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Making the Post-Grad Decision

A group of high school students at graduation wearing cap and gown.

You’ve tossed your cap in the air, bid adieu to the social media drama, and now you’re standing at the threshold of something new, exciting, and maybe a tad overwhelming: life after high school. If there is one question most high school seniors are tired of being asked, it’s, “what are you doing after high school?” Making a big decision about what’s next–a decision that can shape the next several decades of your life–is a lot of pressure.

Yep, it’s a whole new ball game. But fear not, because we’ll dive in together!

You might opt to join the workforce straight out of high school, jumping into full-time employment, typically around 40 hours a week. While the paycheck is exciting, remember, your net pay is what you receive after deductions, like taxes and benefits. These can vary, from health insurance to retirement plans, with some covered by your employer and others shared or fully paid by you.

Trade schools offer specialized programs focusing on skilled trades, often shorter than traditional college degrees. You might even be able to start earning credits toward a trade school degree while still in high school. If considering this path, be sure to ask key questions about the program’s specifics, such as accreditation and apprenticeship placement. Finding out the income-earning potential and length of program for the specific trade career you are considering can help you weigh whether the cost of the program is worth it. Community college can be a smart choice for either undecided students or those aiming to save money on transferable credits. Ensure transferability and be aware of varying school policies. Alternatively, going directly to a four-year institution is pricier, influenced by various factors.

What are your priorities? Here are several of the factors that impact cost:

  • Location
  • Public vs. Private
  • On-campus vs. Off-campus Housing
  • Meal Plan
  • Major (and how often you change it)

So as you embark on this exciting chapter, embrace the uncertainty, seize the opportunities, and trust in your ability to make the best decisions for yourself. The world is yours for the taking – make it count!