The Next Chapter

by Trent Miles

For some students, pursuing a non-traditional path after graduating high school brings clarity, experience, and unique job opportunities.

Do you know what you want to do after you graduate from high school? After all, there is no rule that says you must attend college three months after graduation from high school.

A non-traditional post-graduation path can provide you with a greater sense of what you plan to do with your life. Many college acceptances can be deferred for a year, which means that you won’t have to resume from scratch when you return. If you’re still not sure, or don’t know what you would do with a year off, try any of these alternative post-graduation options.

  1. Learn a trade. College isn’t the only choice for continuing your studies. Trade and technical schools provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn a lucrative trade at a fraction of the cost and with far less time. You will receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of your program be able to start a career in your desired field. There are dozens of fields to choose from: graphic design, carpentry, cosmetology, surgical technology, plumbing, massage therapy, dental hygiene, and much more. On the other hand, universities generally offer programs that result in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. These take longer to complete (4+ years).
  2. Join the military. During your years of service, you will accumulate useful experience and join the workforce with a slew of real-world successes. Serving in the military is likely to help you improve your leadership and teamwork skills, provide you with a structured, disciplined way of doing things, and build your character. Joining the military is, of course, a significant commitment—you’ll serve for a minimum of five or eight years, depending on which division you select. The military also provides university education.
  3. Save and invest your money. College is an expensive endeavor. Aside from day-to-day living expenses, students also find themselves paying off loans for years. Instead of going straight to school, the option of working for a year to save up for this expensive venture is always available. Consider attending part time and choosing a public, in-state school to reduce the amount of student loans needed— because most will still need student loans regardless.
  4. Do volunteer work. Finding time after high school to devote yourself to a cause is worth considering. You will be surrounded by experts in the area, giving you experience and focus as you contemplate your future. Do you want to help at-risk youth? Do you want to see more citizens receive free healthcare, or work on a local basis to protect the environment? AmeriCorps is prime example of where you can do this kind of work. They are a voluntary civil society program supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations, and other donors that engage adults in public service work with a goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.”
  5. Travel internationally. Graduation signifies the conclusion of classwork, tests, professors, and extracurricular activities. It might be a good opportunity in your life to see the world you’ve spent so much time learning about in textbooks. By joining the Peace Corps, you do just this. They promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals: (1) To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, (2) To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served, and (3) To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

About Trent Miles

Trent Miles is a senior at Richwoods High School and has been working for Big Picture Initiative since May 2020. He is academically competitive and a well-rounded student. Trent is the founder of his school’s Climate Action Club, Vice President of the Minority Academic Advancement Project, and a contributing Op-Ed writer for The Shield (school newspaper). Outside of school, he is heavily involved in Jack and Jill of America, where he currently serves as the Chapter Legislative Chair. Trent is also a writing intern for the New York-based platform LORYN, where he manages the featured artist page, interviews artists, finds talent, and more. He has earned several writing and Presidential Community Service awards. Trent contributed more than 1,000 hours of community service through various service projects, including a winter wear drive, collecting toiletries, and helping at the Neighborhood House in Peoria, Illinois.

About Adrien Vozenilek

Adrien Vozenilek is a senior at Peoria Notre Dame High School. Currently, their focus is portraying family history and their Italian heritage through 2D works centered around heirlooms. Adrien will be a freshman at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and plans to become an art therapist for LGBTQ+ youth.