School to Work: Preparing for what life will look like after high school?

Transitioning from school to adult life: It’s never too early to start planning.

As your teenage child, sibling or cousin enters their last year of their schooling, they start asking questions about life after high school.  You then feel compelled to tell them how wonderful (and probably frightening!) it can be.  What would you say (or not say) to these high schoolers that can help them start thinking about a life ahead that perhaps needs a bit of planning.

Encourage early planning – ask questions of “What do you want your life to look like after high school?”, “What would you do everyday?”, “Which areas interest you? Education/Training? Employment? Social activities?”, “If so, how would you go about it?” to motivate your young people in identifying their areas of interest and setting priorities (with steps) in executing their plans.

Dream high with practical skills – whether it’s college, jobs or domestic life, your young people should always believe that dreams do come true, with a bit (or a lot) of hard work, passion, persistence, responsibility and ongoing practical experiences. Find those little skills that help them to implement their interest, whether it’s volunteer work, playing sport, finding a summer jobs… they will need those small steps to build towards their big goals.

Set up “motivation” – adulthood is fun and fulfilling, yet it brings along independent accountability. Encourage your young people to practice self-discipline and self-reflection. Contribute to their family, circle or community. Start budgeting. Be responsible for their decisions. Admit mistakes and take feedback. Implement flexibility and changes. Take pride and joy in what they do. These traits assist them with continuous self-growth.

Draw on your support network – look around and reach out. Your young people will never succeed alone. Create a network of guidance, encouragement, support and assistance for them and encourage them to collaborate, build on this circle along their journey. Whether it is a role model or just a tap on the shoulder, they need to know they can always fall back before they expand their horizons and exceed their goals.

Embrace life – life comes with surprises every now and then. You can’t control it or change it. Yet you can embrace it, go with it and turn your life around it. Practice routine and discipline with patience, but always allow time to be fun and spontaneous. Life can be long or short, depending on how you live it.
What will life after high school look like is in your young people’s control.  They can create a future for themselves, and you will be there to respect their decisions, support their plan and appreciate their youthful contribution as they transition into adulthood.