“What should I do after I graduate?” 6 ideas for starting a fun and fulfilling post-high school life in Florida.

what should i do after graduation
On many of our high school senior photo sessions, I like to ask the pre-graduates what their plans are post-graduation. The answers range from assurity to indecisivity. Some students know exactly where they plan on going after the caps and gowns are off but, by my own experience, many of them will change their paths as they go through their college years. I hope this list may give you some ideas and help when deciding your path after high school.

Make friends and have fun—it’ll help you later on.
Making friends, socializing, attending sport’s games… parties… it’s all part of the college experience for many. It’s also a building block for having a personally successful future in whatever you will do in life. You will most likely meet your future co-workers and colleagues on campus and upperclassmen and professors may become mentors. I can’t tell you how important past professors back at the University of Central Florida have been in helping guide me, endorse me, and introduce me to people who have shaped my career.

Intern Intern Intern!
Did I mention intern? While tests and grades are important to get you through college, the plan is to do do something with that degree afterward. Being in college is a great way to get your foot in the doors of companies you’ve always dreamed working with. Most companies will only take students for internships, so it’s a great way to learn, network, and possibly get a job after you graduate. Shoot for the top in terms of the companies you want to work with but also look around at ones that show potential. It’s all part of the path of learning what you want in your life.

Attend a community college for your general education (Gen Ed) courses.
I’ve always felt community colleges get a bad rap by most. I may be a little biased because I went to one, but there’s so many pros that you may like the idea, too. I was lucky to have the Florida Bright Futures scholarship but that didn’t cover things like living/housing expenses, food, and the countless other things that living at home can help with. You may even get a jumpstart by dual-enrolling while you’re still in high school.

There’s so many great community colleges around the area now like Central Florida College in Ocala (my alma mater), Valencia College and Seminole State College in Orlando, Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, and Brevard Community College and Daytona Beach Community College on the east coast. With your associate’s degree from these schools, you can transfer into most state college’s with your general education courses finished so you can go straight for your major’s courses while paying much less to have done so.

Don’t rush into graduate degree if you’re not ready.
There’s a lot of great reasons to get a graduate degree after you’ve earned your bachelor’s but unless you have a specific reason to continue on with your education (like becoming a lawyer or doctor), you may want to consider getting out into the working world before heading back into another program. I don’t necessarily agree with everything said in it, but there’s an interesting article by Penelope Trunk about graduate degrees postponing the entry into the working world. It’s something to consider along with all of the pros of having an advanced degree.

Don’t wait for it—go and get it! (A tip for the introverts)
One of the things I love talking about during our sessions are people’s hobbies and the different activities they participate in at school. If you decide to attend college, your chances to join different clubs, try different sports or activities, and excel in something you already know and love increases ten fold. If you’re not naturally gifted at networking or socializing, this is the best way to get out there and meet people without a lot of pressure. The only caveat is that you’ve gotta go out there and do it and not wait for it to come to you.

Take some time to explore.
Many American high-schoolers’ dreams are to backpack across Europe or some foreign country after graduating. If you have that opportunity—take it. There’s so many awesome programs out there to see the world. In fact, my cousin just came back from two places the past two years: working at Mammoth Springs in Yellowstone National Park and then going across the world to work in Melbourne, Australia! There’s so many great opportunities that won’t necessarily put you in debt that allow you an alternative to your college education.

I’ll leave you with Joseph Campbell’s quote, “Follow your bliss.” It’s become almost cliché, but it’s a great reminder to make the most of your life and live your own dream, not someone elses.

What should you do after graduation? Central Florida Photographers Foxtale Photography

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