Graduation is always an exciting time. Parents, friends, family, and teachers will cheer with pride as their graduate makes big choices about the future ahead. If you are a graduating senior or the parent or top fan of someone who is graduating, congratulations! Not every graduate knows exactly what they hope to do the minute they turn the tassel. You may be wondering what’s next. With plenty of time and great things ahead, here are some things you could consider to prepare for the future after graduating.
Trade or Tech School Options
Automotive and Diesel Technology program options are fantastic for students who are interested in mechanics. If diesel engines have always interested you or a student that you know, you might want to look into enrolling in a trade school or program. Some of these programs offer an associate’s degree while others offer certificates in skilled trades. Either way, you will come out ready to start that first full-time job ahead of your peers.
Not sure what field interests you? The great news is that many two-year community colleges offer a variety of trade school programs that will give you a taste of everything from farming and carpentry to mechanics, HVAC repairs, and plumbing. If you like working with your hands and think this might interest you, attend a job or college fair and bring a notebook with you. You might be surprised to learn what kind of options are in your own backyard.
Accelerated graduate business degree programs have become a popular option for business-minded students looking to combine their undergrad and graduate school experiences. Many schools offer programs that combine an undergraduate degree with an MBA. These programs, which run full time even through summer, can mean a master’s degree in as little as the same four years a bachelor’s degree might take. For this reason, they are considered extremely cost-effective and budget-friendly.
If an accelerated program sounds too intense for you or your student, consider a traditional four-year undergraduate college program or even a liberal arts degree. If you aren’t sure what you want to study yet, that’s both normal and perfectly okay too. Take electives in many subjects and, soon enough, a major or specialty will become clear to you. In the meantime, you are still earning credits that will add up to a degree.
No matter what college road you choose, be sure to visit the campus if possible. What looks great on the internet might not feel the same in person. Where you can, invest in the time and money it takes to visit ahead. And bring a notebook with you. You will want to ask questions.
For some looking to give back, serve, and even grow as people, the military is the next best step. These special students will want to consider exactly what jobs they hope to do and what training they might get out of military enrollment for their own future. Whether planning a lifelong military career or looking at it as another step toward the future, you want a strategic plan before talking to a recruiter.
Depending on what country you’re from, the military and its options will be different. In America, for example, students can choose which corps they serve in and are tested for their natural vocational and academic skill sets. This information can be invaluable when making big decisions about the future. As you do your research, look into the possibility of using the military to earn money for school, provide training, and other perks of serving your country.
Charity and Community
While you may want to head off to university, there are other options for how to spend this first year off after graduating. For some, a gap year is important to self-exploration, and being sure that any money spent investing in the future is worth it. The options out there are nearly endless.
Have you always wanted to give back? Does community service interest you? Look at local non-profits or services agencies that provide internships or programs for students. You might be surprised to find how many stipend volunteer or even paid internship programs there are out there. Some even include international travel for research and service if travel is something that interests you. A great way to learn about these opportunities is to talk to your high school guidance department. Your guidance counselor may have just the right lead for you. Better still, they will look great down the road on your resume.
If you or your student will be moving out, now is a good time to consider getting rid of that high school clunker and buying a reliable vehicle. Car loans don’t have to be intimidating and dealerships will work with most credit scores if you have money for a car payment and can commit to financing. Because most students don’t have long credit history reports, interest rates may be higher if you or your student is a new graduate but that should not steer you away from the car finance process.
There are ways to work around this including a reliable co-signer with good credit. A parent or grandparent could go a long way in helping a student secure a car payment to build credit right out of school. While this requires a more complicated credit application, it could also save hundreds at the mechanic if the student has reliable transportation to work, home, or school.
For students without this financial support, there are plenty of reliable used vehicles. A quick look at Kelley blue book will be a good way to know if you are getting a deal. Small dealers and even private owners can help you complete the qualification purchase or cash sale with very little paperwork. While the auto loan or even purchase process can seem intimidating, it’s a great first step into your next chapter.
Graduating can also mean a change in living arrangements. Some students move off to dorm rooms or get apartments with friends and peers or co-workers. Whatever your plan is, doing your research before signing a lease is always a good idea. Be sure your enrollment is locked down, that job offer is secure, or that your next step is a sure thing before signing a lease. The last thing you want to do right after graduation is to find yourself in a bad credit situation.
The Next Chapter
No matter what you decide to do, be sure to ask yourself what your final goal is. While it’s unusual for a fresh high school graduate to have their life planned out, it’s good to have an idea of the general direction you want to move. Where do you see yourself in five years? What’s important to you? What was your favorite subject in school? How would family and friends describe you? What are you good at? What do you hate to do? These sorts of self-reflective questions will go a long way in helping you lock down a plan for the future. By looking inward, you will spend less time worrying and more time eagerly planning the future.
Before you get too serious about planning your future, remember to celebrate this first achievement. Pick something to do that you can be excited about as a reward for your hard work. This time to regroup is not only deserved but will put you in a better place to plan for your future if you are both rested and happy. Take time to celebrate you, your parents, family, and classmates too. Happy graduation!