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Decide What to Do After High School

Updated on December 16, 2012

Six Destinations: Career Options

Now What? Education Options After High School

As graduation day approaches, students face the overwhelming responsibility of deciding how to navigate their new, adult lives and many high school seniors find themselves asking “now what?” Deciding what to do after high school is like an initiation into the adult-world. While some students have already identified their career goals and know how to achieve them, others find such decisions daunting. Because young people are urged to go to college all throughout their high school years, they are led to believe that college is the only option. High school seniors who don’t do well in traditional academic settings are easily discouraged by all the hype surrounding the college degree. College is certainly a wise option but it is important that students know, it is not the only option. In reality there is a wealth of career-related opportunities for young people to explore and multiple paths to success.

The Pioneer:

Students who favor positions of leadership and work well under pressure may be interested in taking the leap into entrepreneurship. For college graduates starting businesses isn’t easy because of all the student debt they’ve accrued by the time they get their Diploma’s. Working High School graduates are less likely to start a business on a foundation of debt and have more time for the first-hand work experience entrepreneurship requires. The risks of starting a business are significantly lessened when a student has first done their homework.

  • Consider all the possible risks and set-backs and plan ways to solve them.
  • Be sure you have all the supplies and tools needed to start-up a business in the industry. If you’re considering this option it’s best to get hands-on experience through on-the-job training.
  • Work in the field that fascinates you and learn from “the big dogs” through observation and participation.
  • Seriously consider if you will you be able to survive the sometimes shaky, start-up of a business while living on your own.

The Scholar

For students who excel in academic settings and like the idea of getting the college experience by participating in clubs and on-campus functions, a four year university may be the right choice. Before choosing a university, students should do the following:

  • Decide whether to attend a public university or a private university. Research the differences between the two.
  • Make sure the school you look into to offers studies in your choice of major.
  • Figure out how you’re going to pay for college expenses and tuition. Sign up for Financial aid and scholarships.
  • Decide whether you will live on-campus or commute.
  • Plan to tour the top three universities you are seriously considering.

The Hands-On Worker

Community colleges and vocational/trade schools provide two years of training and studies for students who are interested in careers that don’t require a Bachelor’s Degree or higher for employment. Both options typically cost $2,000 dollars or less per semester, which amounts to less than half the price of attending a four year university. Students who work well in academic settings and have chosen a career that requires at least an Associate’s Degree, should opt for a community college.

  • Trade schools. typically referred to as “technical” or “vocational schools”, offer certifications in careers such as carpentry, mechanics and cosmetology. Trade school is a good option for the hands-on student who wants on-the-job training in a particular career field. However, students should beware that vocational schools are notorious for promising more than they can deliver.
  • Before deciding on a trade school, do some research and make sure that school will provide the exact certifications needed to work in a given career field.


The Humanitarian

The Peace Corps is a federal government agency devoted to serving countries overseas and promoting peace by recruiting volunteers to work and live in developing countries. The Peace Corps volunteering position is a good option for adventurous students who are interested in traveling overseas. AmeriCorps is another federal government agency devoted to volunteering, for students who like the idea of helping the community but would like to stay in the US. Both options provide students with a modest living allowance but the Peace Corps also provides housing and health benefits.

The Courageous

A career in the military is a good option for the courageous students who are interested in serving their country. Students who plan on joining the military should research each of the five military branches and decide which one is best for them.

  • The Army: The army is primarily focused on defending US soil on the ground and it is the oldest military service; established in 1775.
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  • Air force: The Air Force is focused on protecting the US by air using fighter aircraft, tanker aircraft, helicopters, bomber aircraft and transport aircraft. The Air Force controls all military satellite.
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  • Navy: The Navy protects the US by sea and maintains the freedom of the seas. The navy helps the Air Force and the marines reach areas where fixed runways aren’t possible.
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  • Marine Corps: The Marines specialize in amphibious operations and are often referred to as the “Navy’s Infantry”. They are able to attack the enemy from almost any direction.
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  • Coast Guard: The Coast Guard is concerned with homeland security. They enforce the law through sea rescue, boating safety and illegal immigration control.
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What's Next for Your Future?: Books to Help Generate Ideas About What's Next After High School:


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