So I am graduating high school, what now?

Factors for young people to consider when choosing a career.

This is the first in a series of articles to help answer the question, “So I am graduating from high school, what now?” Knowing what to do after high school can be daunting for many students and many factors need to be considered when making your career plan. With so many paths to choose from, young people often need guidance while narrowing down their options.

Understanding yourself can be an important first step for youth going through this process. To help you get started, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What are you good at or what do you have a special aptitude for?
  • What do you like to do or what are you interested in?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What extra-curricular activities or hobbies are you involved in?
  • What subjects do you like to learn about?
  • What are your values?
  • What are your work preferences?

Identifying your interests, skills, personality, values and work preferences can serve as a filter and help provide insight into a career that could be a good match. The National 4-H curriculum, Build Your Future: Choices, Connections, Careers, written by Michigan State University Extension, has many additional activities to help you learn what you like and don’t like.

In addition to understanding your own skills, assets and interests, understanding a career’s earning potential and job outlook are two other important factors to take into account when choosing a career path. As the Bureau of Labor Statisticschart indicates, those with higher educational attainment are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to have higher earnings.


In addition, Georgetown University’s publication Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020 also indicates employment opportunities increase with post-secondary education. The report breaks down the number of job openings by educational attainment as follows:

  • 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • 30 percent of job openings will require some college or an associate’s degree.
  • 36 percent of job openings will not require education beyond high school.

Using these figures, it is estimated that by the year 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require some college or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. As a result, deciding if post-secondary training is right for you is an important “now what” question and will be explored in a future article.

Though this may seem overwhelming to many, there are many resources available to help you explore careers, identify your talents and interests, enhance you skills, and ultimately develop a plan so you can become employable. For additional trainings, articles and resources to help young people prepare for their future career, check out the MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development websites.

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