By Ashley Richter
Every year as fall approaches, middle and high school students anxiously plan the next steps towards their future. Many students begin to think about what life after high school will look like. A gap year of travel? Moving out on their own? Attending a college or university in another city, country, or continent? The possibilities are truly endless.
Choosing a path is hard enough when life is good; it is infinitely more difficult during a global pandemic. Suddenly, students are in uncharted territory, with seemingly few resources for mapping out their journey through the wilderness of the world.
How do you plan in a world where nothing is certain?
While it may seem like the world is overgrown with chaos and uncertainty, there are actions any student can take to find purpose, direction, and hope for life after high school.
Creating an idea map or “brainstorm” on paper can be a creative and low stakes way for a student to gain an overview of their goals. Brainstorming provides a visual representation of a student’s future dreams, goals, and plans, and how they all intertwine.
Activity: Try creating a brainstorm with the categories: School, Career, and Finance. Try seeing how these different areas of your life could connect. Note that this does not have to be perfect and is merely a draft of ideas, so feel free to get messy and experiment!
2. Talk to Friends and Family
Although each student’s life path is uniquely their own, they do not need to navigate the path solo. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can allow a student to speak organically about their future plans. Whether the conversation eases concern or fuels excitement, having a person who will listen with support will greatly impact a student’s outlook on their future. In addition to friends and family, a student could talk to a counselor or trusted teacher for more perspective on their situation.
Activity: Try talking to at least three different people about your ideas for the future. Remember: the more people you talk to, the more perspective you will gain, and the more informed your decisions will be!
3. Do the Research
Researching and getting informed is the most important thing a student can do when the world is filled with uncertainty. Having the proper information can help a student see the connection between their current life and the life they want for themselves. Research could mean looking up schools or careers that excite them, perusing student blogs, or using online resources that cater to helping students.
ChatterHigh, for instance, helps engage and inform students in topics that will help them prepare for the future. Through a gamified quiz that incentivizes research, students explore post-secondary education, career planning, financial literacy, workplace safety, mental health, and more. The ChatterHigh platform guides them through the best online resources to help them explore their interests and chart a path forward.
It is an uncertain time and much is changing every day. Thinking creatively, starting conversations, and staying informed are all crucial ways students can discover their purpose and find hope for whatever comes next.