How to Figure Out What You Want to do After High School
Graduation is just as terrifying as it is thrilling. Look at how far you have come. Be proud of who you are. But what next? It can feel like your parents, teachers, and high school have been holding your hand up until graduation day, and then suddenly, you are thrusted into the unknown. The sooner you start preparing for this next chapter, the better off you will be. But how do you prepare when you have no idea what it is you want? Sometimes the answer is not figuring out what you want, but rather examining what you do not want and narrowing it down. Even if you feel entirely lost, that is a first step you can definitely take.
While you are still in high school, start noting your options. The myriad of majors and college programs are all under the umbrella of the post-secondary path. Alternatively, you can take a year off to travel, find a job in a field that caters to your interests, or volunteer for something you are passionate about. Colleges and universities will all still be there a year later, and that invaluable experience could help give you a better idea of what you want once you start. It also gives you an opportunity to save money that could go towards schooling. Start considering and researching your options, and do not be afraid to venture outside the status quo.
Perhaps you know you want to continue schooling. Now is a good time to talk to a counselor, job coach, and your teachers about your next steps. Take advantage of being able to apply to multiple schools and submit applications to all the ones that intrigue you. Do not limit yourself to one or two campuses. Also remember that you can start university without having your major selected. The first year or two offer plenty of general courses, meaning you can wait to choose your major without having to backtrack. Finally, take some time to figure out your expenses. Having a budget and ensuring your tuition and living expenses are accounted for will mean one less thing to stress over. By spending less than you make, you can devote more time and energy to figuring out what you truly want.
Some people figure out their passions and dream jobs quickly. For others, it takes a bit more work. Consider your interests and write them down in broader terms, without even listing any specific jobs. Use that as a starting point in finding volunteer positions and jobs within those areas of interest. This will entail some trial and error. You will likely end up quitting positions that are nowhere near as positive as you expected. That is okay. This is the perfect time for experimenting and trying anything that piques your curiosity. Every new experience will either guide you towards what you want to do, or guide you away from things you do not want to do. None of it is wasted time.
What do you want? This is a complex, exciting, and horrifying question. Now is the time to start finding the answer. But expect it to be a long and winding journey. You have to devote a good amount of time to researching your post-secondary options, as well as opportunities outside of school. Keep a daily journal of your thoughts, lists, and interests. Seek out volunteering positions and jobs, as well as counselors and adults you can talk to. For many of us, finding out what we want takes great effort. It is an ongoing adventure that continues well into adulthood. By taking the reins now, you will feel more confident and happier in the years to come.
Klosowski, Thorin. “Advice I Wish Someone Had Given Me After Graduating High School.” Life Hacker. https://lifehacker.com/advice-i-wish-someone-had-given-me-after-graduating-hig-1573178134
LDSJobs.org. “What Now? A Survival Guide for Life after High School.” https://www.ldsjobs.org/ers/ct/articles/preparing-for-life-after-high-school?lang=eng
Peterson’s. “I Have No Idea What to Do: Advice for High School Seniors.” https://www.petersons.com/blog/i-have-no-idea-what-to-do-advice-for-high-school-seniors/