How to Find Your Path After High School

a triptych of 3 young people in different professions

Deciding what to do after high school might feel confusing. The important thing to remember is that the right path looks different for everyone! Whether you want to explore colleges, apprenticeships, or careers, there are lots of resources available to help you navigate it all. 

ACT Interest Inventory 

The ACT Interest Inventory can help you discover potential college majors and careers that match your interests by asking you to rank your interests related to real-life scenarios. All it takes is 20 minutes and you’ll have a starting point (including helpful graphs and resources) in your after-high school search. So, what are you waiting for? Take your interest inventory now!   

Interview Adults 

Interview the adults in your life about their careers to learn about the pathways they have taken. Don’t be afraid to set up times to talk with your friends' parents, family friends, or other connections. Be professional and respectful of their time; if you say 15 minutes try to stick to the 15 minutes and set up an additional time if needed.  

Questions you can ask:  

  • What made you decide on your career? Were there any must-haves when searching for your career? 
  • What do you like most about your job? What do you like the least about your job? 
  • What kind of schooling did you need to get to where you are today? 
  • Would you choose this pathway again? 
  • Do you have any advice for me? 

Job Shadow 

One great way to discover your interests is to job shadow professionals in careers you’re considering. Summer break is a great time to fit this into your busy schedule. Set up a day well in advance and come prepared with questions, ready to take notes. It might surprise you at what you learn in just one day in the field. 

Meet With Your School Counselor  

One of the best resources available to you as a high school student is your school counselor. Set up regular meetings with them to learn more about your options. If your school offers a career center, you should take advantage of that opportunity as well. Your school counselor can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and guide your decisions. Be prepared to talk about your interests, your grades, and how you feel about what comes next. They can help you look for scholarships, schools, mentors, and also connect you with current college students.  

Find a Mentor 

Find a mentor or person you trust to help you figure out your next steps. Be open and honest about your feelings and be open-minded to their advice and feedback. 

Individuals who make great mentors: 

  • A connection with experience in the industry you're interested in. 
  • A teacher or coach. 
  • A current college student at your dream school. 
  • A professional at a company you want to work at. 
  • Your school’s career coach. 
  • College and career coaches. 

Tip: You might need more than one mentor to address all the aspects of your decision process. However, you are always in charge of your own decisions and might find that some advice contradicts each other. Everyone has a different perspective, and you should consider all their advice within the context of your own experiences and interests. 


One great way to learn more about your skills, talents, and abilities is to volunteer consistently. Take on new projects and see what experience and insight you can gain. There are lots of great volunteer opportunities in your local community or virtually. Look at local nonprofit charities, local events, neighborly interactions, or businesses. 

Extracurricular Activities 

Part of knowing what you want to do next comes with time and part of it comes with trying new things, which is why you should make extracurricular activities part of your high school years. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and remember, these years are for you to learn more about yourself and what comes next. Have you always wanted to join a school club or dance class or even learn to code? Now is your chance! Join clubs, sports, music, or anything else that will help you discover your interests and which pathway is right for you. 

Trust Yourself 

Don’t panic if you still aren't sure what you want to do after high school. Lots of people change majors, change careers, or take a gap year before deciding. You know yourself best. You don’t have to take the same path as your friends or family; instead research your options including college, trade school, jumping straight into a career, or other opportunities that interest you. 


Spending your high school years planning for what’s to come will help you feel more prepared and excited about your next steps. Get ready to discover your best options for life after high school with more ACT resources! 

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