The Next Big Step: What Comes After School?

Feb 8, 2018 by

It can often seem as though high school is pretty much the whole world when you’re a young person actually living through it. The day-to-day trial and tribulations of high school life, as well as the academic pressures put on you, often feel significant enough that you can’t really fathom the idea of there being anything else being them. Of course, the truth is that high school is a very short, if important, part of every young person’s life. In fact, once they leave high school they may well find themselves wishing for those simpler times to come back. Of all of the most common questions that a high schooler gets asked, few come with more anxiety than “what are you going to do next?” After all, when you’re a kid, and someone asks what you want to be when you grow up, it’s easy. You can say anything! But when it feels as though you’re knocking on the door of adulthood and it’s time to actually make a decision, that can be pretty terrifying. With that in mind, whether you’re soon to be faced with that decision or a young person in your life is, here are some of the options available to you, for better or worse, after you finish high school.


accomplishment, ceremony, college

The most obvious path after high school is, of course, college. But that does raise the question: is going to college right for you? Sure, you might assume that it is simply because it’s the thing that people do after high school, or because it’s what your parents want you to do. However, the choice is a lot more difficult and nuanced than you might initially think. For one thing, there’s the cost to consider. College isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it could end up being one of, if not the most expensive thing that you ever do. Because of that, a lot of people are left wondering if it’s worth it at all. Not only that but you need to think about what your reasons for going to college would actually be? Are you hoping to develop a specific set of skills? Are you hoping to pursue a particular career path? Or do you just want to get the “college experience”? None of these reasons is necessarily right or wrong, but it’s a good idea to know exactly what it is that you want to get out of your experience at college before you make any solid decisions.


Internships can be a prickly subject for a lot of reasons and whether or not they’re the right choice for you is going to depend very heavily on your own personal circumstances. Internships are essentially entry-level positions at certain companies that are designed to offer you experience in the world of work that you might not get otherwise. They can often be unpaid, though that isn’t always the case. If you are thinking of an unpaid internship, then you’re going to need to think about where your money is going to come from. If you have parents to support you financially, then that’s great, but otherwise, it might not be the right path for you. You should also be wary of internships that don’t really offer you any kind of valuable experience. If it seems as though an internship would offer more benefits to a company than it would to you, then it’s not only going to be a waste of time, but there’s a chance that it could actually be illegal. An internship can be a great way to gain valuable experience, but you need to be incredibly careful when trying to follow this option.


Black and Gray Photo of Person in Front of Computer Monitor

Of course, if you were so inclined, you could also just go straight into the world of work. This is something that many people have done for generation after generation and has always been seen as an incredibly worthwhile alternative for college for those who either can’t afford it or who thrive in more practical environments as opposed to academic ones. The question is, what kind of work would you be happy doing? If you want to work at more high-level positions, then you’ve essentially got two choices: college, or working your way up. If you’re not in a position to go to college, then you have to ask yourself if you’re going to be willing to work your way up through the ranks, potentially over some years, before finally being able to reach your final goal. Is that worth it, or would you be happy looking for something that allows you to work a job you enjoy more quickly? Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here; it’s just a matter of what your priorities are, and what you want to get out of your life.

It’s okay if you don’t really know what it is that you want to do after high school. If all of the options available to you seem like they have positives and negatives, it’s alright to need time to figure it out. However, of all of the options available to you, there is only one that’s truly a mistake, and that’s hiding your head in the sand and hoping that the problem just goes away. The truth is that, whether you feel as though you’re ready or not, you’re going to have to make a choice at some point. Now, doing that is almost always going to be easier said than done but if you try and ignore it, then you’re just going to end up narrowing your options further and further until the choice gets made for you. When that happens, you could end up in a situation that you really didn’t want in the first place, and you could end up in a position where you’re no longer in a position to choose anything at all. Most people who regret the choices they made after high school are those who failed to take the time and effort to make any kind of choice at all.

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