Knowing what you’re going to do for the rest of your life is a tall order. Here’s the good news, you don’t have to decide what you’re going to spend the rest of your life doing. You can start by choosing a career after high school, even if you aren’t one of those people who had a career in mind since they were old enough to crawl. Some kids knew what they wanted to be from a very young age, and they took steps to pursue that career early on. They picked their high school electives based on what would get them towards their goal, but what about the rest of us, who didn’t really have any solid plans for choosing a career after high school?
Working vs. Higher Education After High School
The two main paths people will take are either continuing their educational pursuits and going to a college, a university, or a career school; or finding after school jobs to help pay the bills.
Don’t forget about the disadvantages of dropping out of high school, either. Statistically speaking, people who graduate will earn higher income throughout their lives, and that additional income is more than enough money to justify the cost of higher education.
Higher education isn’t for everyone. Some people simply aren’t interested in the types of jobs you get from college or university, and there are still some decent jobs for highschool dropouts.
“We don’t recommend that students decide on a school or a major or a career unless they are reasonable sure it’s a good choice for them. Nor should you feel pushed into a certain college and career path because your guidance counselor / parent / best friend / etc. thinks you should.” ( via students.collegefactual.com)
What About Online Education for a Career After Highschool?
Online education is another option, it takes a bit of the pressure off, and the other disadvantages of after school jobs, from having to sit in a classroom all day. It gives you the opportunity to work on your assignments with a bit more freedom. For example, if you work evenings than you can do your schoolwork during the day, or after work in the early morning. If you work erratic hours, you can fit your school work schedule around your schedule. Taking online classes can help get you credits towards choosing a career after high school, and you can definitely hold down a job in the meantime, so you get a bit of the best of both worlds.
What If I Still Don’t Know What To Do About a Career?
If there isn’t a career after high school that’s calling you, that’s okay. You have many years to try different things, and to finally settle into a path that you can follow through. If you’ve graduated high school and you really don’t know what to do next, here are some possibilities.
Enter the Workforce
You can get a job and enter into the work force right away after graduating. For many, this is a necessity, they don’t have anyone else who is going to pay their bills and a lot of students have to grow up very quickly.
Other students have parents who can afford to help pay for their tuition, their room and board, their food, and even their entertainment. If you’re someone who has to work their way towards post-secondary instead of having it handed to you on a silver platter, that’s okay – you can do it. This just means you’ll have a few different hurdles, but hurdles have never stopped you before, right?
You can work for a year, or even a few years, before returning to school to further your education. Just make sure that if you decide to work after school, that you’re actually saving some money and progressing towards your goals. It’s easy to fall into the trap of living paycheque to paycheque, always planning to return to school for more training to get a better job, but then all of a sudden you wake up and a decade has gone by and you don’t have a lot to show for it. If you want to continue with schooling, and you take time off after high school, you need to make damn sure that you’re not getting too comfortably or cozy. Pay your dues, make sacrifices, save money – and then get your butt back to school because that’s what the struggle is working towards!
Take Online Courses or Enroll in Community College
Many online, and community college courses, offer a lighter workload than diving into university. They may also offer some form of loans or financial assistance, and you can also work towards scholarships and educational grants in high school if this is something you’ll have to rely on.
Some community college courses meet once a week, for a few months, and then you’re done the course, and after a few of those courses you’ll be done an entire program. This will help you put together some further education while still working, since many of the classes can take place at night, so if you work during the day, you can do both. It’s not easy, but for many people, that’s how it’s going to get done. Taking incremental steps to improve your education and to get closer to your goals, even if you’re working a tough job after high school, can make it all worthwhile. Just don’t get stuck, always keep yourself trying to move forward whether that means saving money, or taking another relevant course, or improving your skills in some other way, or starting a side-hustle to try to grow it into a bigger business, and the list goes on.
For many people, serving in the military can be a good way to get their education paid for, to learn discipline, and to set themselves up for a better life. Most roles in the military are non-combat, you can get a job working in a kitchen or writing computer software or even just doing laundry. Of course, this is a very personal decision, and it really depends on where you’re at in life and what your other options are, but it’s worth having on the list in case it’s a good fit for you.
5 Tips for Choosing a Career After High School
One of the things you need to keep in mind when thinking about choosing a career after high school is whether or not you want to keep going to school right, if you want to return to school later, or you just want to find a half decent job and just earn enough to fund your lifestyle and to have fun and take it easy.
1. Think about your hobbies and interests: Are there any jobs that are related to hobbies or interests you have, that you could pursue? For example, if you love math and computers, then learning to code might be a good option. If you love to work with your hands and build things, then maybe carpentry or another trade is a good path.
2. Do you know anyone in the industry: If you have any contacts at companies, that could help you get your foot through the door. At the very least, you can talk to people working in jobs that interest you, and might be able to offer some insights that could help you determine if that’s a career path for you or not.
3. What are you good at: Are there certain things you excel at? Are you great at staying organized and planning? Are you strong and enjoy physical work? Do you love numbers? Do you enjoy talking to people and answering phones? There are career paths that are suited to just about any talent or personality type, so put some thought into that.
4. What’s your local job market looking for: If there’s a huge demand for certain careers where you live, it may be worth leaning towards one of those. Of course, it should be something you still enjoy, at least a bit, unless the goal is to just work in an in-demand field for a few years and then to further your education and climb the ranks, or just stack up cash for a few years so you can get a bit of breathing room, maybe buy a house, then to look for a new challenge.
5. What are your financial needs: Do you need to make a certain amount of money in order to maintain the minimum lifestyle you want to live? Make sure to rule out any careers that won’t meet that minimum that you need, or consider changing your expectations. Going into a career path after high school that won’t earn you enough money to survive and live the life you want to live is not an ideal way to go.
More Help for Choosing a Career After High School
If you’re still not sure what you want to do in regards to choosing a job or choosing a career after high school ends, leave a comment and let us know what some of the pressure-points are and why you’re on the fence. Maybe somebody else will have a similar experience from their past, and will be able to help you!