Waters: High school grads entering a brave new world

It's a different world for students graduating from high school than it was when their parents graduated.

It’s prom time again here in the Central Okanagan, that time of girls in formal dresses, boys in tuxedos and parents tying to figure out how to pay for it all.

And prom is the herald of that other milestone in an secondary student’s life—graduation.

In a month’s time, hundreds of local students will leave high school, some destined for further education, some heading off to travel and, still others, going straight into the working world.

But unlike their parents, today’s high school grads will enter a very different world than those who came before them. The economy has dictated many changes, both good and bad, and so has technology.

While the 1980s— the decade most of today’s grad parents finished high school—was a pretty good time to enter the working world after school , that’s not the case today.

But that doesn’t mean today’s grads should leave high school with any less optimism about their futures then their parents had.

Sure, it’s tough out there, but what are the options?

I have a daughter who will graduate next month who is not the most organized kid in the world by a long shot. But she is far more prepared for her future after high school than I was at her age. And , hey, I turned out okay.

I own a house, pay my taxes, have managed to hold onto a job for enough time that qualifies me for a credit card and I even found the money to pay for half of her exorbitantly expensive prom dress (Her mom payed for the other half.)

In short, for a disorganized guy, my life has turned out pretty good.

Of course, my daughter is a big part of how good I think my life is. That really hit my Saturday night as I danced with her at her prom.

She wasn’t the helpless little being who entered my world 17 1/2 years ago. She is a beautiful young, talented and capable woman with her life ahead of her who knows some of what she needs to know and will figure the rest out as she goes along.

And that’s how it should be.

Like she did as a toddler, she will fall down and scrape her knee, get up dry her tears and keep going.

Her mistakes will be her lessons and her triumphs will be her pride. She doesn’t have to have all the answers right now. None of the kids who graduate this year do.

Finding those answers is what we call life.

So as I twirled her on the dance floor, I thought to myself, she’s going to be okay. Who knows, in 20 years, she may be thinking the same thing about her child. In the meantime, all us parents of grads need to take a deep breath and get ready to let go.

Face it, our kids are no longer kids.

Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.


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