I graduated high school this past June. Soon after, I moved out on my own, to Allston, just outside of Boston. After a $500ish help-get-started from my Dad (which I intend to pay back, and now can), I was able to get my own sublet, along with a job doing some student reserach at MIT.
I can now proudly say that at the tender age of 18, I have a job that pays well enough to pay the rent, grocery bill, and all the other stuff I need to spend cash on. Especially Espresso Royale.
It's a minimal accomplishment, maybe, but it's fun as hell.
However, I doubt my $8.75/hr salary will be able to pay my full Harvard tuition. My new job, however, should help defray living expenses. Having just taken the SAT less than a year and a half ago, I am now an SAT test prep teacher for The Princeton Review. There's got to be some irony in there somewhere, I can just smell it.
But in the end, having grown up in drive-your-SUV-to-go-two-blocks Long Island, then moving to the city and commuting to school on mass transit, and finally paying my rent on my sublet with my check has been an exhilirating climb from complete dependence to almost complete independence.
My advice to people graduating high school? Get a job. Get your own place. It'll feel awesome. Then go to college.