I Don’t Know What To Do After High School

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a male student studying

I Don’t Know What To Do After High School

As high school graduation approaches, many students find themselves overwhelmed with the question of what to do next. Making the right decision can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. So if you have told yourself many times, “I don’t know what to do after high school,” this guide will provide an overview of your options and strategies for making an informed decision that aligns with your goals and interests.

Understanding Your Options After High School

Choosing a career path can be a daunting task, but understanding your options after high school can help you make an informed decision. Here are some options to consider:

College and University

If you are interested in pursuing a career that requires a bachelor’s or advanced degree, college or university may be a good option for you. This path offers a range of disciplines and the opportunity to explore subjects that you are passionate about. Attending college or university can also provide you with valuable networking opportunities and access to resources such as career centers and alumni networks.

When considering college or university, it’s important to research different schools, degree programs, and admission requirements to ensure that you choose a program that aligns with your goals and needs. You may also want to consider factors such as location, campus culture, and extracurricular activities.

Vocational and Trade Schools

Trade or vocational schools offer practical training in a specific trade or field, such as mechanics, cosmetology, or culinary arts. These programs are typically shorter and more affordable than traditional college programs and prepare students for a career in their chosen field.

a female student sitting and appears to be thinking

If you have whispered to yourself, “I don’t know what to do after high school,” then attending a vocational or trade school can be a great option if you have a specific career goal in mind and want to gain practical skills quickly. These programs often have strong ties to industry professionals, which can help you find employment after graduation.

Gap Year Programs

A gap year between high school and college can provide an opportunity for personal growth, cultural immersion, and volunteer work. Programs such as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or Outward Bound offer a structured gap year experience that can help you gain valuable skills and experiences while taking a break from traditional academic studies.

During a gap year, you may have the opportunity to travel, learn a new language, or work on a community service project. This can help you develop a broader perspective and gain valuable life experience before starting college or entering the workforce.

Entering the Workforce

If you are ready to start working, there are options available even if you don’t have a college degree. Entry-level positions in fields such as hospitality, retail, or customer service offer opportunities for career advancement and skill development.

Starting in an entry-level position can provide you with valuable experience that can help you advance in your career. You may also have the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities and gain new skills on the job.

Military Service

Joining the military can offer opportunities for training, travel, and educational benefits. It’s important to research different branches and consider the commitment and potential risks involved before enlisting.

During your time in the military, you may have the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experiences that can translate to a civilian career. Military service can also provide you with access to educational benefits such as the GI Bill, which can help you pay for college or vocational training.

Internships and Apprenticeships

Internships and apprenticeships offer hands-on experience and the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals in a specific field. These programs can be a great way to gain practical skills and network with industry professionals. “I don’t know what to do after high school,” you say. Then here’s one.

Internships are often available to college students and recent graduates, while apprenticeships are typically available in skilled trades such as construction or plumbing. Both types of programs can provide you with valuable experience and help you make connections in your chosen field.

Assessing Your Interests and Skills

Choosing a career path can be a daunting task, but taking the time to assess your interests and skills can help you make an informed decision. Self-reflection and goal setting are important steps in this process.

Self-Reflection and Goal Setting

Reflecting on your personal interests, values, and goals can help you determine what kind of career path is right for you. Consider what you enjoy doing in your free time, what challenges you, and what kind of work environment you thrive in. It’s also important to set specific goals for your future, both short-term and long-term. This will help you stay motivated and focused as you pursue your chosen path.

For example, if you enjoy working with your hands and have a passion for building things, you may want to consider a career in construction or carpentry. Setting a goal to complete an apprenticeship or obtain a certification in your field can help you achieve your long-term career aspirations.

Career Assessments and Aptitude Tests

In addition to self-reflection and goal setting, there are many online resources available that can help you determine your strengths and interests. Career assessments or aptitude tests can help you identify potential career paths and areas of strength to consider.

a girl with a planner, studying in the library smiles at the camera

For instance, if you take an aptitude test and find that you have a natural talent for problem-solving and critical thinking, you may want to consider a career in engineering or computer science. These fields require individuals who are analytical and detail-oriented, and an aptitude test can help you determine if you have the necessary skills to succeed in these areas.

Seeking Guidance from Mentors and Counselors

You may have told yourself many times, “I don’t know what to do after high school,” and while online resources can be helpful, seeking advice from experienced professionals, mentors, or guidance counselors can also provide valuable insights. They can offer insights into their own careers and provide information about different paths you may not have considered.

For example, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, speaking with a nurse or physician can give you a better understanding of what the job entails and what skills are required. They may also be able to provide guidance on the educational requirements and job outlook for the field.

Overall, taking the time to assess your interests and skills, and seeking guidance from professionals, can help you make an informed decision about your career path. By setting specific goals and staying focused, you can achieve your long-term aspirations and find fulfillment in your chosen field.

Financial Considerations for After-High School Plans

Tuition and Financial Aid

College and universities can be expensive, so it’s important to research the costs of tuition, fees, and living expenses. Additionally, you can research options for scholarships, grants, and financial aid to help cover the cost of tuition.

When it comes to tuition, it’s important to note that the cost can vary greatly depending on the institution you choose to attend. Public universities tend to be less expensive than private universities, but the cost can still be significant. In addition to tuition, you’ll need to consider the cost of books, housing, and other living expenses.

Financial aid can be a great way to help cover the cost of tuition. There are many different types of financial aid available, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Scholarships and grants are typically awarded based on merit or financial need and do not need to be repaid. Loans, on the other hand, do need to be repaid with interest.

Scholarships and Grants

There are many scholarships and grants available to students, often based on merit or financial need. Do your research to find opportunities that align with your goals and interests. Many organizations, both public and private, offer scholarships and grants to help students pay for college. This will make it easier for you if you have told yourself, “​​I don’t know what to do after high school,” because of financial limitations.

It’s important to note that scholarships and grants can be highly competitive, so it’s important to start your search early and apply to as many as possible. Some scholarships and grants may require essays or other application materials, so be sure to read the requirements carefully and give yourself plenty of time to complete the application.

Balancing Work and Education

If you are working to support your education, it’s important to create a plan to balance your workload, studies, and personal life. This may mean working part-time, taking classes online, or seeking flexible job opportunities.

Many universities offer resources to help students balance work and education. These resources may include career services, job fairs, and internships. Additionally, you may be able to find work-study opportunities on campus, which can help you earn money while also gaining valuable work experience.

It’s important to remember that balancing work and education can be challenging, so it’s important to prioritize your time and set realistic goals. Try to create a schedule that allows you to focus on your studies while also maintaining your other commitments.

a student writing on the sheet of paper

“I don’t know what to do after high school.” We hope we have helped you address that and that you have a clearer idea of what to do after you finish high school.

The Bottom Line

Choosing what to do after high school can be a challenging decision, but it is also an exciting opportunity to explore your passions and interests. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide on the best path for you.

One important step in making this decision is to set clear goals for yourself. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve in your career and what kind of lifestyle you want to lead. This will help you narrow down your options and focus on the paths that align with your values and aspirations.

Another helpful strategy is to seek advice from professionals in the fields you are considering. Talk to people who have pursued similar paths and ask them about their experiences, challenges, and successes. You can also reach out to career counselors or mentors who can provide guidance and support.

It is also important to consider the financial implications of different paths. Some careers may require extensive education and training, while others may offer more immediate earning potential. Take the time to research the costs and benefits of each option so that you can make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to take time to explore your options and plan for your future. This can involve researching different careers, volunteering or interning in fields that interest you, or taking classes to develop new skills. By investing in yourself and your future, you will be well on your way to making the right decision and achieving your goals.

Tired indian female student studying at working table.

So, as you embark on this exciting journey, remember to stay curious, stay open-minded, and stay true to yourself. With determination and hard work, you can create a fulfilling and rewarding career that brings you joy and satisfaction. Good luck!

How AdmissionSight Can Help You With College Admissions

Hello, we’re AdmissionSight, a dedicated college admissions consulting service. We’re committed to helping high school students navigate the complex journey toward admission to top-tier universities. Our team of experienced consultants guides you through every step, from strategic planning and course selection to crafting compelling personal statements and interview preparation.

We understand that each student is unique, and we help you communicate your individual story in a way that will resonate with admissions committees. Our data-driven approach, personalized strategies, and commitment to reducing stress throughout the process have led to a high success rate, with many of our students being admitted to the Ivy League and other top institutions.

We’re not just about getting you into college; we aim to set you up for success beyond, by helping you develop a strong academic and extracurricular profile. Contact us and let’s turn your college dreams into reality!




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