Students face ominous decisions when they graduate

Most high school students do not feel prepared to decide on their futures


A group of high school students working on assignments. (Photo taken by Sydney Curry)

Sydney Curry, Staff Writer

Every high school student is tasked with the decision of what to do after high school.

It could be college or perhaps the military. It could be getting a job after high school and hoping to move up the ladder.

Many difficult decisions are thrown at teenagers who often feel overwhelmed by the process. The decision about what to do after high school is arguably one of the biggest decisions of most teens’ lives. 

“I find myself excited about the opportunity, but it’s a nervous kind of excitement,” said junior Maddie Willaims. “I want to graduate high school and go to college, but I’m scared to grow up. It’s definitely going to be a shock to the system being on my own.¨ 

In a recent BestColleges survey of 1,000 currently enrolled high school students, 52% say they feel pressure to make decisions about their future, and they also feel the decision must be made too soon.

A very small percentage of people will lock in on what they believe is the right career and stay with that. The majority are still stuck figuring out what is right for them. 

¨I feel I have plenty of time to think about what I want to do after high school, but I´m being forced to make decisions now.¨ said junior Cora Valentin.

There are a ton of occupations, and most of them involve more than one skill area. School counselors, teachers, and parents can help point students in the direction of occupations that match their interests and skills. It can come down to figuring out what classes they should take to prepare them for what they want to do. Another option may be to take classes that teach them basic life skills.

¨I felt that taking personal finance class would help me in college and after high school later on,” said senior Delisha Perry. “That’s why I wanted to take the class.¨

There is no easy way to figure out what to do after high school.  Most students know very little about the wide range of real-world careers that exist. 

According to Forbes, Over 70% of people don’t feel prepared for the future of work according to a study of 3,000 people conducted by Amazon and workplace intelligence, which is a research agency located in Newton Massachusetts.

In college alone, a study by Exploration.osu shows as many as 50 to 75% of all undergraduate students change majors at least one time before earning a degree.  

¨I didn’t know what major to pick in college, so I choose undecided as my major to figure out exactly what I wanted to do,” said Isabel Chaplin, who attends Northampton Community College. She graduates in August 2026.

When thinking about what to do after high school, it is important to start early and figure out a plan. In Bestcolleges’s survey, studies show that as high schoolers ponder their post-graduation plans, students have primarily sought advice about life after high school from family (72%), friends (51%), and school faculty or staff (45%).

According to the same survey, 33% of high school students have turned to the internet or other media such as books or television for advice about what to anticipate after school, 31% have asked their peers, and only 11% have sought advice from current or previous employers or coworkers.

¨I already know what I want to do still, but thereś is a chance that I´d want to change career paths or alter my goals in some way.¨ said, Valentin.

There are ways to start planning and relieving anxiety. 

Try writing a list of all your interests, then research careers that align with them. Researching jobs can help you decide if this job seems to interest you.

You may also talk to your parents. Think of what career they do and what they like and don’t like about their job. You can also ask your teachers or any mentors in your life.

There are plenty of people willing to help and reach out. Millions of people go through the same process of what to do after high school and face the same pressures. All you have to do is ask. You might even surprise yourself with what you find.