“What are you doing after high school?” is a question often posed to our high school students, and the answer to that looms large in the minds of a lot of them the closer they get to graduation day. For students, this can be a stressful and challenging time. We remind students that while everyone’s college and career path will look a little different, there are a few things that are important for all of our high school students and families to keep in mind as the “future” gets closer every day!
#1: You don’t need to be perfect.
First, always do your best. Glorifying the Lord means doing the best we can with the gifts and time that we are given. But it’s okay to fail sometimes, even with the stress of the future looming over you. It’s how you respond that matters most.
For some, classes might be the place where you struggle. What is important to remember is that your transcript tells your academic story. Did you try your best all 4 years? Does it show a positive trajectory? Adversity is part of life. If your GPA is impacted by a rough patch in your life, your future is not ruined! GPA is just one indicator of your ability as a prospective college student. There is much more to your story! Lean into that as you tell your story to colleges, internships, or careers that you apply to.
Moreover, failure isn’t just okay — sometimes it is a helpful thing. Learn how to fail now. Failure is a natural part of life and we need to learn how to respond to failure now so that we can keep growing and changing. The longer you wait to learn to fail, the tougher it is to overcome. The patterns and attitudes that you develop during high school can impact the rest of your life. Learning to embrace challenges and the inevitable failure that comes with them can be one of the best things you can do during high school.
#2: You are what you value.
Our values direct our thoughts and behaviors and people experience us through our behaviors. Learn to live out and lean into your values. These values may inform your decisions about your future. This could mean that you decide to volunteer and give to your community through helping others. It could mean that you make scheduling choices to prioritize certain activities or classes over others.
Viewing all of these choices as a reflection of your core values is important when faced with the endless possibilities of what you could be doing during each of your four high school years.
#3: Follow your passion in picking a career.
For many young people, it can be tempting to choose a career path purely because of the financial outlook. Something else that is important to reflect on is who you are becoming and where your passion is. You have the rest of your life to work, you may as well enjoy it! You can be successful and fulfilled — you don’t have to choose one. Success is not just measured by income. You’ve probably heard the saying, “love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” While working a job you love is still work, it is fulfilling and energizing to do what we are created to do.
Above all, we are called to glorify the Lord with our lives. God created you with certain passions and interests. We can glorify Him best by doing what we love and living them out. We are also most likely to have the biggest impact in restoring His kingdom if we pursue those passions/interests in terms of vocation/calling.
#4: Choose your college; don’t let the college choose you.
For our students who choose to pursue higher education, the initial application and selection process is Too often, high school students enter the college planning process feeling overwhelmed, intimidated and timid. They are afraid to apply to a school that they worry won’t accept them. Flip the script and put yourself in the driver’s seat. No school deserves your attendance–they are a resource and opportunity for you to grow. If you are going to put time and money into an investment, make sure that it is the right fit for you! What college is going to help you grow in your faith and prepare you to be a professional in your field of study? What college can you call home for 4 years?
The counseling center at Denver Christian School offers students support and resources as they anticipate college and career goals. Our counselors encourage students to discover their strengths and explore their interests and passions, and help them navigate post-high school pathways and options.
Ben DeNooy serves as the High School and College & Career Counselor at Denver Christian School. He has been helping students navigate their college and career journeys since coming to Denver Christian in 2012.