How Ready are you for Life After High School?

6 min to read
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Planning for the future might seem daunting when you are still in high school, but it is an important step for students and their parents to take as graduation day gets closer. When graduating from high school, you should be prepared for the jobs of the future and have the skills you need to thrive as an adult.

But how do you know if you’re really prepared for what comes after high school? There's no way of exacly knowing what to do after graduating, but you can help make the transition more manageable if you break up your objectives into a few categories: academic, professional, financial, and personal.

Planning Your Academic Future

There are so many options to consider for your plans for after high school, that it can feel a little overwhelming. Should you attend a four-year college or a two-year college? Is trade school a better option?  

Activity: Find Your Skills and Goals

Start first by thinking about your skills, and reflecting on your interests, strengths, and long-term goals and explore how different educational programs might align with them. Making a list to compare and contrast these options will help you get a better idea of the path you want to follow.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want to go to a four-year college, a community college, or a trade school?
  • What skills do you want to learn or improve upon?
  • What are the top three schools you’re considering?
  • What are your top three choices for a major?
  • How will the major you choose align with your career plans?
  • Do you plan on taking a gap year?

It can also help to reach out to guidance counselors, teachers, and mentors for support in crafting a well-rounded plan. Don’t forget to stay flexible and open to new opportunities, as your academic path and priorities may evolve over time. 

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Considering Your Professional Future

Much like with your educational planning, it’s important when considering future professions, to assess where your skills and interests lie. While not every skill will lead to a profession you might want to pursue, they can be applicable to what you might be interested in. Not to mention, if you’re hoping to get into a specific line of work you may want to start lining up internships, training programs, or volunteer work related to that career path to get a feel for the industry.

Additionally, seeking out advice from those already in professions you’re interested in or who might be able to get your foot in the door is a great step. 

Activity: Think About Your Purpose

To carefully consider the path you want to take, it could be helpful to ask yourself some of these questions: 

  • What field or industries hold interest for you?
  • Is there a specific profession you want to pursue?
  • Is it more important to make a lot of money, do what you enjoy, or to help other people?
  • Is there a specific company you’d like to work for?
  • Do you want to relocate for your job?
  • Will you need a portfolio of sample work for this occupation?
  • If you could design the ideal job for you, what would it look like? 

Think of the above as a checklist for after high school, and it’s important to continuously update and refine your plan as you gather more information and your interests evolve. By taking a thoughtful and proactive approach to planning your professional future, you can set yourself on a path towards a fulfilling and successful career

Get a Head Start on Your Financial Future

One of the most important things about learning what to do after high school and entering into adulthood, is financial literacy. Some of the most important steps to take first are opening up your own bank account, learning how to budget, and applying for a low-interest credit card to start building up your credit. 

Activity: Practice Using a Budget

To test out your financial knowledge and to get an idea of your spending habits, try to monitor your spending for three months.

During the first month, just record what you normally spend and save so you can get an idea of what your typical budget looks like. Then ask yourself these questions at the end of each month:

  • Did you overspend?
  • How much did you save?
  • Did you accrue debt?
  • How much was left in your account at the end of the month?

During the second month, you’ll want to create a budget and commit yourself to paying off any debts you might have accrued in month one and ask yourself those same questions.

When you reach month three, you’ll want to check if there’s been any changes month to month. This activity will give you a chance to truly experience how to handle money and budget effectively for your expenses. This activity will teach you to start living within your means and spending mindfully. 

Image of a young female Connections Academy student in a yellow sweater looking at her laptop making a list about her future plans.

Work on Personal Development

One of the most critical things you can work on as you’re planning for graduation is your emotional health. What kind of person do you want to be, how do you want to grow, and what do you want your relationships to look like with others? Life after high school comes with a lot of change and being able to handle that, maturely, and become more self-sufficient will help you greatly as you get older. 

Activity: Focus on Your Emotional Health

Some things to focus on when it comes to considering your emotional health and maturity are: 

  • What makes you happy?
  • What inspires you?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • Are you able to handle conflict well?
  • What do you do for self-care?
  • How do you emotionally regulate? 

These may seem like silly questions, or you might not be certain how to answer them at the moment, but they are key to becoming the best version of yourself you can be. You’ll meet all kinds of people and face so many new things once you graduate from high school that prioritizing your emotional wellness is vital to staying happy and healthy. 

As you take on these new challenges, having a plan in place and starting to create avenues for emotional growth will help to keep you stable. Not to mention, you’ll be more confident in your plans for the future if you’ve taken time to review and reflect on all of your options before making decisions. Planning ahead may be scary, but it will make the path forward less uncertain and will allow for this time of transition to be exciting rather than daunting.

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