Publishing positive education information for parents and teachers since 2000

Growing Gracious Adults - How to Manage the Transition from Senior High School Student   to Adult Life

For many school students the end of school is a time of huge relief and celebration and then....

It is the time of the year when we look at the TV and see our senior students celebrating their exit through the school gates.  What then follows, in Queensland where I live, are pictures of drunkenness and hijinks at Schoolies.  But what comes afterwards…..  that is what we should be thinking about.


For many school students the end of school is a time of huge relief and celebration, as the confines of the school grounds are lifted and we wish them well as they enter the adult world of work and study or both.


What has bothered me for quite some time though, is that we don’t prepare our young people particularly well for either study or work.


If the school leaver believes they are Uni bound they will probably have a holiday while they wait to find out if they have got into their desired course.  If all things go their way that will happen and they will leap into University life with all the gusto of a starving man at a banquet as they soak up this lifestyle that they have dreamed about.


Six weeks down the track though it is more likely they are doing one of two things:

  • either partying their way through University life and in quiet times starting to think about the impending due dates of assessment, or,
  • being the “Uni Swat” and hitting the books hoping to be accepted by any group but not wanting to be seen to be the nerd!


Harsh realities of Uni have also hit when they realise that the tertiary system is not quite as forgiving as the school system and there are NO EXCUSES accepted for late assignments, sleeping in or not attending compulsory lectures. There will be no one prodding them, ringing home to check why they weren’t at tutorials or checking drafts for the twentieth time and getting back to them within an hour of submission like their school teachers.


Really who can blame them?  Our school system has not prepared them at all for what the real world is like.  We push, coax and prod our teenagers to within an inch of their life to get them over the line, yet, not six months later the lectures and tutors will be shrugging their shoulders and asking “who are you again?” or more commonly – will let you know in no uncertain terms that “they don’t care”.


Maybe we are just as much to blame for the 12.8% of first year Uni students who quit in their first year?  Did we not see the signs?

Stark Realities of Working

If on the other hand, your school leaver is heading into the workforce, there are also some stark realisations that often hit early on in the young person’s working life.


  1. No-one will give you a slip to take to your boss if you slept in, dawdled to work, or just couldn’t be bothered coming in at start time.  If you do this more than once consider yourself cautioned.
  2. There is an implied understanding that you do not swear or use foul language in the workplace.  Although teachers often tell their students this, it often will take an employer to reprimand them for it to hit home that you MUST speak politely to each and every person not just those who you like or who are nice to you.
  3. That your work colleagues do not have to be your besties!  With amazing regularity young women in particular, slide into a pattern of sharing their life story with the employee working next to them – just like when they were at school – only to find that the said “bestie” is actually relaying this to all and sundry in the office when she is not around!

"The debate he (author Hans Andrews) puts forward is perennially valid and highly relevant in the current Australian education landscape. A school’s employees, in this case its teachers, need to feel appreciated and important to the school” -


Stephen Thomson, MACE-  review  in Professional Educator,  Australian College of Educators


So how do we stem this problem and help our school leavers ease the transition into adult hood?

Firstly, keep your expectations high.  Don’t accept mediocrity at school or home it isn’t helping them when they start jobs.


Secondly, enforce the need for them to be respectful and compassionate.  Just because they are a senior student, or even out of school does not entitle them to be rude, self- serving and disrespectful.  It is not tolerated in the real world.  A great way to do this is get them to spend time with their elderly relatives.  Not only is it possible they will learn something, but they will also learn to listen and be of service to others.


Thirdly, make them contribute to the running of your home. This can be financially if they are working full time, but, can also be taking over family errands, doing their share of the cleaning etc.  If they have lots of spare time, urge them to volunteer their time with others less fortunate, or, and this would appeal to some, offer their skills at a local club etc.


Last but not least, remember that the young person in your home at the moment is still very much in need of your support!  Although the schooling chapter of their lives is over they are still very much in need of your wisdom, skills and love if they are to function in society.


Unfortunately (or fortunately for some) they will still need you to guide and help them in these turbulent years and with these points at hand the transition to adult hood will be a lot easier.


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About the Author

Fiona Lunn is passionate about making the schooling journey as stress-less as possible for parents and students.  After spending many years in the classroom and undertaking her Master of Education she realised that parents needed assistance.

 As an Educational Advisor and Coach she assists parents to find appropriate schooling for their children and then provides coaching and guidance in subject selection, career guidance and navigating the hurdles of adolescence through short courses and teen coaching. Fiona’s website is

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Publishing positive education information for parents and teachers since 2000

Publishing positive education information for parents and teachers since 2000