What Can I Do After High School?

What can I do after high school? SO MANY THINGS!

Keep in mind that what you decide to pursue immediately after high school doesn’t have to be what you do forever! Remember, you are making a plan for your next step! The important thing is to have a plan. Plans are imperfect and you make them without all the information you’ll have later in life. Don’t sweat it! Make the best decision now for your next step and take it from there. 

An important thing to think about with these different pathways is that going to a two or four year college works well if you don’t have a clear idea of what kind of career you might be interested in in the future. Attending a two or four year college gives you the option of learning more before you commit to a specific subject to study, called a “major” in college. Did you know that only 27%  of adults with four year degrees are working in a job that is directly related to what they studied in college? College opens the door to possibilities you can’t even imagine right now and for jobs that don’t even exist yet!

All of these options are for ALL students. Yes, that means YOU. They are listed in order of the longest amount of time in training or education to the least. None of these are more valuable or better or not as good as another. They are very different, however so it’s important to determine the right path for you. Remember: if it doesn’t end up being your forever plan, that’s fine!

This article provides an overview of some of the options for what you can do after high school. Follow the links below for more details on the requirements for each option.

What Can I Do After High School? Four Year College

A four year college or university is an excellent option after high school for students who don’t know what type of career they’re interested in. It’s also the right choice for students who are interested in a specific career that requires a four year degree.

Some careers require additional education after college, called Graduate School. A four year degree is the first step to a career requiring further education (such as a lawyer, school counselor, college professor or researcher, dentist, doctor or surgeon). 

Learn more about the process and requirements to go to a four year college or university here

What Can I Do After High School? Apprenticeship (3-6 years)

An apprenticeship is very different from a two or four year college because you are working and learning at the same time. In an apprenticeship, you are typically learning a high demand and highly skilled craft such as building airplanes, welding or becoming a butcher. You earn a lower wage while you are learning under an experienced professional in that field. It’s important to know for sure you want to do that job when you start, since you’ll be doing it on your very first day.

Learn more about the process and requirements of becoming an apprentice here

What Can I Do After High School? Two Year College 

Two year colleges, also known as community colleges, have two main paths to choose between. The first is to complete two years of classes and then transfer to a four year college. The second is to complete a certificate offered by the college that does not require a four year degree, such as respiratory therapy or wine making.

The first path is a good one if you’re not sure what you want to do, the second is a good path for you if you know you want to do that job after you finish your degree. There is some overlap between the second path and technical colleges described below.

Learn more about the process and requirements to go to a two year college here

Trade School or Technical Program (6 months – 2 years)

Some trade and technincal programs are housed at two year colleges but not always. Trade school or technical programs are similar to an apprenticeship in that they teach you skills for a very specific job. The difference is that you go to school for a period of time (usually between 6 months and 2 years) and then you are hired into that job.

If you’re considering a trade or technical program, it’s important to understand the job placement levels of students in the program and a typical salary (you can ask programs about this when you research them and they should have them on their website).

Learn more about the process and requirements to go to a trade school or technical program here

By Jennie Flaming