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  • Stephanie Haynes

Building Success: Rising Senior Summer Planning Guide

This is the first of three posts of ideas that parents can use to support their high school students' post-graduation success over the summer holiday.


Ahhh... the last year of high school. For us parents it is a year full of lasts: last first day of high school, last prom, last time they will be living at home full time....Here's the Kleenex❤.


This year can also be extremely stressful if we don't pay attention to all that needs to be done and help our teens plan accordingly. Taking the time this summer to prepare for what's ahead can help our teens, and us, enjoy this last year together.


Here's the breakdown for the Senior summer that I recommend... but, before you begin… These ideas work best when you involve your student in the decision-making process.

As a parent of a high school student your role is shifting from administrator to guide.

The older they are the more of a guide you should be, determining to set appropriate guard rails each year until they graduate. With that in mind, here's what I recommend:

  1. Help your teen enjoy their senior year. The senior year is a year of “lasts” and should be enjoyed as much as possible. Help your teen narrow down their post-high school choices and develop a timeline of the activities necessary to pursue each of their chosen pathways after high school. This way they can be assured of not missing important deadlines, plan to accomplish the necessary tasks, and enjoy their senior year.

  2. Call out skills or passions your teen has that may transfer into a particular career. Ask your teen open-ended dream-based questions like: If you could do anything, no restrictions, what would you do with the first 10 years after high school? Keep this light-hearted and fun. Allow for any answer; most teens will “try on” hundreds of ideas before they settle on one.

  3. This is a great time to revisit the financial support discussion. Parents are not required to fund their teen’s lives after they turn 18. If you wish to do so, share with your teen how much you will contribute as well as any stipulations on your gift. For example, will they need to maintain a particular GPA? What will happen if they fail a class? Also, will you fund their living and transportation costs? If so, how much? Last, is there a deadline to complete their post-high school plans? If so, when is that deadline?

  4. Plan conversations to dream about possibilities with your teen. This is a big year in the minds of most teens. The senior year is filled with endings in the face of opportunities that have not yet materialized. Spend some time with your teen encouraging to=hem to visualize the success they want in this season and the one to come.

  5. Make a timeline of steps to finalize your teen's post-graduation plans. Your teen's senior year can be fun and productive. Take the time to plan out all that needs to be done to make their post-graduation plan a reality, including due dates and any costs they need to be prepared for (like college application fees, trade school enrollment deposits, ACT/SAT/ASVAB test preparation courses, and Gap Year program deposits).

While our teens need time to recover from all they have been through, building in some future-planning activities is a great way to keep stress and anxiety lower during the school year.


For more on navigating the post-high school process, please check our my other posts OR check out my new book College is Not Mandatory; A Parent's Guide to Navigating the Options Available to Our Kids After High School OR subscribe to my exclusive High School Parent email list to get notifications of new posts, products, tools and programs designed to help you help your teen build the best possible pathway to success!

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