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What's Next After High School? Career Options and Other Possibilities

By: Jordin Frey

Graduating from high school is a big step. After all, students spend 13 years in school from kindergarten to 12th grade. Their days had been structured and devoted to learning, and now, they need to figure out what to do after high school and how to thrive on their own, without that structure.

There are plenty of after high school options within your reach. The most common suggestion for students graduating high school is to apply to college. College is a great way for students to continue their education and focus on a field of study that will eventually turn into a career. But, not everybody wants to go to college.

What Can I Do After High School Besides College?

After high school, you can choose from a variety of different paths that may be a better fit for students who aren't interested in going to college.

  • Some students take time off after high school in what's called a gap year. Gap years can be good for students who aren't sure that they want to go to college; instead, they take a year off to work, travel, or pursue an internship. This can help students narrow down their after high school career options. And, if they choose to return to school, they may have a better idea of what they want to study.
  • Trade schools and technical schools are also options after high school. When students enroll in one of these schools, they can get specific vocational training that gets them ready for skilled careers. These programs are more affordable than many colleges and often require less than four years to complete the program.
  • Joining the military is one of the post high school options that is also available once students graduate. The military has several diverse branches and pays a salary, room and board, and retirement benefits. The military also can help with college tuition.
  • Volunteering is also an option. It can build character, and there are plenty of volunteer programs worldwide that let you to help people and see new places. They may even offer free housing. Though unpaid, volunteering is valuable in way to explore how one can use their skills to positively impact the world around them.
  • Join the workforce. Some students immediately look into after high school career options following graduation. Not everybody is interested in school; some would rather jump right into the workforce. They may want to start their own business or work at an established business they’re familiar with.

Having alternatives to the traditional four-year college degree program is great for students who don't feel that college is right for them. With so many different kinds of students out there and so many different careers that need to be filled, college is only one option out of many for high school graduates.