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Preparing for Life After High School

Preparing for Life After High School


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About This Lesson

Thinking about life after graduating from high school can feel exhilarating yet worrying since there are so many career options to consider. You want to take control of your life to discover and develop your passions, which can turn a hobby into a career. High school provided specific electives that only certain students excelled, but the real world provides a wide range of opportunities for many people. No matter what career you choose, your future success will depend on how creative and dedicated you are as an employee. This is the best time to start thinking about which career path to choose.

Finding Work

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a study that found correlation between higher earnings and degrees obtained through higher education, such as a bachelor's or master's. Despite this finding, many industries will choose candidates for specific positions based on experience rather than education. This means that if you choose not to attend a four-year university, you're not necessarily at an immediate disadvantage. These jobs typically offer detailed on-the-job training. The annual salary for sales representatives is about $60,000. Some representatives have attended courses on foreign language and economics, making them appear more ambitious and therefore more attractive candidates. Real estate agents are another profession that can attract high school graduates. For agents to own a firm, all states require them to have a license, which is obtained after passing an exam. There are several professions that don't require an advanced degree to make a lucrative income.

Armed Forces

Thousands of young men and women choose to enlist after graduation. Each of the five branches - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard - teach their members to develop leadership skills and encourage them to work together in teams. Many are drawn into the military by their sense of patriotism. Members are sometimes deployed to travel overseas to countries in Europe and Asia, allowing them to explore different cultures and learn new languages. The Department of Veteran Affairs provides members specific benefits such as free healthcare, low-cost life insurance and disability coverage. A military credit union could explain these benefits in greater detail. Student debt is too common an issue for college graduates, but the military can provide compensation through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides 36 months of  coverage for tuition, books and housing. There is a sense of courage and independence that distinguishes military members from civilians.

Trade School

Vocational programs teach students how to develop practical skills, encouraging hands-on learning by allowing students to interact with objects they will likely use upon joining the workforce. Trade schools have a concise curriculum that focuses on skills students need to succeed. Unlike liberal arts education, there is no emphasis on electives or social activity. Several fields such as healthcare, computer programming, music and film production, culinary arts, cosmetology and fashion design provide career pathways through trade schools. Classic shop courses teach plumbing, carpentry, electrical and other technical skills often used for home improvement. The cost for vocational training is significantly less than a bachelor's degree and would take less out of students paychecks. Trade schools offer the kind of profession that requires a physical presence, which means the vocations you're trained for are not easy for businesses to outsource. That's great news for students who are concerned about career stability.


Community service says a lot about you as a person. You could consider volunteering at an animal shelter, making sure they are safe and well-fed. Working at a soup kitchen by keeping counters clean and helping cooks prepare meals is another good example. Volunteering for a nonprofit organization is impressive to many employers, so adding that into your resume could increase your chance at getting interviews for various opportunities. If you choose to work for a housing project and engage in other community activities, you could develop a sociological career without needing a college degree.

Your parents or peers likely told you that paying tuition for four years is the best way to ensure future financial success. However, there are many options you should consider since there are many industries that look for candidates who have certain skills that cannot be obtained at a liberal arts university.


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