Teens and parents can make the most of their high school experience while establishing a foundation for college and career achievement by developing short- and long-term goals along their high school journey.
“What are you going to do after you graduate from high school?”
For many teens and their parents, answering this question can feel overwhelming. Thankfully deciding on life after high school graduation is a process, not an event. With early planning, determining what comes next—and experiencing the journey toward it—can and should be fun and rewarding.
A simple timeline of how to make the most of your journey looks like this:
“If you’re someone who is in the process of going to college, don’t stress,” says Club teen Bella W., who supports youth leadership through Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Keystone program. This year, Bella joins a group of outstanding teens planning the National Keystone Conference, where kids from Keystone Clubs around the nation come together to participate in community service projects, boost their academic achievement, ready for future careers and bond with teens from all over. Bella’s excited to represent her local Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.
“Taking your time is the best advice,” says Bella. “It takes a while to fully understand the switch from high school to college.”
As with any worthwhile pursuit, success happens when preparation meets opportunity. You can begin moving toward your college and career success story by first thinking about the activities and interests that you love.
“Figuring out what your hobbies are or even just experimenting with your thoughts will also help you make that final decision,” says Bella.
While your interests, talents and skills may change, your passion—a purpose to which you are devoted—is something that remains with you throughout your life. Matching your passion to your class load or career choices can result in fulfilling opportunities to succeed and help you avoid workplace burnout or feeling disconnected from the subject matter.
Bradly H., teen at Wake Forest Boys & Girls Club, says, “It’s a good idea to know your personal values when looking into higher education.”
With help from family members, counselors, mentors and role models, you can begin to determine what excites and inspires you to fulfill your purpose.
Ask yourself or have conversations with the people in your life around:
For as long as Clubs have been existence, Club youth have constantly received aid and inspiration in striving toward their life’s purpose and potential. Take alum Ruth E. Carter, who recently won her second Academy Award for Costume Design for her costume creations in the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Her outstanding achievement, and the impact she has made in the world of fashion, blossomed from her love of swimming, drawing and sewing as a member of the Springfield Family Center Boys & Girls Club.
When Boys & Girls Clubs of Pasadena Alumni Earl Carlyss won a violin competition at age 10, he realized that playing the violin was something he wanted to do for a lifetime. With the help and encouragement of his Club director, Carlyss applied for and won the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Epstein Fine Arts Fund Grant which led to studying his craft in France at the Paris Conservatoire and in New York City at The Julliard School. Carlyss went on to perform thousands of concerts and make hundreds or recordings. The three-time Grammy Award winner teaches violin and chamber music at Julliard today.
At Boys & Girls Clubs today, kids and teens discover their passions through myriad experiences and activities, from job shadowing on-site to career aptitude tests to having speakers come to the Club.
One such resource is the Roadmap to Careers tool, available virtually to Club kids, and made possible by Navient, national partner of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The digital career-exploration product helps youth to learn more about careers that match their interests. At the same time, the program provides kids with key skillsets to achieve whatever vocation they choose, creating an action plan and hearing from insights in leaders in a wide array of industries.
Regardless of their field of interest, all kids can benefit from activities and experiences that support building essential skills. These transferable skills go across industries and jobs to support young people in being qualified college and job candidates, as well as strong students:
Once you have zeroed in on your prospective career or field of interest, be sure to take full advantage of counselors, mentors and resources to establish a pathway toward your college and career goals with confidence.
This could be as simple as having regular conversations with the people in your life (parents, friends, mentors, etc.) around your passions and career interests, so that they keep you in mind when they see an opportunity that might be good for you. Or it could be as complex as joining a program or training to help build on-the-job skills.
Steps to take to get the career you want might include:
Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs like CareerLaunch and diplomas2Degrees (d2D) program help teens equip themselves with the tools they’ll need to excel their college, vocational training, and other endeavors.
“Seize every opportunity for a scholarship,” says Anaya B., Club teen at Boys & Girls Club of Southern Nevada. “Apply for as many scholarships as possible so you can increase your chances of financial independence.”
Having a financial plan is one of the most important parts of the transition from high school to college. Much more than just tuition and textbooks, it’s good to remember that college costs also include travel to and from home, housing, meal plans, clothing, laundry and then some.
When it comes to paying for college there are different options to take into consideration:
“Research online, get involved with a Club or ask college students you know how they were able to financially set themselves up for a success,” says Anaya. Many Boys & Girls Club programs, such as leadership program Youth of the Year, provide opportunities for young people to earn college scholarships.
In addition to having a plan for affording college, housing, etc., it’s also beneficial for teens to have financial literacy and know how to earn, save and budget wisely. From navigating the grocery store for the first time alone to deciding how to divvy up a first paycheck, Club program Money Matters: Make It Count guides teens in developing smart financial management skills including budgeting, saving and sustaining financial stability throughout college and beyond.
Whether you’re seeking employment such as a work-study job as a part of your college financial planning efforts or looking for hands-on experience to support your ultimate career goals, now is the time to get your resume ready and start identifying opportunities that support your success.
Lean on your networks, ask around and review postings around campus and your community. There are also two major digital platforms job-seekers should familiarize themselves with:
Navigating the journey to college and career can be stressful, but as long as you and your teen connect with their interests and plan ahead, it’s also an exciting time of discovery as they embark on their great future.
Navient is a prominent producer of education loan management and business processing solutions for healthcare, government, and education clients at local, state and federal levels. Committed to promoting opportunities for all young people nationwide by providing access to post-secondary education and financial readiness tools, Navient has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America since 2021.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America supports today’s young people in thriving academically while building essential skills for the workforce.