Your next choices can be overwhelming as high school comes to a close. The traditional options are available to you but don’t feel like there’s only one way to move forward. The world is a big place, and many other opportunities for you can lead to a happy and fulfilling life. Of course, in addition to the many ideas floating around your own head, you also have to deal with the expectations and social pressures of parents, family members, and peers. But take heart, there are more options than you think!
Related: How to Start a Business in High School
What to Do After High School
You may be pleasantly surprised at the plethora of opportunities available to you as a newly graduated high school student. Don’t believe the lie that ‘everyone else knows exactly what they want to do with their lives.’ Most teens are unsure of their futures, but fortunately, there are many paths to your destination. Here are a few things you can do after high school.
1 Go to College
Going directly to college is the more traditional option – the road most traveled. Throughout your high school experience, you should have achieved a good grade point average and gathered other experiences that make you attractive to a good college. If you know what career you want and need a degree in, then college is an excellent next step. It would be best if you had prepared for this throughout your time in high school and made applications to several possible choices. Do this with your parents, teachers, and guidance counselors.
2 Get a Job
Not everyone has to go to college. Leaving high school and entering the job market is a valid path. You may do this by choice or because you need to contribute to family finances, but whatever your reason – it’s a great move. Some careers don’t require a degree, just on-the-job training. If you’re still unsure what to do with your life, a job as a barista, a waitress, or retail personnel can earn you a pay cheque while you’re figuring things out.
3 Continue Your Education Online Or at a Community College
If a large college isn’t for you (whatever the reason), maybe pursuing the next stage of your education online or at a community college is a better fit. You can earn a degree or certification in a variety of subjects. At the University of the People, these are tuition-free! You can keep a job while continuing your education at your own pace.
Related: High School Entrepreneurship: 10 Tips for Young Innovators
4 Study Abroad
After high school is a wonderful time to travel and experience other cultures while continuing your education. Study abroad programs make it possible for you to study in another country. You could live with a family, learn a new language, make new friends, and expand your career opportunities. You’ll make memories and discover things you’ll never forget.
5 Join the Military
After you turn 18 years old, you’re eligible to be a part of the U.S. military. You can become a skilled and disciplined person while training to protect your country. In fact, the training you receive can lead to a specialized career. But understand the commitment you’re making because many services require minimums of five to eight years. Signing up can also provide the tuition assistance you need for college, or you can try out for various military scholarships.
6 Do an Internship or Apprenticeship
There are thousands of internships and apprenticeships available. Once you identify your skill set or what you would like to learn to do, begin your research. You’ll learn with real-world experience and hands-on training, and you can earn a pay cheque. If you can only find unpaid positions, you’ll still gain valuable experience, learn new skills, and make connections.
7 Join a Service Organization
If you’re unsure what you want to do with your life, a year off while serving others with a service organization might give you some clarity. There are organizations situated locally (in the U.S.) or globally. Either way, you can learn new skills, make friends and connections, and gain valuable life experiences while figuring out your life. You won’t make much money, but the person you grow into will thank you.
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8 Start a Business
Starting your own business is an excellent idea if you have a business idea (or even if you don’t). Not sure what to do? No worries, the Beta Bowl Virtual Entrepreneurship program will help with all of it. This online program is outcome-focused, and you’ll learn how to create a marketing plan, make a site or MVP, build a financial model, have a startup mentor, and at the end, you’ll have an opportunity to pitch your idea before experienced entrepreneurs and investors. This program aims to inspire teens to create and run their own successful businesses.
Related: Do’s and Don’ts for Entrepreneurs Under 25
9 Attend a Trade School
Not every profession requires a college degree. Suppose you’re interested in becoming a plumber, electrician, florist, paralegal, hairstylist, automotive technician, pharmacy technician, or aircraft mechanic (just to name a few). In that case, you can attend a trade school to obtain the necessary training and qualifications.
10 Take a Gap Year and Travel
You might want to have some time off to discover who you are and what kind of life you’d like to live, or you may just want a break from the demands of education. If this is you, a gap year is a great idea. You may travel and experience new environments or cultures in your gap year. Many of these experiences can become more challenging to have once you’re committed to a job and have a family. So, taking a year off can be life-changing.
If you’ve graduated high school – good job! And while you do have to decide on your next step, just remember that you have options. There is no one way to a happy and purposeful life – you can get there by taking many paths. Have fun discovering your path.
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