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High School Seniors | Do They Change THAT Much at College? | Chris Marcinek Photography

Bridget, a high school senior, gets her senior portraits taken in Old Ellicott City

High School Seniors have a lot to celebrate!

High School Seniors have a lot to celebrate during their final year of high school. Just last year, at the senior picnic for my local high school, I congratulated many of the kids, including some I’ve known since kindergarten! Their Moms were there too, doing what we love to do for our graduating seniors — refilling the buffet tables and keeping the sodas cold. With high school almost behind them, the Seniors looked excited, tired, happy and ready for graduation. The volunteering parents looked about the same. Senior year is a busy one for kids and parents alike.

Kids will change even in those first weeks of living away from home

The Moms at the picnic started talking about college plans for our kids. Many of them were curious about how their kids will change between the time they go off to college and when they return home for Thanksgiving. Some of us will send our oldest child to college and will feel the sting of months-long separation for the first time. Those Moms were wondering about how the family dynamics at home shift when one kid is away at school. Others who already have kids in college confirmed that it’s a big change for parents and siblings left at home. We also offered that it gets better and easier and everyone usually adapts during that first year. We also confirmed that the kids who leave for college definitely experience change. Even in those first few weeks and months of being away — they gain confidence, get more responsible and learn to be on their own.

Everything is new for them, but life at home is mostly the same

When my oldest son made his first trip home after leaving for college, he noticed how we, and home, hadn’t changed much at all. I’m sure that was in contrast to how much he felt he had changed through so many new experiences. Most parts of his life in those first months were different and new to him. He had a new roommate, and new friends and classmates from different parts of the country. He met professors, figured out schedules, and learned how to navigate a big campus. He discovered that every choice in the dining halls was his to make! For him, he experienced new and exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking things on a daily basis. Back at home, we were mostly following our usual schedules, just without him being here. 

That first reunion is very sweet

So with all that growing up and changing, what didn’t change? When Thanksgiving rolled around and my oldest was home once again, the parts of our family life that didn’t change were our joy at being together, our old and new stories being shared over dinner, and of course our affection for each other. At our house, there’s nothing like brothers wrestling with each other to make you feel like you’re home!

My Favorite People captured in my Favorite Portrait

Family of five with three sons outdoors at a park

This portrait, including our high school senior, was taken the summer before our oldest son went to college. It’s one of my favorite reminders of who we are as a family.

When my boys left for college again this Fall, I knew I’d miss them…no way around that. But what makes it better for me is remembering how much I love being around them.

I have a family portrait that I walk past every morning. We had it created the summer before our first son left for college and it shows us just being us — a kind of goofy but happy and connected family of five. It is my favorite reminder of who we are as a family. They’ve changed so much since this day, which only makes this portrait even more special. I love to remember the details and expressions that show who they really are in this moment.

Make sure you make time to capture who your family is at this moment.

You’ve worked so hard to raise your kids into the awesome humans that they are, and it’s a great time to celebrate your success as a family.

So when Covid is behind us, when life moves on, when our kids leave the nest, even if you are miles apart, you’ll still have them all together in a family portrait.

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