Life After GACHS: Post-Secondary Planning

Featured Photo: This week’s featured photo is of Perry, Georgia. Perry is where the Georgia state fair is held each year. You can find some of the tastiest food in the state at this fair and you can ride all of your favorite amusement park rides while enjoying beautiful Georgia weather. 

Life after High School

I know it may seem far away for some of you, but it is never too early to start thinking about life after you graduate high school. Some people know immediately what their life’s calling will be after they receive their diploma while others take a little longer when deciding. There are three main categories when it comes to post-secondary planning.

  • Entering the workforce
  • Attending college
  • Joining the Military

Each option comes with benefits and with what could be considered potential drawbacks. Each also comes with a unique set of requirements in order to be successful. Below I will give you an overview of all three as well as provide you with specific resources to assist you in being successful in each 

Earning a Paycheck: Entering the workforce

Some students choose to enter the workforce full-time as soon as they graduate high school. Those who choose to get a job as soon as they graduate may need the money from a steady paycheck to pay for rent, pay for other bills, or feed their families. A student may want the money to help purchase a large ticket item such as a car or a vacation to an exotic beach. 🙂 Whatever the reason is, going directly into the workforce has some powerful benefits which I will list below.

  1. Discovering which jobs or careers you like or dislike: This is important because often times students make the mistake of spending money attending college only to find out that their future job is not what they thought it would be. 
  2. Learning how to work with and cooperate with different types of people: Learning how to work with all types of people is a skill that will serve you well as you move through life. Some people are introverted (shy) and laid back while others are extroverted (outgoing) and are go-getters. Some people are neat and tidy while others are messy and seem to leave their personal things strewn about. It can be challenging to work with someone who does not have the same personality or work style as you, but it is something that you need to learn how to do in life. Entering the workforce gives you experience dealing with all sorts of people and provides you with the opportunity to learn how to handle stressful situations every day you’re on the job. 
  3. Acquiring a skill or trade: Getting a job after graduation offers students the opportunity to learn a skill or trade.  Getting a job in retail will teach a person how to stay organized and how to de-escalate a situation when someone is unhappy. Getting a job in waitressing will teach a person how to multi-task and stay calm under pressure. Getting a job in construction will teach a person how to work as a member of a team and help them learn valuable skills such as how to roof, lay concrete, and build structures. The best part? Every skill or trade learned on the job can be equally as important and helpful in everyday life 🙂

There are also some potential drawbacks to entering the workforce directly after school. These drawbacks include experiencing stress associated with your job and potentially getting stuck at a job you don’t like because you need the money. 

Hitting the Books: Attending College

Attending college is a post-secondary option for students that is beneficial in a multitude of ways. As Mr. Willis pointed out in his live session presentation, people who attend college are more likely to earn more money and less likely to experience unemployment. College has some other benefits as well which are listed below.

  1. Opportunities for travel and cultural experiences– One of my biggest regrets is that I did not take advantage of a study abroad experience in college. Studying abroad is one of the best ways to learn about a place and expand your cultural horizons. You can spend as little as two weeks or as long as a year studying abroad in a different country. It is very important to do your research and speak with members of your college community and family before signing up for a study abroad experience since international travel of any has risks associated with it. 
  2. A new set of friends who share the same interests as you– For those of you who long to leave your small town where everyone seems to know everything about each other, going to college allows you the opportunity to meet a whole new group of people in a brand new environment. These people will come from all over the country and all over the world. While they may have different personalities and a different set of values than you are accustomed to, the people you meet in your classes may end having the same interests as you which makes it easy to make new friends at college. 
  3. School Pride- Being Part of something larger than yourself- Even decades after graduation people still have an immense amount of pride about the schools they attended for their education. Whether this pride shows itself in a love for a sports team (UGA anyone) or by memorizing all of the words of your school song, attending college and developing a connection to the people and place your schooling occurs in is a huge benefit to attending college. You will have something in common with thousands of other people who have walked the campus and halls before you and with the thousands who will do so after you. 

There are a few potential drawbacks to college and these include incurring loans, having to learn how to manage your time, and living with another person or set of people! All of these negatives are small potatoes compared to what it is you gain from attending college. However, each student should consider how all of the above will impact them and have a discussion with their counselor in order to figure out the best choice for them 🙂

Lacing up your Boots: Serving our Country

Joining the U.S Military after high school allows you to earn money while serving your country and provides you with a skill set that you may be able to use after your career in the military comes to an end. Joining the military is not for everyone as it requires physical training and the ability to relocate which can and will take you away from family and friends. The very first thing you should think about doing if you are interested in joining the military is conduct research. You can visit the website for any of the branches you are interested in and find hundreds of jobs. As I mentioned in Mr. Willis’ live session, the best way I have heard the jobs available in the military described is that whatever job you can find in a city- you can find in the military. After you have a list of the jobs you are interested in and you have had a conversation with your school counselor it is time to meet with a recruiter. Your recruiter’s role is similar to that of a school counselor in that they will provide you with resources and information in order to help you make the best decision for yourself. Below read about some of the other benefits the military can provide you with.

  1. Discipline- The military will ingrain in you a sense of discipline so strong that the people you have known your entire life may not recognize you after you complete your basic training or boot camp. Things that once seemed hard to imagine like making your bed or working out will become habits and may even become things that you enjoy.
  2. World Travel- One of the reasons people join the military is that it affords them the opportunity to live in different regions of not only our own country (think Alaska and Hawaii) but in other countries as well. There are military installations all over the world and whether or not you are there as a resident per your military orders or on an assignment seeing the world is inevitable. 
  3. Educational Assistance- There are many resources that the military provides its employees with to help them pay for school. These include schools that work with your schedule as a soldier and resources like the G.I Bill which can assist you in providing funds for the school. It is important that you understand what is required in order to use educational assistance from the military. This is something your recruiter and once you are in the service your career counselor can answer. 

The military has some drawbacks associated with it as well which include being separated from family and friends for long periods of time, high-stress, and some jobs that can be considered dimensional as the skills do not transfer over to the civilian world. Make sure to have a conversation with your school counselor who can better fill you in on what you need to do if the military is something you are interested in. 

What can I do RIGHT NOW to prepare for life after high school?

I am going to be referring to resources mentioned in Mr. Willis’ Live sessions on March 15 during our post-secondary planning Lunch and Learn. Please visit the School Yard or Parent Support page to view this video 🙂

My favorite resource he mentioned to help with college or career readiness planning was the Roadtrip Nation website.  This resource appealed to me because I am busy and I am visual. In a matter of minutes you have TONS of information at your fingertips about careers you are interested in including what education is needed for this job, what the day to day life of someone working in this job is like, and the experience of people who are current leaders in that industry. NOTE: You need to have a College Board account in order to access this site. You can sign up for College bBoard by visiting and signing up for an account. 

Other ideas and tips Mr. Willis mentioned were thinking about participating in internship or externship for school credit, taking a GAP Year, utilizing GA Futures, and participating in MOWR courses. Read below to find out more information on each of these wonderful opportunities.

  • Internships/Externships– Internships and externships are ways you can gain experience in a work field that interests you while also earning school credit. Currently, GACHS is looking into ways to better integrate internships and externships into our curriculum to help better serve all of you- our wonderful students 🙂
  • Gap Year– A gap year is something that is appealing for many graduates. It is a year “off” in between high school and college or work life. Gap years provide those who participate in them opportunities to learn a skill or trade through organizations like Job Corps or the opportunity to travel and volunteer in various countries through organizations like PeaceCorps or Americorps. For more information on what a Gap year is and how you can take advantage of a gap year visit
  •  GA Futures– GA futures is your resource for all things post-secondary in the state of Georgia. This website is where you go to apply for MOWR courses and where you will go to apply for state aid scholarships such as the Hope Scholarship
  • MOWR Courses– MOWR (Move on When Ready) Courses are one of my favorite opportunities for high school students. MOWR refers to allowing high school students to move on to take college courses. If you are interested in taking college courses where you will earn BOTH high school and college credit, talk to your counselor to find out what you need to do 🙂

Final Remarks

No matter what your plans are for life after high school in order to be successful you must prepare! The first step in being adequately prepared involves talking to your counselor. Your school counselor is not only an awesome listener when you are stressed but your counselor can provide you with resources AND schedule you in classes to help prepare you for your future. Please reach out to your counselor with ANY questions you may have about your future aspirations 🙂


Featured Photo-



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