I was messaging with one of my tutoring kids a few weeks ago, and she was sharing some of her concerns about going to college, especially as she found out she will be doing an early summer term, which means she heads to the dorms exactly one week after graduation. This girl is smart—like way, scary smart—and has no reason to think she won't do well in college, but the prospect of the unknown was making her anxious. Even I'm getting anxious over going back to school for a master's degree. And unlike my young friend, I've already experienced college and had four years to make the decision to go back.
For college freshman, the stakes are pretty high. You're leaving home for the first time, investing thousands of dollars in a future with no guarantees, moving on from the places and people you know and love, and subjecting yourself to the scrutiny of professors and administrators and peers and prospective employers. That's a lot of pressure for a 17 year old (or even a 30 year old).
Luckily, there are millions of people out there who have experienced those same worries about freshman year. And a few talented individuals have even written great novels about it. So from one future college student to another, here are some of my favorite books about life after high school. Not all of them are about going to college and dorm life, but all of them give insight into that frightening time we call "after graduation."
Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Naomi and Ely have been best friends for ever, but sometimes growing up means moving on from the things you love most.
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: Ed Kennedy has never had much direction until someone starts leaving him mysterious messages in his mailbox. Messages asking Ed to save the lives of complete strangers.
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley: 23-year-old Scott Pilgrim is stuck in the past and even has a high schooler girlfriend to prove it. Yet when he meets the woman of his dreams, he must face his past to become the man she deserves.
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty: Life has always been a bit messy for Jessica Darling, and college is turning out no different. Through the ups and downs of academia, Jessica learns that it tends to be our failures that teach us the most.
Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares: As the sisterhood prepares for college, they find that time and distance can't change a friendship built of love.
I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle: The lives of two recent high school graduates collide in one unlikely moment as a boy who's been so dull that he has nothing but better things to look forward to falls in love with a girl who believes that her best years are behind her.