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When you think about your future, what do you see? Do you see yourself graduating from high school? Do you see yourself going to college, and is it a large school or small school? Are you staying close to home or moving away? Do you think about your career and what you would like to do with your time when you are older?
While you may not see all aspects of your future clearly, it is important that you do have a vision for the future. Even now, while you are still in high school, it helps to think ahead to what you want to be doing five years from now, or even ten years from now. Having a vision for where you want life to take you will help you to achieve your future goals.
You may be thinking, “I don’t know what I want to do!” That’s okay. When I was your age, I didn’t exactly know where I wanted to go to college or what I wanted to do as an adult. However, I did have a framework for my future. I knew that I wanted to continue going to school after graduation, and I had an idea about some basic interests—things I might like to do. This helped to guide me as I made decisions in high school and as I entered college. You will experience more success as you transition from high school to college and career if you have a vision and framework for where you are going.
A first step in establishing a vision for your future is deciding if your vision includes college. Remember, that there are many different colleges and many different programs for furthering your education. College does not look the same for everyone. So, before you decide that college is not for you, consider the options. There are four-year colleges, two-year programs, technical schools, and trade schools. There are even ways to earn certificates in a field by engaging in an apprenticeship while you work. Take some time to consider how attending college, even for a short time, can change your ability to earn more throughout your life.
Next, consider your interests. Even if you don’t know what you might like to study or in which field you would like to work, you probably do have some idea of what you like to do and don’t like to do. Do you like to work with people, or do you prefer to work alone? Do you like animals, computers, drawing? It helps to spend some time looking at information on different types of careers. The US Department of Labor has a list of hundreds of occupations, sorted by broad areas. They also include information on typical salaries, outlook for the field, and what type of education you need to enter that profession. Exploring your options for careers will help you to establish a vision of what you might like to do after graduation.
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do to ensure success in your future is to understand how your vision for the future is affected by the things you are doing now. If you have a vision for attending college, you need to consider how your coursework and activities in high school affect that vision. If you have a vision of attending a specific college or university, then you should understand their requirements for admission and ensure that you will be have met those requirements when you apply. For example, do you need to take advanced coursework in high school to compete for admission to your chosen college? If you are interested in a specific field, are there courses at the high school level that you need to take to begin learning about the field? Finally, many colleges and universities consider extracurricular activities when making admissions decisions. Are you involved in activities or volunteer work outside of the classroom? Are you keeping track of these activities so that you will remember them when applying for college? Are you talking to your counselor or mentor when you have questions about your plans for college and career? The US Department of Education has put together a checklist of actions that you and your parents can take now that will help you to prepare for a future that includes college. As you establish your vision for the future, consider how your actions now will affect that vision.
Again, while you may not have a clear picture of where your life will take you, you can begin to build a framework to ready yourself for wherever the road leads. For example, no matter where you go to college or engage in training for a career, it is likely to cost money. Understanding your options for obtaining financial aid would be beneficial. The coursework you are taking now, and the activities you choose to do now, can be used for a college application, no matter where you choose to go. These are pieces of a framework for your future that can be built even when you are not sure of all of the details.
So, I ask you again. When you think about your future, what do you see? Hopefully, you are building a framework—thinking about your interests, considering your options for college and career, and making decisions today that will help you in the long run. The vision and the framework will set you up for success in the future.
Points to Ponder:
- INTENDED AUDIENCE: GRADE 9-12
- FLESH-KINCAID GRADE LEVEL: 8
Why does the author think that establishing a vision for your future is important? (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1–Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.)
Choose two suggestions for establishing a vision and framework for success that this article mentions and relate them to your own life. Give examples of how you have established a vision and framework. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2–Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.)
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). Occupational outlook handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Federal Student Aid. (July 2016). College preparation checklist. US Department of Education. Available at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/college-prep-checklist.pdf
Federal Student Aid. (n.d.). Prepare for college. US Department of Education. Retrieved from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college