If you’re a recent high school graduate (or a current high school senior), you may be wondering what type of higher education program to pursue next semester. Maybe a traditional university program has never seemed like quite the right fit or maybe you’re just anxious to start a new career path rather than spending another four years in school. And the decisions don’t stop after you’ve picked a program: how to fund your education, where to live, and how to stay on top of your classes can all benefit from a little planning ahead of time.
The Imagine America Foundation wants to help you make your career training journey a success, so we’ve developed resources that can help you from beginning to end as you start a new semester.
Finding a program
Whether you know exactly what type of career you want to pursue or just that you’re ready to start something new, IAF has partnered with a robust network of educational institutions that provide hands-on training and can help you prepare for a career in a variety of areas. Not sure where to start? We’ve got a searchable database to help you choose the best school and program by both area of interest and location (including many online programs). Not sure what you want to train for? The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that wind turbine technicians, nurse practitioners, and software developers are among the occupations expected to see the most growth in employment rate between 2016 and 2026.
Succeeding in school
One of the best things about enrolling in a career training program instead of a traditional degree program is the focus on hands-on career training rather than a bunch of general education requirements. Don’t spend all your course hours sitting in a standard classroom like you did in high school: With a career training program, you can stay committed to learning the skills you’ll need on the job, spending more time mastering the material, training with experienced instructors, and preparing for a new career path. But take advantage of those study skills you’ve honed during your high school years! The focus, attentiveness, and patience you need when learning a new concept or skill is easy to maintain when you’re in school—and easy to lose once you’re out of the classroom. As a recent high school grad, you can put them to good use when tackling your college classes right away.
Career training programs often offer flexible scheduling, online courses, and the opportunity to learn more independently than during your senior year. This can make it possible to attend school while holding down a part-time or even full-time job, keeping commitments to family and friends, and enjoying your first few years of adulthood—but it can also lead to some pitfalls.
IAF has created a number of resources to help you learn how to budget your time, stay on track with your education, and graduate ready to pursue a new job. Because (as you well know) school isn’t just about the time you spend in class. Homework assignments, mastering the material, and studying for exams takes a time commitment outside the classroom too. Making time for all that extra work is just part of the routine when you’re in high school, but it can be hard to manage if you’ve started a full-time job or are juggling family responsibilities. By enrolling in a career training program now, you can make it easier on yourself to make time in your calendar for your schoolwork.
IAF knows that continuing your education isn’t just about keeping up with your homework. Relocating to a new state, trying to find places you can afford, qualifying for credit, getting furniture . . . living independently, especially for the first time, is not always easy. Our housing blog series can point you in the right direction whether you’re looking for off-campus housing, trying to understand your lease, or managing your own utilities. And we’ve partnered with Collegiate Housing Services, who helps schools provide affordable and convenient housing near their campuses.
Money may be no small obstacle to creating success, but IAF has developed some great resources to help you master your budget, navigate financial independence, and tackle debt. Our Financial Planning Made Simple tool was created specifically to help you make responsible borrowing decisions and helps you understand repayment options, interest accrual, and the difference between federal and private loans. Our series on financial literacy takes it one step at a time to investigate topics like credit, debt, saving, and types of financial institutions. We also want to help you save money directly by offering qualified students a scholarship: a $1,000 discount on your tuition to one of our partner schools. Our scholarship and award programs benefit thousands of students every year, and we hope you’ll be one of them!
Keeping the momentum
What this all really comes down to is momentum: as a high school senior or recent graduate, you’ve probably been in school for close to 15 years! By pursuing other goals outside your education as soon as you leave high school, it can be very easy to lose those learning skills, lose track of time, and lose your focus on making education a priority. Take advantage of the skills you’ve worked your whole life to develop and put them to use in a career training program, and let IAF help you keep the ball rolling with the new school year. We’re here to help prepare you for success, this year and beyond.