Senior Struggle: Can high school relationships survive college and career choices?



Courtesy of Jessie Hernandez. Graduating seniors often have more decisions to make than where they want to go to college. Do they prioritize career choices? Their long-time companion? Both? Neither?

You and your partner are celebrating three years of dating, most of your high school experience.  The honeymoon phase feels like it will last forever. You have plans to go to college together after high school, and then your partner shows you the rejection letter from your dream school. What now?

After watching To All the Boys: Always & Forever on Netflix, the topic of high school relationships transitioning to college relationships consumed my thoughts.

A lot of couples, stressed by the monumental change and freedom of the next step after high school graduation, think about their next choices.  There are three options: stay together (but long distance), attend the same college, or just break up now to save the future pain.

Alexa Hyman, member of Albion College’s The Pleiad, did a small study on her classmates, and concluded that, “Only 5% of high school relationships survived the college transition.”

Although that number may seem scary, couples shouldn’t have to worry about being part of the 5%. Plenty of Linganore seniors are planning to attend college together with their heads held high. 

Choosing to attend college as a couple

Even with that small percentage of “success,” plenty of couples are willing to try.

Riley Johnston and Trevor Arnett have been dating since freshman year. They plan to attend Frostburg University.

“For us, we have always been planning on going to college together. We looked at the same schools and took tours together. I think going to college with your other half would be fun!” said Johnston. 

There are many factors when it comes to finding the right college for anyone, let alone two people. Cost, size, major choices, and location are all key considerations, searching with your partner, says SoFi

Throughout time, a lot of stigma has built up around couples going to college together. Some say it’s stupid, that people should make their individual choices.

Arnett said, I’ve heard people say it isn’t a good idea, but we’ve been together so long, it’s perfect.”  

Even though wearing rose-colored glasses can make life beautiful, it doesn’t shade you from difficult choices in the future.

Attending college is a very life changing and expensive decision, so going with your significant other must be thought out carefully. However, as long as each person in the relationship has their own set of goals, going to college together is perfectly fine. 

Roadblocks to attending college together

Where there are perks of dating in high school, there are also roadblocks. Syn Mitchell and her significant other have been dating for a solid year now. Mitchell is a junior, one year behind her partner.

Due to this difference, the couple must make long-ranging and difficult decisions.

Mitchell said, “I do have my own plans, and I have discussed them openly, but I don’t think we’ve had a talk about what will come in the future yet.”

Mitchell has plans to apply to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and her partner is choosing to go to Frederick Community College. Even though both Mitchell and her partner still need to have some conversations, both of them believe their relationship will survive.

When hearing the words “long distance” people usually immediately think: break up. There’s too many cons to being in a long distance relationship where missing out, cheating, and growing at different rates pressure the high school relationship. 

“Of course I get worried, but I think because we kinda don’t hang out so frequently and the fact that we usually do well with long distance, it’ll be fine. I don’t think I’ve ever had to worry about cheating or even emotionally cheating with them, and they have never had that with me either. So there’s really no reason to not trust them or to be fully worried,” said Mitchell. 

All couples are different in the way they react when being in a long distance. For some, it can be very simple, but for others, it can be the death of a relationship. 

This meme shows Kermit the frog hugging his phone after receiving a very loving message. A thoughtful text can simulate the fluttering of butterflies in the stomach the same way a thoughtful sentence can in person. (courtesy of Grayson Dolan)

A 2018 survey conducted by KIIROO said that 60% of long distance relationships do last, and 75% of long distance relationships are in college. 

Dating long distance is not uncommon, especially in college, and should not have the reputation that it does. Though most couples have a set plan in motion for the future, oftentimes those plans can change. Many times.

Taylor Garms and Jessie Hernandez have been together for two years. Both are planning to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the fall.

Imagining the future with your partner is normal, but it can also be dangerous. 

“Originally, we were actually just going to break up after we graduated from high school and move on to college. We automatically knew that long-distance wouldn’t work out for both of us. It was really painful because we both really cared for each other, and we were both really close friends. Therefore, we compromised by going to the same college that we both liked and would enjoy staying at for four years,” said Garms. 

Some couples can agree on almost everything, and some are the opposite. Finding a middle ground is always important, whether it be exciting or unwanted.

Garms said, “At first, I thought high school relationships were short-lasting and not serious at all, but after being in a high school relationship my opinion has completely changed. I don’t think it matters what kind of relationship you’re in, all that matters is how you feel for the other person and how far you want to take the relationship with them.”

Though the vision of the future was hazy for Garms and Hernandez, at the time they thought high school relationships were never meant to last. Now, having gone through so much together, breaking up was erased from the next step after high school. 

Courtesy of Jessie Hernandez. Messages shared between two lovers who can’t go a minute without texting each other. (Jessie)

Staying together or breaking up are both very hard decisions to make. That being said, it’s important to know what’s right for both you and your partner. 

Crystal Hernandez, who is the mother of Jessie Hernandez, has been on both ends of the spectrum. 

Hernandez said, “I went to school with my boyfriend at the time [in the 1990’s]. It was pleasant to go off to college already knowing someone and it didn’t interfere with my studies. Definitely easier than long distance.”

College can be scary enough, especially when you don’t know anyone and it’s far away. 

On the other hand, “Going long distance in a relationship is hard. It cost a lot of phone bills but my boyfriend and I at the time saw each other every weekend since he was only three hours away. Before texting and free phone service, it was very expensive to talk on the phone frequently,” said Hernandez.

On the other hand, setting up to see a boyfriend or girlfriend every weekend, also changes the relationship to the college and its social events.

Although technology has changed now where everyone can have unlimited minutes and phone service, one thing that has stayed the same is that it’s never as good as being face-to-face.

Regarding breaking up for college, Crystal Hernandez said, “It can be a good idea, but making it actually happen without breaking your heart is difficult. Going long distance can mean missing out on college experiences. Sometimes it’s better to break up when you can’t see each other, coming from someone who is a more physical person.”

I love you more than a normal high school relationship should allow.

— Taylor Garms

Though everyone’s experience is different, what’s best for the couple is always up to them. Most people can agree that life starts after high school, so choosing to spend it with your significant other or in your own environment are both equally valid choices.