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Setting Your Student Up for Post-Graduation Success

By Crystal Everett

2022, we made it!

This class of graduating seniors has had quite a high school experience. Of course, freshman year is usually a year of simply adjusting to high school. As a sophomore, students are just getting the hang of things and without much warning, a global pandemic starts, shifting the world as we know it. As juniors, some of our youth had to engage in virtual or hybrid learning and possibly had to quarantine a time or two. Now, as seniors, they are in person, but let’s be real— school is just…different.

As they plan to grace the halls of their high schools for the last time as students, there’s that lingering question looking for an answer: “Where are you going after high school?” I push back on this question for a few reasons. The first reason is that it implies college is the correct answer and the only path to “success.” Second, it implies that students have to move away and we know that for a number of reasons, students want and need to stay close to their support systems. I propose that we ask the question a little bit differently: “What is your plan after graduation?”

When we reframe the question to be more open-ended, you open up the opportunity to listen to their plans, goals and aspirations.The way I see it, it helps them articulate their ideas without assumption and opens up a conversation where trusted adults can utilize their networks to offer support and resources. This question of what is their plan vs where they are going also reduces the pressure on students to have their whole lives figured out. Think back to your 18-year-old self? Enough said.

Once your youth has made their plan for what’s next, here are a few tips you can use to support them.

Finances: If your child decides that college (a community college, a university or anything else in between) is in fact their choice, understand how much it will cost. Tuition, room and board, travel, books and all the miscellaneous things are all costs to keep in mind. The college financial aid game can be difficult to navigate, so it is important to understand scholarship requirements, deadlines, eligibility and everything else in between. Organizations such as College Coaching Network and the Educational Opportunity Center offer a variety of resources for college-bound students.

Change: Lastly, as graduation nears, it is critical that you offer insight, but understand that your role is about to change. For the last 13 years or so, you’ve had access to this person’s life just because you are their parent/guardian. This is a great time to start shifting more responsibility and accountability to your budding adult. Consider involving them in conversations about finances at your comfort level. Also, what a great time to learn about sorting laundry and keeping track of deadlines, sending required emails and following up on phone calls. Make the most of this transition period to help them learn about becoming more independent.

While I personally still have some years to go before sending my own child off onto whatever path she chooses, I’ve had years of experience working with high school and college students, as well as their parents and families. Senior year is such a transition and a topic that both our students and families can be more prepared for. Change can be difficult, but with facing it head on, we can utilize the village to support our children!


Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Crystal is making her mark in the education space and has the honor of serving as an administrator in the school district she graduated from: Kansas City Public Schools. She has more than a decade of experience working with students, holding roles with organizations such as 20/20 Leadership, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri, as well as Metropolitan Community College, Drake University Law School and Northern Arizona University.

One of Crystal’s passions has always been writing and although she changed her major in college from journalism, she continues to identify herself as a storyteller. She frequently writes blog posts and started a podcast titled Conversations with Crystal.

One of her favorite endeavors is navigating the parenting journey with her husband as they raise their daughter, who inspired Crystal to begin writing a series of children’s books, starting with Mari and Mommy Move It!

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