What’s Next? A World of Possibilities for High School Graduates

Completing high school is a major milestone for families and teenagers. There’s a world of possibilities ahead, and many different avenues to embark on. When graduation time rolls around, students and their parents may start to ponder about what’s next. While most parents hope for their children to move on to pursue higher education to increase their odds of a successful future, they may also dread the investment only to worry about their to-be college graduates potentially being unemployed after earning their degree. While this is a valid concern, the good news is that most colleges offer students useful resources to help them find, prepare for, and seamlessly transition into their career of choice.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few pointers that may take you in the right direction:

Take Advantage of Career Centers

Students can search for local career centers that may offer free advice on building strong resumes and cover letters, as well as tips for securing a dream internship. Additionally, students can take an occupation aptitude test and browse job directories to get a better feel for what they can expect in “the real world.” Often, career centers hold resume review sessions and mock interview seminars to help students sharpen their professional conduct and appearance. If you are an eager student looking for some part-time work or a volunteer opportunity, you may be able to get one step closer by visiting your local career center.

Speak with a Career Counselor

A career counselor plays a pivotal part in helping students explore their career possibilities. This is especially helpful for those who may not be totally certain about what they want to do in the future, or what they are truly interested in. By speaking with a career counselor, you can get feedback on your concerns and guidance on course adjustments, declaring a major, acing interviews, and creating stellar resumes. Having someone experienced there to make recommendations can make the world of a difference when it comes to planning out coursework and selecting a major that is aligned well with future employment goals.

Expand Your Network

Having a college degree definitely gives you a leg-up when it comes time to finding a job after graduation. However, there’s more to pursuing higher education than acing exams and writing A+ research papers. The saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is true too. You never know who will help you land your dream job or connect you with someone who will, so it’s best to take the time to make connections during your college years. Join study groups or form your own, and become a part of an organization or club. Seek volunteer opportunities on campus. A lot of career centers also have alumni networks set up so that newcomers can connect with those who have “been there, done that” and get a fresh perspective from people employed in a particular field. Networking with alumni can provide students with valuable insight on current employment trends, typical entry-level salaries, the job application process, and much more.

Pursue a 4-Year Degree

With the economy becoming more competitive, students are generally encouraged to earn a university degree to stand out in the field they wish to get into. However, it’s not for everyone. Those wanting to become a doctor, lawyer, or electrical engineer, for example, may benefit greatly from getting a bachelor’s degree that would then set them up well for graduate school. However, those still unsure of what they want to do or are aiming to do more service-type work may benefit more from technical education. A 4-year degree can be more costly and may not be realistically doable for all, so it’s important to sit down and really think about what direction you wish to take in life after school years.

Consider Community College

If going straight to a college or university is out of the question at the moment for any reason, it may be worth considering attending a community college for two years. Students can earn an associate degree at a community college, and enter the workforce from there, or transfer to a four-year university to further their studies. Some families choose this path because it can be more affordable in the long-run, and often allows students to save money on room and board because they can live at home. Another benefit to getting an education at a community college is that it can help people get a clearer sense of what they want to pursue for a career before committing to a four-year institution.

Look Into Career & Technical Education

An alternative to community college and the traditional four-year college is vocational training. If you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do, like becoming an esthetician, real estate agent, or pharmacy technician, you can look into career and technical programs. These offer hands-on experience related to a specific career. Unlike a four-year institution, students experience a more streamlined education that is focused on developing special skills and knowledge for a chosen career path. Similar to community college, technical education is often more affordable and can usually be completed in less than four years.


For both students and parents, there is a lot to think about during the transition from high school to college years. After doing some research and weighing in on personal goals, it should become more apparent which route is best for you. Whichever path you choose, remember to seek out the many resources available to you and make the most of them! Career advisors and school counselors can be really helpful in providing a wealth of valuable up-to-date information. While it may be tempting to do what everyone else is doing or go for the most prestigious degree, keep in mind that everyone’s path will be different. At the end of the day, you want to go with what will make you feel happy and fulfilled.