KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

How To Help Your Teen Decide What To Do After High School

highschool grad career choices

After high school, teenagers have their whole lives ahead of them. While college was once the popular choice, recent years have seen more graduates opt for different paths. As a result, the next steps can be confusing for most teens. 

Chances are, your child is no exception. As a parent, it's important to help them figure out their next steps carefully. While the process of establishing a solid plan can be complicated, it can also be a rewarding task with the right approach. To assist your teen in making the best decision, continue reading below.

Step 1: Discover Your Teen’s Interests And Skills

As your child approaches the end of high school, it's important to help them discover their interests and skills. This will enable them to choose a path that aligns with their passions and strengths, increasing their chances of success in the long run. For example, if they’re showing interest in medicine, preparing for medical school can be done early the sooner they learn about it. It means they can start taking preparatory classes and the right extracurriculars while still in high school. Here are some strategies to help your teen discover what they like:

  • Encourage Your Child To Explore Different Activities: Encourage your teen to try out different activities that interest them, such as sports, music, art, or volunteering. This will help them discover what they enjoy and what they're good at.

  • Have A Conversation With Your Child: Set aside some time to have a conversation with your teen about their interests and passions. Ask open-ended questions, such as "What are you passionate about?" or "What do you enjoy doing in your free time?" This will help you get a better understanding of what your child is interested in.

  • Consider Personality Tests: Personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Big Five Personality Traits, can help your teen identify their personality type and provide insights into their interests and strengths. 

Remember, the goal of this step is to help your child discover their passions and strengths. By doing so, they'll be better equipped to choose a path that aligns with their goals and aspirations. 

Step 2: Research Different Options

Once your teen has a better understanding of their interests and skills, it's time to start researching different options for what to do after high school. There are many different paths to choose from, and it's important to explore all the options before making a decision. Here are some tips for researching different options:

  • College: If your child is considering college, research different schools and programs that align with their interests and goals. Look into the admission requirements and their performance as an institution.

  • Vocational School: Vocational schools offer training in specific trades, such as welding, plumbing, or cosmetology. Research different vocational schools and programs to find one that aligns with your teen's interests and goals.

  • Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training in a specific trade, often in partnership with a vocational school or trade organization. Research different apprenticeship programs in your area to find one that aligns with your child's interests and goals.

  • Gap Year: A gap year is a year off between high school and college or other post-high school options. If your teen needs it, let them have it. It will give them time to refocus. It would also mean having more time to learn more about what they really like.

Encourage your child to explore different paths and consider all the pros and cons before making a decision. 

Step 3: Evaluate The Financial Aspect Of Your Options

After researching different options, it's important to evaluate the financial aspect of things. This will help your teen make an informed decision based on their situation. Here are some tips for evaluating the financial aspect of each option:

  • College: Look into the cost of tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other expenses associated with attending college. Research financial aid options, such as scholarships, grants, and student loans, to help cover the cost. You may also look into affordable online college options if you're considering distance learning.

  • Vocational School: Do the same thing here: research the cost of tuition, fees, and supplies associated with attending a vocational school. Also, look into financial aid options that may help cover the cost.

  • Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships typically provide on-the-job training and a salary. Research the remuneration for the specific trade and location, and factor in the cost of any required coursework or materials. 

  • Gap Year: A gap year can be a cost-effective option, as your teen can work and save money during the year. However, it's important to factor in the cost of any gap year programs or travel expenses.

Remember, the goal of this step is to evaluate the cost of each option and determine what your family can afford. By doing so, your child can make an informed decision that not only aligns with their interests and skills but also their financial situation.

Step 4: Make The Decision

Once your teen has researched different options and evaluated the financial aspect, it's time to make a decision. This can be a difficult and overwhelming process, but there are some steps you can take to make it easier. Here are some of them:

  • Create A Pros And Cons List: Create a pros and cons list for each option. This will help your child see the advantages and disadvantages of each of their choices and make an informed decision. 

  • Consider The Long-term Implications: Ask your teen to evaluate the long-term implications of each option. Will it lead to a fulfilling career? Will it provide financial stability? Will it align with their values and goals? 

  • Seek Advice From Professionals: Encourage your child to seek advice from professionals, such as guidance counselors, career advisors, or financial planners. They can provide valuable insights and help your teen make an informed decision.

Final Thoughts

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Each person's path is unique, and it's important to consider all the factors before making a decision. Encourage your child to trust their instincts and choose the option that feels right for them.

Finally, it's important to remember that the decision isn't set in stone. Your teen can always change their path if they find that it's not the right fit. The most important thing is to keep an open mind, stay flexible, and be willing to adapt.