By Lisa Doss

High school is a place of possibilities. Students will discover new talents, ways to improve educational success, multiply friendships, assert leadership and learn from numerous mistakes. It may appear that decisions regarding the future can wait; it is, in fact, a few years away. However, opportunities to earn college credit begin as early as the sophomore year. Since those four years pass quickly, students need to take responsibility for their education by finding out not only what is needed to graduate, but the expectations of universities, colleges or technical schools, the military, or the work force. Perhaps this list can encourage students to consider their educational goals today, and in the upcoming future.

Class Scheduling Basics
While a guidance counselor will guide students to make good decisions, it is a good practice for students to become familiar with their own graduation expectations. In addition, teens can choose interesting electives and earn college credit through Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

Assignments and Tasks Have a Purpose
There are moments when teens may ask, “Why am I doing this?” Just remember every novel or history chapter, math problem or lab, team project or long-term assignment has a purpose, especially beyond high school. In school, you are learning how to read for comprehension, record various ideas in a written format, figure out complex problems and solutions, work with partners and groups, give presentations and communicate with peers. The skills learned today will assist students at the next level of their lives and beyond.

Balancing Life as a Student
Academic pressure and expectations for success can overwhelm students. While it may be difficult initially, creating a plan to manage classes and extracurricular activities with ample time for family, friends, and yourself is vital. Keeping stress levels down will increase confidence and overall happiness.

~ Create a studying schedule and stick to the plan. Relax and socialize with family and friends on Friday evenings and Saturdays.
~ Keep asking questions!
~ Studying isn’t about memorization. Rereading notes and chapters, correcting quizzes and tests are great practices for retaining and learning the information.
~ Assess your list of responsibilities. One more group, organization, or club may consume too much of your “free” time. Before saying “Yes!” find out exactly what is required of you.

Broaden Your Resume
A well-rounded education includes community service, church involvement and extracurricular activities. Beyond the classroom, teens can expand personal values, understand teamwork and learn how to communicate with adults, mentors and peers. Outside experiences will reveal students as more than just one-dimensional on resumes or to college admission boards.

~ Teens who have difficulty knowing where to “go” only need to look within their hearts and ask the question, “What do I care about most?” Being a volunteer can assist children, adults or elders, rescued or sick animals, the environment, or cities and communities.

Explore Career Options
Great resources are available online and within the community. Researching future options can help students focus on their goals and ensure they are on the right path.

~ Interested in attending a university, college, vocational or training school?
~ Become familiar with the expectations of an ACT or SAT test.
~ Make a list of the schools that interest you and attend college fairs.
~ Find out what the requirements for entrance are.

Joining the Armed Forces? Talk with relatives, neighbors and family friends who have served in the various branches of the military.

~ A bachelor’s degree prior to enlisting will assure rank, the opportunity to lead soldiers, and increase your earnings.

Seeking direct employment after high school?

~ Become knowledgeable about the vocational or technical programs available.
~ Seek counsel from relatives, family friends and your guidance counselor to direct you towards employment opportunities.
~ Consider enrolling in an undergraduate program part-time. Job satisfaction and a higher earning potential are just two of many benefits.

The doors of high school can be described as a gateway to unlimited possibilities. The extensive and diverse listing of classes has something for every interest and talent. Students may feel their education is directed only toward college; that is in part because post-high school education will offer greater opportunities and earning potential. There are rewards in asking questions and learning about the future. Graduation day will be here in a blink!

This article has been reposted with permission from Forsyth Family magazine