By Maureen Pollard,
Emotional Health Editor
Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a private practice in Cobourg, Ontario.
What to Do When You Don’t Know What You Want to Do:
Making Choices After High School
There can be a lot of pressure as you finish high school and look toward the future. When it comes to laying out money for tuition and books, it can be especially concerning if you’re just not sure what you want to do. It’s really common for people finishing high school to be uncertain about the future!
There are options to help you move into the future:
Choose a program with a general first year. Whatever subject you enjoy, look for a school that offers first year courses that aren’t too specialized. You can get used to being on campus and taking courses at this level, without narrowing your focus too much. As you study these general courses, you may find yourself drawn to a field of study and you can make the transition into the program of your choice.
Look at a variety of college programs. In several fields there are partnerships between colleges and universities that allow students to begin with a diploma program at a college and, once that’s complete, to move into a related university degree program with advanced standing. This route may offer a more affordable way to try course work in a field of study while still keeping your future options open. In the meantime, think about ways you can explore your interests to try to find an area that appeals to you.
Volunteer. Joining organizations as a volunteer is a great way to sample different roles in different areas you find attractive. Most volunteer positions are flexible, giving you the ability to manage your time and your attention in the ways that best suit your situation.
Take an entry level job. If you’re interested in a specific industry or area of work, try finding work that allows you to start at the ground floor in that field. This approach can give you the best chance of entering the workplace, as well as the chance to learn a lot about the field before you go too far in your studies.
Interview people working in the field. Contact people who do the kind of work you think might be interesting and ask for an hour of their time. Use that time wisely by preparing questions ahead of time to focus on what you want to learn about their experience and insights that may help you decide if it’s the right type of career for you to pursue.
Remember that you don’t have to know exactly what your future will look like! Check in with yourself as you explore career options. Think about what type of work you enjoy, what subjects capture your imagination and which ones hold your attention. Search for jobs that have these factors in common and you’ll be most likely to choose a path you’ll find satisfying as you move into post-secondary education and beyond.