The unexpected road to graduation

Seniors’ mixed feelings regarding high school, experiences that shaped them

As the high school journey comes to an end for seniors, many feelings race through their minds. The main emotion senior Shivani Varma said many are experiencing, including herself, is excitement for the future yet to come. 

“I’m really excited to be leaving because that opens a whole other chapter, and college is another new opportunity,” Varma said. “Life after high school is always interesting because you don’t know what’s gonna happen so it’s great.” 

As seniors navigate their way through their classes they continue the process of deciding which college they want to go to. They decide whether to take the community college route or the traditional 4 year college route.

A happy feeling: Shivani Varma is ready and excited to start the next chapter of her life.
(Photo Courtesy of Shivani Varma)

“At the end of the day, I just want to go to a college that is good for my major and has good opportunities,” Varma said. “If I don’t get what I want when it comes to colleges, then there is the great community college system here. You can do community college for two years, transfer, figure out what else you want to do in life and it gives you more time, more chances to explore.”

Varma said that for her, her parents played a major role in her college process. Following their footsteps and seeing what they have done, helped guide her in the direction she wants to go in, in college.

“The whole process of traveling and moving to the Bay Area as well as seeing my parents come here and build their life has influenced me on why I want to go to college and where I want to go to college,” Varma said.

Activities both on and off campus have been the breakthrough to help senior Artharv Koratkar and many others figure out the next steps in their futures, Koratkar said in a Zoom interview.

“I’ve done Robotics, guitar, songwriting and a lot of things that have helped shape me,” Koratkar said. “It’s the reason why I want to do engineering in college, because a lot of the activities that I currently do involve creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. It’s all  guided me towards the engineering side of things.”

To the rescue: Marissa Young spending quality time with her foster dog.
(Photo Courtesy of Marissa Young)

With the amount of clubs and organizations available to join at HHS, Varma said it played a large role in allowing her to explore further interests and provided a large range of opportunities. For Varma, she said being a part of Speech and Debate for her whole duration of high school has taught her important life lessons she hopes to carry on with her after graduation. 

“I think that really did influence me in a way because it taught me how to think in a good way and come up with arguments and responses to arguments,” Varma said. “It taught me that people aren’t going to be waiting for you to share your ideas and you have to just be bold and confident in order to put what you have out, for the world to see.”

However, this year’s seniors have had another influence on their last year of high school like never before — coming back to in-person after COVID-19. With last year being almost fully online, Koratkar said he feels as if his high school experience was significantly cut short which brings disappointment. Sadness has become another one of the many emotions felt by other rising college students, Koratkar said.

Senior guitar rehearsal: Senior Atharv Koratkar honing his guitar skills
(Photo Courtesy of Atharv Koratkar)

“I’m kind of sad if I’m being honest because right now with the whole COVID pandemic, it’s been kind of difficult because I’ve only really experienced around a year and a half of high school,” Koratkar said. “I’m definitely gonna miss it ​​and just seeing everyone part ways is going to be sad.”

For many students, the pandemic helped them realize their true goals for life after high school. It has helped in the process of searching for a path for students to stick to, Young said.

“The pandemic allowed me to discover more things about myself that I can apply to college applications,” Young said. “It has made me realize how much privilege I have, which I can use in order to make a difference in the world.”