In the last couple of weeks, high schools across America have graduated the class of 2012. As the tassels were moved to the right side of the cap, thoughts about “what next” drifted through the minds of graduates and their parents alike. In this article, I’ll look at five of the most common scenarios for each year’s graduating class and give some tips that you might not have thought of for each.
An interesting article came out a couple of weeks ago on MSN Careers about what happens after high school. According to the article, fully 68% of all 2011 high school graduates were in college as of October 2011. Among black, white, and Hispanic students, each category averaged between 66% and 67%. However, 86.7% of all Asian students were enrolled in college, speaking to the cultural importance of education among the Asian community. As I build out my list below, I’ll work from what I perceive as the most common scenario to the least common.
You’re going to college in the fall. You’ve been admitted and orientation is just around the corner. Some points of consideration for students in this category revolve around how to pay for college and how to get off to a good start. I recommend enrolling for classes as soon as possible and buying books and required materials in the most economical manner. School-based scholarship deadlines have passed but students should continue to seek other resources like private scholarships to lessen the financial burden for the fall. Begin to look for part-time work; according to the article mentioned above only 38.8% of those in college were working or looking for work.
Not going to college, working instead. There is no shame at all in going straight to the workplace. According to the same article mentioned above, 68.7% of those students who did not continue on to college held some type of job. If you are working at this age, it likely is not the dream job that you someday hope to hold. However, don’t let that deter you; be taking stock of your talents, skills, abilities, personality traits, dreams, and passions and be proactively moving towards a career that matches all of those. Check out these books, both on my Resources page: 48 Days To The Work You Love (for job hunters) or No More Dreaded Mondays (for budding entrepreneurs) both by Dan Miller.
Wanting to go to college but no solid plans. Maybe you didn’t perform as well as you would have liked in high school. Perhaps you were not admitted to your school of choice and gave up at the time, but now you’ve regrouped. Or, the money just isn’t there to go to your number one school. A great solution for those in this situation is to go to a local community college in the fall. The cost is much less than a four-year university and there are programs to ensure that your credits are accepted when you transfer. Please, whatever you do, don’t take out a student loan to cover any deficits. Read this article for reasons why.
Military. An excellent option, this one overlaps the working category. And if you have college plans, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is an AWESOME plan to go to school after you separate. While you are in the military, if you can choose a specialty that lines up with your talents, skills, abilities, personality traits, dreams, and passions, rather than simply taking the recommendation based on your ASVAB scores.
Service and volunteerism. The motivations and intrinsic rewards from service can be excellent, and everyone should be involved at some level in serving others. Especially since you’re giving your time away, choose something that you are passionate about and love doing. Be careful, though, not to hide behind your volunteer roles to avoid moving into the workplace and becoming independent. Reference the same books listed above to find work that fits you.
All in all, in whatever path you choose you are entering a new phase of life. College is certainly an excellent option but is by no means a guarantee of success, so if you aren’t starting in the fall then don’t let that discourage you. In fact, if you aren’t ready for college or don’t yet know what you want to do with your life, then exploring one of the other options will be much better than spending all that money to “find yourself.” Congratulations class of 2012 – go out and change the world!
Application Question – Are you or your new graduate accepting college without a plan? Have you considered the options listed above and the tips associated with each?
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