It’s that time of the year.  Thousands of high school seniors in the area are graduating in the next couple of weeks, and with that, the fun begins.  Graduation ceremonies, parties, and of course, senior week.  Everyone has had their own experiences, but for me, my senior week took place in Dewey Beach, Delaware.  It’s a small town – only a mile and a half in length – yet for some, it has the capacity to drum up big trouble.  Everyone knows about the “fun” parts.  However, as a participant or as a parent, you need to be aware of the potential pitfalls  senior week carries with it.

The senior weeks of 20 years ago live on in infamy.  Everyone pretty much did what they wanted, had a lot of fun, and unless things got too out of hand, the police were kind enough to leave you alone.  And even if you did find yourself in a bit of trouble, the chances of that following you and impacting your future was minimal.  Unfortunately, although those days are over, it doesn’t  mean you can’t have fun.

For a bit of a historical perspective, as the legend of senior week continued to grow, more and more recent graduates flocked to the beach or to the shore.  Inevitably, the crowds, noise, littering, etc. all began to take a toll on the local year-round residents.  As more and more “adults” made Dewey Beach their party haven for the summers, it just got to be too much.  The reaction?  Crack down on senior weekers.

So what does that mean for you?  It means be careful.  Here are some things to think about as a graduate (and parent) before your week of fun.

For starters, to absolutely avoid trouble, don’t drink when you are underage.  Now on to the real world advice.

As you know, renting a senior week house, even with a group of friends, is costly.  Whether you saved for it yourself, or your parents were kind enough to lend you the money, you’re looking at somewhere between $800 -$1500 for the week.  Of course, that number depends on how many people you are willing to bunk up with and does not include food, water, or any other form of sustenance.  I mention this because the instances of senior weekers getting kicked out of their houses after only a few days, and losing their deposit, has grown.  So reminder #1:  Read your lease.  Many landlords have incorporated provisions that allow for eviction if the house receives a noise complaint.  The kicker?  You don’t get any of your money back.  It’s right in the contract.  That leads me to reminder #2:  Do not, under any circumstances, host parties.  It sounds lame, but in the long run, it’s not worth it.  Plenty of other stupid people will have parties and you can have just as much fun at their house.  Having fun does not require having 200 kids at your house.

Speaking of laying low, that leads me to reminder #3:  Do everything you possibly can to remain low key while you are in public.  The louder or more obnoxious you are, the more likely the police are to approach you to see how your night is going.  If you decide to ignore reminder #3 and the police do approach you, remember reminder #4:  Always remain calm and respectful when speaking with police officers.  Some police officers are out to give people a hard time no matter what.  There are a few bad eggs in all walks of life.  The majority are not like that in my experience, and if you give them a little respect, you’ll get some back.

If, however, things take a turn for the worst after following all of the reminders above (which, if you do follow the reminders, is highly unlikely), you’re not entirely out of luck.  You still have rights.  If you are arrested, again, remain calm and respectful.  You do not have to answer questions.  If the arrest if alcohol related, you do not have to take any tests.  If a police officer tells you otherwise, kindly tell him or her that you respectfully disagree and that you will not be taking any tests.  Remember, you always have the right to speak to a lawyer.  Your parents may end up getting a phone call, and you may end up losing your rental, but by following this advice, you will protect your future.

You might be asking yourself, what does he mean by my future?  Now, more than ever, arrests for silly mistakes in Dewey Beach or at a University of Delaware party are impacting college age students.  The college admissions process is more competitive than ever.  Once you have been lucky enough to be accepted to the university of your choice, it doesn’t get any easier.  Everyone is competing for the best grades to get the best internships and eventually the best jobs.  Because of today’s technology, potential employers can know everything there is to know about an applicant’s past.  If two equally qualified applicants apply for a job, and one of the applicants has a criminal trespass and underage consumption from a drunken night in Dewey Beach, who do you think is getting the job?

Moreover, it is also important to consider what you or your friends are going to be posting to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.  Remember, one fun night in Dewey Beach can come back to haunt you for years on end.  Be careful what you post or what others post about you.  Someone can see it if they really want to, despite what your “privacy settings” tell you.

With all of the above in mind, no one should be scared to have a little fun.  Relax and enjoy senior week – you’ve earned it.  Just be mindful of what to do to avoid trouble while having your fun, otherwise your week away from your parents could drag on for a lot longer than you would like.   If that happens, just give us a call.  We’ll walk you through it.

Enjoy the week!

Look out for one of our upcoming posts discussing moving to college and navigating a new chapter in your life.