How Students Can Establish Independence in High School

5 min to read
A high school student studying independently
If you’re ready to start the next phase of your education—and life—in high school, then you have plenty to anticipate. High school is a time to begin establishing your place in the world. It’s an opportunity to expand your horizons as you explore new interests and accept new responsibilities. In other words, you should be learning how to be more independent in high school and start transitioning into adulthood. 

Parents and Learning Coaches: It’s time to step aside as you continue to help your student navigate the next four years. 

5 Steps Toward Independence in High School

Kids mature differently, and while traditional schools usually group them together academically, there’s often a big difference between a ninth-grader and a high school sophomore—or a junior or senior, certainly.  

Here are five steps that students can take to establish their independence in high school: 

1. Take control of your education.

By now, you’re pretty good at handling your schoolwork each week. You can follow your schedule and get your work done on time. Now that you’re in high school, it’s time for you to evaluate just how independent you are. 

Read the list below to see how many statements are true: 

Do you have all of these independent study skills? If not, you now know which ones to work on so you can prove yourself as an independent student. 

An online student finding independence in high school.

2. Find your first job

As part of learning how to be more independent in high school, you can take on more responsibility outside of school. Consider asking your parents to help you find a part-time job

The process of searching for part-time employment opportunities and then landing and holding down a job will allow you to experience the realities of the professional world and put your knowledge, skills, and abilities into practice. Having a job means having your own income, which in addition to its obvious rewards is a good step toward developing a sense of financial responsibility. Having a job means having your own income, which, in addition to its obvious rewards, is a good step toward developing a sense of  financial responsibility. To find a part-time job, you’ll need to: 

  • Create your first resume. 
  • Learn how to prepare for interviews. 
  • Develop your professional communication skills. 
  • Design a schedule that balances work and school. 
  • Establish and reach goals, such as building your savings account. 

Keep in mind that the flexible schedule online high school allows could open up job opportunities not available to other teens. 

If you don’t pursue a part-time job, you could instead dedicate your extra time to a volunteer organization or an internship and still gain valuable experience. 

3. Get your driver’s license.

Learning how to drive is more than a rite of initiation during your high school years. It is how to gain independence from your parents. But keep in mind that it’s a privilege and a responsibility. Instead of waiting for your parents to hand over the keys, take charge and show that you’re ready to start driving. 

Here are some things you can do to get started: 

  • Learn how to apply for a temporary permit in your state. 
  • Find out when and where you can sign up for driver’s education. 
  • Study driving rules and take any questions you have to a parent or Learning Coach. 
  • Find out what you’ll need in order to prepare for the driving test. 
  • Ask a parent or Learning Coach to help you practice driving. 
  • Decide how to fit driving practice into your schedule. 

In some states, Connections Academy® offers a driver’s education course, which helps to prepare you for local requirements and driving exams. The course covers traffic rules and signs, accident avoidance, the Highway Transportation System, and more. Make sure you have a talk with your parents or Learning Coach about driving to see whether they think you’re ready to get started. 

4. Plan for the future.

As a responsible high school student, your next step in how to gain independence from your parents is to start preparing for your future beyond high school. What are you interested in doing with your life? Which careers interest you? Do you plan to continue your education in college or vocational school, or will you pursue a different path? 

To explore your interests and start developing a plan: 

Remember to work with your Learning Coach and teachers each year during high school to create a personalized learning program that reflects what you want to achieve in high school and beyond. 

Online students working on volunteer opportunities. 

5. Graduate.

Although you’ll have plenty of help over the years from teachers, Learning Coaches, parents, and school counselors, graduating with a high school diploma is ultimately your responsibility. If you continue to grow throughout high school, you’ll graduate ready for a rewarding future. Your experience in virtual school will allow you to develop skills for lifelong success. And you’ll also know how to be a leader and take charge. 

Just remember to look back on everything you’ve accomplished and consider all the things you want to do next. 

Virtual School Is a Way to Be More Independent in High School

Following these steps toward independence in high school can be beneficial for any teenage student. If you’ve made the choice to enroll in online high school, you’re probably finding out that at-home learning through a Connections Academy® online public school can be life-changing.   

And. once you’ve come to know what online high school is really like, you’ll be positioned to reap its advantages and show everyone that you’re ready for the choices, challenges, and changes you’ll face as an online high school student. 

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