“Perks Syndrome”, as coined by Elizabeth Torres in her article last week, is the boatload of “feels” that come along with graduation and summer celebrations, as your senior friends leave you.

I sat there at graduation, finally being on the flipside of it all, and realized why the juniors would get so emotional, and why the seniors were so done: the difference is being broken up with, and breaking up with someone. But it’s a very cordial, celebratory, (and also school-enforced) break up: the underclassmen moving up, and the seniors moving out! The feels are of the whole spectrum: being proud of your graduating friends, excited for them to start something new in the fall, ecstatic to be a senior yourself, sad that they’re going to be less present in your life…but most of all, you’ve got a full summer to enjoy with them!

I’m a fan of Google+ Hangouts. You can do group chats up to ten people, play around with camera effects…and have fun putting each other on mute. Image from AMereServant.

A Reader’s Digest of Elizabeth’s Perfectly On-Point Advice

1. Change your mindset. Own your senior year.

Take full advantage of senior privileges. You’re back at the top of the food chain, and you’ve got one year here until you’re back on bottom as a college freshman. I know (I know) you love your senior friends, and they were probably friends from sports or clubs you’re going to continue doing into your senior year. Some people might still recognize you as their “junior friend”, and talk about them frequently in those groups. Embrace it, to a point, but own your senior year. For example, your Science Olympiad team was two points from making states last year? Get advice and support from your senior friends, but run it, and push your team with who you have, not who you had. It’s your chance to leave your legacy, and by gosh, do it. Living in a shadow (whether you put yourself there, or others chase you with it) is never a way to go about.

Second, if you keep in touch with you college friends and are constantly hearing about all the “bigger and badder things” they’re doing in college, don’t let that make you start undermining everything you’re doing in high school. Okay, it’s universally agreed that high school isn’t the best four years of your life, but so what? For a while I started to really, really hate high school. The daily schedules, the drama, the everything-that-wasn’t-college – but for a small period of time, dismiss it. Take what you hear about college, and college life, and get inspired by it; don’t dwell or dream on it.

2. Make plans.

As Elizabeth advised, go see that movie, or that concert, or keep up that tradition! With the seniors who graduated when I was a junior, we frequently went running or played tennis that summer; as the senior leaving this summer, it’s coffee shops and lunch dates. Whether you go visit your older friends at college, plan for Skype or Google+ Hangouts, or make plans for the next time they come home on break, keep up that connection.

3. Contact is important, but know that your friends might change.

Holy moly is this true. One of the most universal changes is time: the college school schedule is so different from the high school one (read: dead weeks to midterms to finals weeks and everything in between), as is the daily life of a college student. Do keep in contact; your senior (now college) friends still love you, but time and space change things. And change isn’t automatically bad.

Thought Catalog explains it amazingly in “What It Means to Be a Best Friend“: “Keeping in touch and maintaining a level of intimacy that was easy to achieve when both of you were in the same school and had no real responsibilities becomes a serious investment when life begins to insert itself between the two of you and attempt to pry you apart.”

4. Don’t dwell negatively on the upcoming year.

I said “I miss the seniors” countless times my first week of senior year. If I were my friends, I’d hit myself upside the head for it too.

Conclusions from My Case Study on How to Deal with Perks Syndrome:

Stay Positive (…cue the cheesiness)

I freaked out with insecurity a few months into my senior year with college friends being gone. I felt like it’d be useless to try to keep in contact, because “who even stays friends with people from high school in the long run?” Don’t. Give. In. Several months later, some of my college friends are still the closest people in my life. We may not talk nearly as often, or see each other as often (How does once a semester sound? Or for another friend, not at all in a year?), but they’ve stayed some of the most trustworthy and awesome people I know.

Get Closure

Whether it’s a falling out you’d like to patch up or just unresolved feelings (of any sort), just, for the love of all that is good in this world, talk it out and get closure. It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic or long; especially in the summer, now’s a good time to feel like you’ve both taken a couple steps back from high school and life and talk clearly about it.

Make Friends with Younger People

This one’s tricky, because you were just on the underclassman/junior side, and they’re blissful of the feels to come to them in a year. Though if you are anything like I was, probably half the reason I got so close to the seniors in my junior year is because I was so done with my own class. Granted, I had a great set of friends in that year, but I was getting tired of the rest of the year (well, I thought I was…see below). I not-so-secretly call my underclassmen and junior (now senior) friends my “minions” and “munchkins”, endearingly of course.

Stay–or Make–Friends in Your Graduating Class
From Elizabeth’s article: “DON’T NEGLECT YOUR CLASSMATES. Sometimes we get so entangled in our moping that we forget that other people exist in our lives. Your lab partner seems kind of nice? Why not try and spark a conversation; it’s never to late to make new friends, even in senior year. How long you know someone doesn’t matter; what matters is the connection you guys have with each other.” Annnd bingo.

Perks of Perks

Your senior-turned-college friends are now out of “the world of S-A-T, A-C-T, A-P, I-B, and P-R-O-M”, and being removed – time and space-wise – gives these guys a point of view that’s close enough to your high school, hometown, and senior year problems, yet far enough to not be caught up in the intricacies.

  • College Apps: Aside from The Prospect, another great and fresh voice on college apps and life are college students! For me, having couple of college friends were great for soundboarding ideas about college applications. They’ve just finished their own cycle of applications, can remind you of factors to actually look at (socially and academically), and also know you. By knowing you and knowing the real parts of college life, they can also help guide you on what may make a good college fit in your search or decision.
    They still love you, even if college life is ridiculously busy.

    They still love you, even if college life is ridiculously busy.

  • Venting & Bragging: Need to vent about how you’re (once again) about to murder the engineers on your Science Olympiad team? Or, want brag about how great your service club is doing with their new community project? Out of the world of high school, it’s more entertaining than ever before to your college friends to hear about your life and your world. Or to not hear about it:
    “How’s high school?”
    “Shut. Up.”

So fill up this summer with memories, and jump into next school year with all you’ve got! It’s your year, and this doesn’t come twice. Allow your friendships to spread apart, give it that time and space, and through that, let it grow so much more. And let me just say, staying friends with those college kids can make for some really interesting stories down the road.

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the author

Jo is in her first year of studying biology at Fordham University, with interests in the social sciences, business management, and world domination. Recently returned to New York from 12 years in California, you'll most likely find her adventuring around the city. Residences include the science and humanities departments, running trails, and every coffee shop from here to Narnia. Nobody’s quite sure if she has a heart, but she’s got some sort of pump that moves around the black sludge that is espresso through her veins.

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