Transitioning from High School to the Real World

By: Wanish Tortes McGinnis

People of all kinds in the work force.

As one transitions from high school to “life after high school,” here are some recommendations that one can tweak to their own version of “Life 101”. Many high school students are used to being the “big fish in the little pond.” After graduation, and as they enter college or trade school, they find themselves the “little fish in the big ocean.” It’s important to make new acquaintances.  Don’t be afraid to get to know others; they may have the connections you need for the future. 

First, it’s probably best not to take a break after high school before attending college or a trade school. If you have been given advice from family and friends, take it with an open mind, say thank you, and consider all avenues for your success. Internships and volunteer service in the field in which you are interested can help to guide you in your decisions. When you enroll in classes, get your general education requirements done first. Go to EVERY class in your schedule, even on Fridays. Give it your best effort; strive to get an “A” in the course. If you are shy or don’t really know people in your class, ask to join a study group that meets your style of study; the best groups are the ones that meet at the library in a quiet study room. 

When you get your schedule, make sure you have enough funds to purchase your books. Most books will be anywhere from 100 dollars and up, depending on your course of study. You will also need notebooks, blue books for tests, binders, and notebook paper. Add to that list a calendar and organizer. If you are lucky, you will have received a laptop or computer somewhere in high school, or as late as graduation. 

Developing a good financial history with your bank and the people you do business with will give you financial freedom. Stay away from any junk mail that offers you credit cards. Get a debit card at the bank where you deposit any money from paychecks or gifts of money. Have a savings account, as well as a checking account. Use cash when you can, and keep to your budget that you will set up. If you have a part-time job, your paycheck needs to be divided up in the following ways: 10% of the total goes to savings. 15% of the total goes to your church or a charity of your choice. The rest will need to be budgeted for groceries for two weeks,  the laundromat (unless mom will let you use her washer/dryer!), which will cost about $20 per week, and extras (movie, occasional meal out). Don’t eat out too much; put money aside to treat yourself or yourself and a friend during the month. Buy what you need, not what you want. If you want a bigger TV, then put money aside to save up for the TV. Do not buy anything on “time”, unless it’s an appliance you need, and then pay it off early.

It’s okay to be unsure or nervous about the next steps- just keep moving forward. You may change your mind a hundred times before you land where you are meant to be, but when you get there your heart will tell you. If your choice of major is not what you had planned it to be, see if there is a similar type of job in the same area, or change your major. Many students will start out in their field of choice, and within a couple of years, change to a similar or different major. 

If you’re looking for an easy transition from school into the workforce, you likely already have a few job and career ideas in mind. However, not all careers are the same in terms of earning potential, entry-level position availability, and so on. If you’ve taken CTE (career technical education) courses or have significant work experience, you’re likely headed down a particular track already. If you have some hobbies or passions that you can make money from doing after high school, look into those options. There are several possibilities when it comes to transitioning from high school to a career, and here we look at some of the best options for students who wish to go this route. 

Some 30 percent of this year’s three million graduating seniors will not go straight to college or a trade school,  a number that is increasing as the economy becomes inflated. More graduates are finding that going to work out of high school may be financially more secure such as working retail, auto shops, restaurants, family businesses, or construction, so they can put money away since some of these graduates are on the less profitable side of the vast economic and cultural divide that is demarcated by a college degree. 

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