Earlier this week I wrote a post containing some tips and advice for all the new college graduates. But let’s not forget about the high school graduates as well. Tips and advice for the high school graduate are a bit different than for college graduates, since there are more possible paths to follow. When a person graduates college, there is (usually) one path to follow: getting a job. I know that technically there are other options, such as going right into graduate school, but most people wait at least a couple years for this. However, when a person graduates high school, there are many paths to choose from.
Traditional Four-Year Degree
Typically, we only hear about the path of going to a traditional four-year college and earning a bachelor’s degree. I agree that this is an extremely worthwhile plan, and the statistics bear this out. Over the course of a typical working career, an average person with a college degree will earn more than $1 million more than an average person with only a high school diploma. Even so, there are many things to keep in mind for the recent high school graduate moving on to college.
- Start Local: For most degree programs, your first two years are filled with general education courses totally unrelated to your major. By spending your fist year or two at a local college or university, you can complete this coursework at the fraction of the cost of a typical university. Not only is the tuition less expensive, but you can also forego the cost of room and board by living at home those first years.
- Take Classes Seriously: Many forms of scholarships and grants are only good for four years of college, and some come with stipulations such as maintaining a 3.0 GPA. Take your classes seriously, pay attention in class, and do your work. You’ll be paying good money for these classes, so don’t let it go to waste. Not only that, but the more you learn and the better you do in college, the better your resume and qualifications will be when you start looking for a job after graduating college.
- Choose an Affordable College: I understand that not all colleges are created equal. Some colleges do better prepare you for life after college than others. But there is no direct correlation between the price of college and the value of the degree. You can attend a quality state university for a lot less than a “prestigious” private institution, and be just as well prepared.
Enter the Workforce
Believe it or not, but college is simply not right for everyone. There are people that just don’t like school and would rather enter the workforce after high school than go back to school right away. And you know what? That’s fine. Some people need a year or two to get their bearings, mature, and figure out what they want to do. In the meantime, they can get an entry-level job that doesn’t require a college degree. They may decide later to go back to school and get a degree, or maybe start another form of job training or an apprenticeship program.
The point is that there are options out there for high school graduates other than a traditional college degree. A lot of people speak badly about this option, and I don’t really understand why. It’s better to do this than immediately go to college when you’re not ready, rack up student loan debt, and then either not graduate or graduate with a degree you never plan on using.
Random Tips & Advice
If you’re having a graduation open house, chances are you’ll receive some money as gifts. Don’t just blow it on iPad or something similar. If you’re going to college, use it to pay for your first semester of textbooks. If you’re going straight into the workforce, use it to buy a nice set of clothes for job interviews.
Whether you’re going to college or into the workforce, take on responsibilities. Join an on-campus club or organization. Ask your boss about projects you can do at work. Being responsible and dependable is one of the most valuable life skills you can possess.