, young or old and be the example they need for good mental and emotional health.