By Ms. Dalphine Humphrey, Special to the Sword and Shield

Deciding what to do after high school can be a bit scary.  But it is possible to ease that tension if you do your homework.  There are several options for you after graduation.  You can go directly into the workforce, join the military, go to a postsecondary school or take a break.  Let’s look at all of these options.

WORKFORCE

Entering the workforce is an option for individuals who are not interested in attending a college or university directly after high school, [b]ut entering the workforce may not be as easy as one would think.  In today’s economy, there are numerous applicants for the same position.  Making sure that you stand out is a must.  For entry-level work, employers are looking for basic academic skills like reading for detail, following written directions, interpreting pictorial information, performing basic calculations, checking for accuracy, writing standard English, completing forms correctly, conducting work activities in appropriate sequence, identifying alternative solutions and collecting and organizing information.  They are also looking for people who come to work on time and stay for a full shift, with self control, who respect other’s ideas and who know how to work in a team.

In addition, you may choose to enter a profession where you learn a trade or craft.  Professions such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters or heating and refrigeration technicians learn while on the job. This allows you a hands-on learning environment and leads to very lucrative careers.

MILITARY

Entering the military is an option for those who enjoy a strict and structured environment and are interested in defending our country. Preparation to do so should begin in high school to expedite the process once you have graduated.  If you are serious about entering a branch of the military, then you need to be serious about taking the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).  We offer the ASVAB every November…at Keenan.  Sometimes students are not serious and don’t score well; make sure you take advantage of every opportunity you have.  Going into the military can also include going to college while you are serving.  See a recruiter for more information and all of your options.

POST-SECONDARY SCHOOL

Post-secondary school is an option for those who would like to develop a skill or further their education.  There are options in choosing post secondary schools.

Technical/Two-Year School

Before heading to a four-year school just because of your friends, check to see if an associate’s degree is better for you.  A technical school provides such benefits as more hands-on learning, saving money in tuition and other expenses, receiving more personal attention from professors, a focus on occupations and career programs and training for your career.  You could also choose to attend a two-year school before transferring to a four-year school.

College/University

Attending a four-year school is the goal of most students, [b]ut being accepted to your college of choice is not as easy as you think.  Your high school coursework was designed to prepare you for college.  Taking advantage of all that your teachers have to offer is one way to make sure you are prepared.  Also you must take and score well on the ACT or SAT.  In addition, make sure you participate in extracurricular activities.  Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and taking time to do some research can pay off in the long run.

TAKING TIME OFF

Taking time off after high school is an option if you don’t feel ready to attend college.  During this time there are several things you can do.  Working to save money is an option when you think about the costs of tuition, living expenses and books to attend college.  You can also gain career experience by working in a field that interests you.  In addition, you could volunteer your time.  Even though you will not earn a salary while volunteering, you could earn a stipend, college credit or scholarship money through organizations such as City Year or Americorps.  Colleges won’t necessarily think you made a bad choice by taking time off.  They will take into account how much you have matured and gained through life experiences during your break.  It’s not too late to make this decision even if you have already been accepted to a college; just notify them that you would like to defer your enrollment.

Preparing for your future is something that should be taken very seriously.  Put forth an effort like your life depended on it because in actuality it does.

Ms. Humphrey is a member of Keenan’s Guidance Department.

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