Prepare or Beware: Top 10 Ideas to Prepare for Your Destination After High School


As we are currently entrenched in high school, completing mounds of homework, socializing with friends, and studying for countless tests, the future appears as if it is thousands of miles away. But in reality, the future is right around the corner. As the time to graduate inches closer and closer, we will go from planning our ambitions to making our dreams come to fruition. We will graduate from deciding what activities we want to do within a given day or week to deciding what we want to do with the rest of our lives. 

Depending on where you’re headed, you might have in mind possible avenues. There are endless options, some of which include more traditional routes, routes off the beaten path, and routes that have gained a greater audience in recent years. There are a plethora of options available to high schoolers, including heading off to college, entering the workplace, signing up for military service, attending trade school or vocational school, or taking a gap year. It is never too soon to find which one is right for you and prepare in advance. 

1. Ignore the “one-size fits all” approach

Have an image in your mind of the direction you want to take, know what goals you want to attain and set reasonable and attainable goals that set you up for success. Leah Chudy, a junior, explained how we are all different and each person has different goals that work best for them, “[what] will work for some people, won’t work for me and that’s okay. Especially when it comes to classes and school in general.” Chudy describes the competitive atmosphere at LHS, “I think it’s so easy to compare” referring to people’s reactions when grades are released, “[It’s] so easy to draw contrast [to], Oh, what did you get on that? Or what did I get on that?…But just reminding myself that I bring something different to the table.”


2. Keep your motivation on “full”

It’s crucial to have motivation and determination to achieve your ambitions. For example, creating a mirror of encouragement, much like the picture on the cover photo, could bring a smile to your face and give you the fuel you need to move full speed ahead. One of my teachers this semester mentioned how important it is for students to stay motivated: “Imagine ourselves on a racetrack and we are nearing the finish line. We shouldn’t stop now, but keep pushing forward towards breaking the red ribbon to finish the race, with vigor and determination.” This comparison of high school to a racetrack truly sums up the high school experience, as every day certainly has felt like running a marathon. 


3. Build healthy relationships

It’s crucial to surround yourself with encouraging people that can lift you up. Chudy says, “I think the hardest thing to do is high school all by yourself. And, even if it’s just making a friend in your class…you’ll get excited for the class because…you’ll get to see the teacher you really like. And it makes all the work just a little bit more like bare bones. And, then you could study with other people…it’s just [about] building relationships.”

4. Find opportunities to gain experience

To truly know you’ll be content where you’re heading, take action to try out that profession, research that company, volunteer in your community or visit that place for yourself. You could become an intern, practice job shadowing, take a class or connect with mentors who are already living the life you aspire to one day to live. Hannah Romie, a junior, explained how she found opportunities to gain experience: “…it’s very valuable to look for opportunities and also to explore different interests and see what you might want to do after high school.” Romie’s family members have careers in the medical field, specifically doctor & pharmacists. She added, “So that definitely helps me to be able to see and experience some of what they do every day and their jobs and I found that interesting. As well as different opportunities from classes here, such as Human Anatomy and Physiology, or chemistry classes.”

5. Find what interests you

Romie provided advice to those who are deciding what career path they want to take, “…look for what interests you and there’s always going to be some type of job or career path that can help you fulfill that if you just focus on what you enjoy and not what other people are pressuring you to do…” Romie says how this idea has helped her, “I think it’s helped me to look for different opportunities or schools or careers that are more interesting to me and that makes it more engaging. …interesting and meaningful.” In addition to finding out what interests you, Chudy’s advice is to plan ahead and constantly learn: “I think planning ahead is something I’ve had to get better at [in] my junior year, especially because I took a lot of harder classes [and] just being more conscious of time management. I want to learn more outside of what I know so far.”

6. Keep an open mind

Life is dynamic where plans are continually changing. Rather than shutting potential doors life has opened, it is better to be willing to try new things and consider all options. Although Romie mentioned that she has not yet decided which college or university she would like to attend, she knows what interests her. Romie shared, “I realized that I really enjoy science and I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. Specifically, I want to major in biochemistry and on the pre-med track, so I will be looking for a four-year college to help me do that.” Chudy mentioned that her parents and sister went to college and it has helped them. She explores possible majors and minors she may want to look into: “I want to continue my education. I think watching my parents do that and how it’s helped them and my sister did it.” Chudy says that having an open mind is very important: “Look at everything from different [perspectives and] from other people’s perspective. It makes you a much more understanding, compassionate person.”

7. Practice resilience

There’s a saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” If you’ve encountered roadblocks with your goals and dreams along the way, or find yourself struggling, find a way to recover from setbacks, build your confidence, think positive, try again with a different approach and keep going in the face of adversity. For example, the inspirational song by Frank Sinatra has these lyrics: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” Chudy explained how she practices resilience: “But I think making myself uncomfortable, putting myself in uncomfortable positions to become a better person. 

8. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself

Chudy says, “I think I’ve always been benefited by that new experience, by that new challenge.”

She speaks to sophomores in coaching them on how to take on junior year, “…this is kind of a message to the sophomores right now. But [junior year] is definitely something that you’re capable of, and you’re gonna make it. It’s going to be as hard as you make it on yourself…I think the message I just want to send to them is that you are capable of doing these hard things that you think you’re so scared of…. don’t be afraid to challenge yourself…put yourself out there…you’re totally capable of it…You can do it!”

9. Ask for advice

Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice so you can learn from their experiences, struggles and triumphs. Setbacks are the building blocks of success. When one understands how to climb them, the whole world is in your reach. Romie applied this idea to find out what career she wants to pursue, “The CRC at LHS has been very helpful for me, as have [the advice of] teachers and…family. Chudy describes how she takes this idea into account in her day to day life,“…ask so you don’t struggle and so you’re not just there hanging out. [It is] so much more productive to ask for help than just sit in your own confusion…I always try to talk to people at my tables in class. I feel…it makes me more excited to go to class if I talk to those around me. I mean, as simple as just, Oh, how’s everyone’s day going? Kind of thing? … [it] makes everyone’s days a little bit better.”

10. Thank those who make everything possible

Express your gratitude by showing loved ones your appreciation for their role in making you the person who you are today. This could be completed through crafting a sentimental message, letter, drawing, or heartfelt statement for those who have made a lifetime of opportunities possible. Thank your family, friends, or others you are grateful for. When someone has helped you with your endeavors, in addition to thanking them, “repay” the kindness by helping others with their endeavors. Helping people will not only make you feel happy, but others will appreciate and remember your kindness. Chudy shares her experience with this idea, “I’ve always had really good teachers who want me to do well…who want me to reach for the higher grade. I’m very grateful for my teachers and my parents…I feel like my teachers’ work and effort [makes] it more possible for me to do well.” Chudy added, “During COVID, my teachers did a really good job at being flexible and working with me at the end of the semester.”