It is that time of year when high school graduations will be front and center. These festive events are filled with congratulations, high fives and tears of joy. It is my opinion that in many ways the high school graduation is a rite of passage. It signals that a young person has crossed into adulthood. The many years of late nights, writing papers and taking copious notes have all paid off. Students will have many fond memories of field trips, club affiliations and favorite teachers. Some students will graduate with multiple honors while others are happy just to finish high school.
The common element among them all is that they are now members of the class of 2016. Parties and receptions are held in honor of the graduates. They are toasted and roasted and a good time is had by all. The lurking question in the minds of both graduates and parents alike is what is the next step after high school? Let’s take a quick tour of the available options.
First and foremost, we must make the assumption that new high school graduates will want to take another step. It is my strong belief that doing nothing is not an option. Parents will agree. Many high school graduates will enter college either during the summer or the fall of this year, and some high school graduates already have earned some college credits. What is important, I think, for students going to college is that they really want to go. It sounds simple but it is true. I will say more on that later. The academic bar is raised, and more is expected of you.
Late nights writing papers will turn into later nights. Deadlines for receiving papers will be listed in the all-important syllabus that you will receive from your teacher at the first class meeting. There are some high school graduates who have trouble adjusting to college because they were accustomed to getting assignments done at the last minute. I speak from my experience both as a college student and as a college teacher that this strategy does not work. You will only meet with frustration and failure. Going to college for the right reasons is also extremely important. Going to college to be with your friends, to escape real work or because your parents “forced” you to go will probably not keep you in college. The rigors and demands of college are such that you will have to stay focused.
Increasingly, there are more students coming out of high school who want a position with training. The most important part of this option is that it is a job with training. The training element allows you to advance and to acquire new skills. Going into a job without a training component will not give students the job satisfaction that they need. In fact, some graduates will job hop until they find one with a training opportunity. Many companies because of downsizing are willing to invest in new high school graduates by training them for a long-term commitment. There are some companies that will also pay for college courses or provide tuition reimbursement. Either way gets your foot in the door and keeps it in the door. A lot of high school graduates want hands-on experience, so getting a position after high school is a great idea. To some, sitting in a classroom all day is boring so they would rather be on the job practicing their craft.
The Armed Services is another wonderful opportunity for many high school graduates. Memorial Day is coming, and it reaffirms the important role that the military has played in shaping our country and allowing us to live free each day. We probably take our service personnel for granted because they have always been there for us. Recent wars have given us new perspectives on just how important our men and women in uniform are. High school graduates who are interested in the military should thoroughly research their chosen branch. As you might have heard, requirements are getting tougher. It is a great career choice with wonderful opportunities. Parents and love providers of new high school graduates need to give them support and encouragement. Knowing that you are in their corner will give them a big boost. Not to worry as their success may not happen on your time table but it will happen, just on their time table.
The competition for all of these options has become increasingly more competitive. My advice is to take your options seriously and don’t waste any time. Your high school days will soon be behind you. You will close that chapter and enter a new chapter filled with both opportunities and challenges.
Good luck and much success. Keep your dreams ever alive and never, ever give up!