The Junior year of high school is often considered the “Golden Age” of the high school career, when students are comfortable in their school and not under last-year stress before college. It’s also the optimal time to think hard about your college plans, and their implication for future careers. While you don’t have to make any decisions immediately, preparing yourself with information and a well-structured set of goals is the first and critical step. Here are three quick tips for high school Juniors to put you on the right path:
1. Take time to think about what you like to do; dream and imagine ideal careers. With so many different types of jobs and careers, and more emerging every day, it can be overwhelming to try to visualize yourself in a job 3-5 years down the road. Even if you are fairly sure of a career choice, take the time in high school to explore similar (or even vastly different) careers. Explore all your options. Examine your likes and dislikes and take a few career-assessment tests. Answer the question, if you could have any job right now, what would it be — and why? Don’t let any barriers hold you back from finding the perfect career. Your education should be designed to suit your goals, not the other way around.
2. Challenge yourself in high school, but don’t overwhelm yourself. High school is free education, a fact that you’ll appreciate when you are being faced with spending tens of thousands of dollars for college! When you can, take the tough and challenging schedule of classes; you’ll learn more — and it will look good to the college admissions staff. Obviously, you need to stay focused on getting good grades, but don’t overload your schedule — or yourself — so that it makes you sick or burnt out. Be sure to include at least one fun course in your schedule.
3. Discuss careers and colleges with as many adults and other graduates as possible. The best way to find out about different careers is to ask people — family, neighbors, friends, teachers, counselors — to tell you about their career and college experiences. If you have not already, begin to build a network of adults who know you and are willing to assist you in your educational and career endeavors. And for careers that truly interest you, consider asking each person if you can shadow him/her at work. You could also consider conducting informational interviews at the same time as the shadowing, or as a less intrusive method of learning more about jobs and careers.