Some careers you might choose after high school require a college education, and other career options don’t. The most common path after high school involves some type of education, but this doesn’t have to be the way that you find a job that you love that pays a good income. Some high school grads move right to a four-year university, while others choose trade or vocational schools, apprenticeships, the military, travel, or entrepreneurship. Deciding what you’ll do after high school can be stressful so make sure that you take the time to figure out what you really want to do so that you feel fulfilled and energized by your career.
Choosing a career can feel daunting when you think that you’re deciding the direction for the rest of your life. You might wonder if it’s even possible to make this decision when you’re still a teenager. How can you know what you’ll want or like 20 or 30 years in the future? But you don’t need to get overwhelmed with the magnitude of this decision: The good news is that nothing has to be permanent. Many people make significant career changes in their lives, so nothing you decide right out of high school has to be something you stick with forever.
Before you make decisions about education, you should decide what type of career you want to pursue. Some careers demand college degrees, and other careers will take you down a different path. Consider your interests, and make a list of your skills. Skills and interests often go together, so you may find that you have a natural interest in the areas where you excel. While you’re considering your interests, don’t forget to think about your passions, too. Passions don’t have to be out-of-reach dreams: It is possible to blend your passions with earning a paycheck, and if you can do it, you’ll find that you have a lot more enthusiasm for the job.
It’s a good idea to talk with a career counselor at your school for guidance. Take a few aptitude and personality tests to discover jobs and careers that fit your interests and personality. Once you have a few ideas for possible careers, consider your academic strengths and weaknesses to find a career that not only fits your interests but also fits with your academic strengths. Consider how much time you want to spend in school pursuing a career. Do you feel comfortable with just a couple of years, or are you open to four or even more years of college?
Don’t rush into career decisions. If you have to take a semester off between high school and college to consider your options, take it. This is time well spent because it allows you to explore your options and make an informed decision. Some recent high school grads also use the first year after high school to take general education classes that would be required for any degree. While you’re taking these classes and earning credits, you can be thinking about your career direction. Some high school grads also decide to join the military to learn additional skills that can be applied to a variety of careers. Military service also enables service members to earn GI Bill benefits, which can be used for education after service. Another option is to travel between high school and college to gain new perspectives and learn about the world.
Whatever you decide, take your time and consider every option. If you start pursuing something and later change your mind, you’ve still gained valuable experience. Just be true to yourself and keep an open mind. As long as you follow your passions, you can’t lose.
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