One thing that's fun about living in a college town is watching all the fresh faces invade my favorite coffee shop, sharing the sales racks on Devine Street with a bubbly mob of young ladies searching for a sorority rush dress and overhearing parents discuss the hotel breakfast as they hold back the tears of letting their babies grow up.
Fall is a pivotal time for these incoming freshmen. They're migrating into adulthood and paving their path to self discovery.
While the next four (or five...) years are packed with exciting new opportunities, these youth will be faced with some tough decisions: should they go with all their friends to that late-night party or stay in to study for their midterm? Social desires and academic demands will weigh heavy on both ends of the decision scale.
As someone who is not too many years past these decisions, I assure you—they're tough. Sometimes you let the fun side of the scale outweigh the academic side.
Hey, we're all human!
We've also got to remember that older teens still need a trusted adult to have those tough conversations. Three in four births to teens in South Carolina in 2011 were among older teens (age 18-19). Those are the same teens who are just starting on their path to self discovery. They deserve the same future as every other teen, but teen parents are still far less likely to graduate from college.
I share this with you as encouragement to continue to have these conversations with the older teens in your life. Whether it's your son or daughter, sister or brother, cousin, friend or neighbor—just talk! Be there for them and encourage them to make smart decisions.
And while you’re at it, send them over to CarolinaTeenHealth.org and Bedsider.org for answers to all their questions about sex, birth control and healthy relationships. They can even sign up for birth control reminder texts, and follow them on Instagram to stay in the loop!
by Jordan Slice, Evaluation Associate, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy