After High School Options

  • There are many options after high school. Read on find out what they are and learn more about each option. Additional testing or certification may be required in order to enter a chosen career field. Students can find out more about specific careers and colleges using their SDMyLife account so that they can find the after high school plan that is right for them. SDMyLife has personality and career aptitude tests that help students find their strengths. Students can use what they learn about themselves and career options to choose high school classes and colleges/tech schools that meet their career goals. Students can also discuss their future plans with a representative (admissions counselor) from the school where they are interested in earning their degree/training/certificate to find out more about the school.

    Many professions offer different levels of education for the same career. For example, a person can become a nurse after graduating from a 1 year, 2 year or 4 year program. Nurses can also go to graduate school and earn a PhD. Each level of education prepares students to fill different jobs and has a different level of pay.  Usually, the higher the education level, the more responsibility, pay and benefits offered.

    A 4-Year College or University prepares students for professional careers. Students pursuing a careers as teachers, social workers, mathematicians, artists, psychologists, economist, public servants and some nurses and business professionals typically need 4 year degrees before entering the job market or pursuing more advanced degrees. Most schools provide housing and meal plans for students, offer and accepts funds to help accepted students pay for expenses (scholarships and financial aid), and have tutors and computers available to help students with assignments. Each school determines which programs (called majors) it offers, so it's important to research different schools to see what majors are offered. Check out the difference in programs offered at 3 affordable schools: University of Minnesota-Morris, Ft Lewis College, and Sinte Gleska. Some 4-year schools offer 2-year degrees. Here's an example.

    Two-Year Colleges train students with job ready skills to enter specific career positions in two years. These colleges offer degrees in automotive repair, medical lab technology, computer science, accounting, radiation therapy, powerline construction and mainteance, law enforcement, heating and cooling technology, and many more. Two-year colleges are just as tough as 4-year colleges, but with more hands on learning than in a 4-year school. Two-year schools usually do not offer meal plans and housing, but may provide apartments and have a food court. These institutions typically offer and accept funds to accepted students to help pay for college (scholarships and financial aid). The Build Dakota Scholarship pays most student expenses for select two-year programs. Check out two-year degree programs here, here, and here,

    Trade School or Certificate Programs are typically less than two years and are ideal for students who prefer hands on learning. These programs are offered at 4-year and 2-year schools and job training programs and train students to fill specific jobs such as a Licensed Practical Nures, construction worker, or customer service representative. Financial aid, like the Pell Grant and most scholarships, are not offered for these programs, but some scholarships may be available for students willing to do the research to find them. They are rare.

    Some students choose to Work after graduating. The job market is very competitive, so it is important for students to use their 4 years in high school to learn relevant job skills and connect with people in their desired career field. For example, students interested in construction should take construction and related classes, earn any certifications offered through their school's program, and meet with construction professionals at career fairs to start building an employment network. With so many options for additional education and training, students may find it difficult to get and stay employed or earn any benefits like healthcare or retirement. Check out the Career Pathways Guidebook for more tips.

    Military Service is ideal for students who want more structure in their lives. Military service demands excellent performance of the skills required and jobs assigned. Critical thinking, the ability to follow instructions and perseverance in the face of adversity are key to fulfilling military service expectations and requirements. In order to enlist in any branch of the military, students must take and pass the ASVAB test with a certain score. Each branch of the military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and Coast Guard - has it's own minimum score. Scores can change depending on enlistment needs.

    A GAP Year allows students to explore and complete a special project related to their career interest, volunteer, complete an internship, or travel in order to broaden their experiences and improve their academic or work resume. Students then select one of the above options to begin their education or training.