29 Things To Do Before Your High School Graduation – How Many Have You Done?

Three female college freshmdn take a photo together on a bright sunny day wearing their school colors on the campus of Jackson State University.

These suggestions are to help as graduation gets closer. Graduation, an end to an educational journey from Day Care to High School. Before this occasion parents need to make sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed to make a smooth closure to a long journey. These are just a few suggestions from my experiences as a parent and a teacher.

Parents make sure your child has enough credits to graduate and has a “diploma” not a “certificate of completion”. Make sure your child understands that their journey in public education maybe coming to a conclusion, learning does not end there. It is a continuous life-long process, ask anyone that is successful, successful in their career and working in a “real” career, not just a job.

1. Make sure you obtain the most recent high school “official” transcript to send to schools or potential employers. Many organizations, schools, and groups require a transcript to see if academically students are “qualified” to be eligible. The world is highly competitive and education is the key to achievement and advancement.

2. Make sure you have current and up to date medical and dental records. Even after graduating from high school students are still dependent on their parents for certain medical services. Parents must understand “their” graduate is not an adult yet, they are still maturing, learning and growing. There are some information and documentation only parents can obtain until children are 21 or even 25. As a parent of a 25 and 21-year-old,
I still in some cases support my children outside of money.

3. Make sure there are boundaries and expectations on behaviors, actions, and even responsibilities in the home for the soon to be graduates. There should be mutual understanding on everyone’s duties and responsibilities and always respect. Stop telling your child they are “grown” until they are out of your house and working independently. Even that is not a guarantee that they will not need some support until they are established and able to support themselves.

4. Talk to your child’s teacher(s) about internships, scholarships, summer employment and community projects. Do not accept the words, “I got this,” as being responsible and accountable. Parents end up paying more in the long run, keep informed and stay on your child unless they show responsibility.

5. Make hair, nail or beauty appointments months before May to avoid the rush and chaos of getting your child ready. Young men need to also reserve haircuts, shaves, and clothing appointments.

6. Remind your child of the two institutions that want their attendance Correctional (Prison) and Instructional (Higher Education) and to make wise decisions even after graduation.

The closer it get to graduation sometimes kids lose touch with reality and get “stupid” and maybe even “ignant” as some seasoned seniors would say.

7. Check your child’s academic (Cumulative) folder for items that may delay graduation or entrance into college, trade school or the military. You have a right to see their records and ask questions and if not provided seek an attorney for help. Don’t wait for the last weeks to make demands. It makes that person look like a fool because there are 180 days in the school year, why did you wait. Check for discipline referrals, changed grades, teacher notes, etc. All documentation is important.

8. Make sure all deposits and fees are paid in full before graduation. Check for lost books, needed forms, and other items that should be completed. Do not trust your child unless they show they are responsible. “I got this” are the words that put gray hairs in more parents hairs because something will be undone that costs money.

9. Know what your child’s GPA is, weighted or un-weighted.

10. Make sure your child takes or has taken the SAT and the ACT several times. Many schools only require one, but better safe than sorry.

11. Check on Bright Futures scholarship information. Many HBCU’s accept ACT scores that show your child’s academic success and the potential for future success. Use whichever gives you a better chance of getting into college and this may affect monies. Check athletic scholarships, make sure it is a full ride or partial. Does it cover books and incidentals?

12. Work on your child’s Marketable skills to help them network and grow. Get them involved in community events before they need community service hours, not rushing to beg people to help and the child does not learn anything from their experiences.

13. Set Academic, Professional, Monetary and Career goals now so your child will have a flexible plan of attack when they graduate.

14. Have your child volunteer consistently, stay involved in your community, and church. Volunteer hours can still help with networking and build marketable skills to use later.

15. Search online and inquire with local businesses about summer internships paid and unpaid. Your time is valuable so unpaid is important also.

16. Join local business organizations like Chamber of Commerce to gain marketable skills and get a jump on career goals.

17. Participate in church events and activities helps build your resume or CV curriculum vitae.

18. Take college tours, visiting the school environment to make sure you are familiar with college or even the military.

19. Social Media entries; post POSITIVE content, pictures, text and video. Your e-Reputation and e-Personalities tell a story about you. Social Media content will define you and may be your first representation of you to others.

20. Register with LinkedIn to start networking and connecting. There is a new LinkedIn for students.

21. Continue to research educational options and inquire even now about  Masters and Doctorial programs.

22. Make sure you and your child understand what type of diploma they will have. It is painful to expect a High School Diploma and receive a Certificate of Attendance, Certificate of Completion, an ESE Diploma or others.

23. On Social Media unfriend and even block those that are openly using drugs, weapons and involved in criminal actions. You may be “guilty by association” by having them part of your network.

24. Have a “real” Social Security card and Birth Certificate, and if necessary a Visa to travel abroad. Many high school students and those going to college are even getting passports.

25. Check with your local police department to make sure there are no records of mistaken criminal activity from someone impersonating you or looks like you.

26. Financial Aid and Scholarship Information can be found online here.

27. Google and Hashtag yourself to “see” what is online about yourself to be prepared for questions about activities and events that you’re involved in.

28. Contact teachers and other professionals that you may need letters of recommendations from them. This is one reason why children need to be taught to respect and honor adults because it is the right thing to do and they WILL need their help.

29. Teach your children to be humble, approachable, honest, responsible and accountable for their actions. The world is sometimes an unforgiving place and if mistakes are made sometimes an apology is accepted, but if one is not given that can be counted against them.

Parents, sometimes it is hard to accept that the apple does not fall far from the tree. So take extra care to support your child to build their confidence, to be proactive and responsible.

The world has changed, being prepared means being a well-rounded individual with people skills, confidence and that understanding that the world is based on global competition. Teach your children early about the value of having an education and being a life-long learner.