Exploring Your Post High-school Options: A Step-by-Step Guide

A recent study found that almost a fifth of Americans had no plans post high-school. If you’re a high school graduate struggling to decide what’s next, you’re not alone.

Whether it’s jumping straight into a career path or attending college or a trade school, it’s important to explore all options. Some graduates even take an entire gap year before making their big decision.

The following guide will cover all the options you have after high school so that you can make the best choice possible. 

Get a Degree

You might choose to jump straight into a four-year university to earn a degree. There, you’ll study your field of choice and likely take a lot of other courses about other subjects. It’s a great option for some, and what most people think of when they hear “college”.

Four-year universities also offer the chance for extracurricular activities, meeting new friends, and acquiring work experience. However, getting a bachelor’s degree is expensive and requires a lot of budget planning well in advance.

A community college offers an excellent way to get an associate’s degree for much less money. If an associate’s degree is all you need for the job you want, it’s a great route to take. Most of these programs only take 2 years to complete.

After getting an associate’s degree, you can start working immediately or transfer to a four-year college. Then, you can use your transferred credits to work towards a bachelor’s degree without paying for all 4 years.

You can also get your degree online if you don’t have enough time to attend college. Just make sure to choose an online program that’s fully accredited and explains the total cost clearly so that you can plan ahead. 

If you plan to work while taking an online course, remember to balance your schedule accordingly. Depending on your job, it might become very difficult to manage both at the same time.

Go to a Trade School

Trade schools can help you get into fields such as computer technology, automotive mechanics, and medical assisting. The training programs help students develop the exact skills they need for the career they want.

Expect a lot of hands-on learning through these programs and opportunities for work experience. Keep in mind that some community colleges offer vocational training programs, too.

If you want to fast-track your career and start making money as soon as possible, it’s an option worth considering. If you wish to learn a trade remotely, learn more about online trade schools and their programs.

Certificate Programs

Some colleges, universities, and well-known companies like Google offer certificate programs. The programs help train students in a technical field or teach an exact skill.

It usually only takes a short amount of time to complete these programs, so it doesn’t involve much commitment. You can obtain your certificate by completing programs in a classroom, through an internship, or online.

A Gap Year

It’s okay to take a year off if you don’t have a solid idea of what career you want. Some high school graduates take a year to travel or do an unpaid internship to gain experience.

Some college programs even offer a gap year that comes with funding and earns college credits. It’s a great way to enhance your academic status and gain work experience before choosing a college.

Note that gap year programs aren’t available everywhere, but it’s a good idea to research your location to see if it’s an option. Even if you don’t find a program to earn credits, taking a year off from school still helps deliver a lot of clarity.

If you think you might want to move to a new state or country, a gap year can help. Even if the move doesn’t help gain career experience, it can help you gain a lot of real-world life experience.

Note that some countries even allow foreigners to teach English without a degree. However, most employers in those countries require an accredited TEFL certification before you can teach.

Military Options

If you’re interested in joining the military, you can either enlist directly or enroll in a four-year degree program with military training. Examples include military service academics, senior military colleges, and academies for maritime.

If you qualify, these military programs offer financial aid to their students. It’s a very cost-effective option compared to other options post high-school.

You might also consider an option like Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs. It involves getting a scholarship for a four-year university in exchange for military service after you graduate.

Start Working

While it certainly helps to gain experience or get a degree after high school, you can also start working right away. For example, you could start freelancing in fields like writing, construction, and even software engineering.

You could also pursue gig work such as Amazon deliveries, Uber driving, and DoorDash deliveries. It’s a great option if you want to make money right away to invest, or if you want to work part-time during your gap year.

If you have a business you’d like to eventually start, working right away can help you build the funds to start it later. If you work jobs related to the business you eventually wish to start, you can gain a lot of experience while earning a paycheck.

Post High-School Options

Now you have several diverse post high-school options to choose from. Whether you know exactly what you want to achieve or need a year to clear your head, follow your gut and don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

Take a look around the rest of our site for more education and career tips to help you on your journey.

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