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Options after High School

Submitted by bbauerm on Tue, 02/05/2019 - 09:20

Post-Secondary Options for Seniors at PTHS:

David Christensen

There are many options for graduating high school seniors; everything from college to McDonald’s.  And the path you chose (or stumble into) initially is not “final.”  Your choice isn’t cast in stone.  This is particularly true nowadays.  It’s relatively easy to change your path tomorrow, next year or when you’re 50.  That’s all possible. 

The major options for high school graduates are college, vocational or trade schools, certificate programs, internships, The Job Corp, AmeriCorp and the US Military.  In each option you will find many choices for your focus.  All these options are “good” options and there is no “best” choice, just your best choice.

When you do go looking for a job, there is help!   Jefferson County’s WorkSource is part of WorkSource Washington State and offers advanced job-search tools to find career opportunities more easily.  Check out all of the following links: 

You may want to take a gap year – a year to do something different or to do nothing.  Do a Google on Gap Year.  You may find that after a year off, you begin to have a realistic idea of where you want to go from here. 

But consider your options carefully.   Making a considered decision at this point is really important. 


College offers an avenue into many fields.  There are so many things you can study in college.  Majors can be anything the college or university offer and they vary from school to school .  

Of course you have to be accepted by the college or university you chose.  Acceptance can be based on many things including high school grades, school and community achievements, athletic abilities and the ability to pay the tuition.  Scholarships are available based on the above and on need.  And of course there are student loans.

Some Potential College Majors:

Business Administration
Criminal Justice
Engineering – many choices
Information Systems – IT
Legal/Paralegal Professions
Liberal Arts and Sciences
Library Science
Music and Musical Education
Other Languages
Philosophy and/or Religious Studies
Social Sciences
Human Services
Visual and Performing Arts

And many others!

In the selection process you need to take into account what going to happen after graduation.  Namely:  

    • What your degree will allow you to do – what are the job possibilities
    • Will a degree in your chosen field require continuing to graduate school?  For example, medicine, dental and masters and PhD programs.
    • The amount, if any, of the student loan you’ll graduate with and how you will pay it back

Some college programs are responding to the need for “new blood” in the building arts.  

A perhaps unique example of this is The American College of the Building Arts, in Charleston, South Carolina.

They offer both AAA (Applied Associate Arts) which are two-year degrees and BA (Bachelor of Arts) four year degrees in all aspects of the building arts.  Cost for a full-time student is about $1,000.00/semester plus shop fees of $350. 00/semester.

Vocational Schools and Trade Schools:

Vocational schools, also popularly known as trade schools, are post-secondary schools.  Students usually enroll after graduating from high school or obtaining their GED.  These schools teach the skills necessary to help students acquire jobs in specific industries. They are usually 2 year programs which result in an AA (Associate Arts) or AAA (Applied Associate Arts) degree and include “general education” course requirements such as English and Math.  Some of the courses can transfer to a 4 year college.

Vocational/Trade schools and (certificate programs below) are job oriented majors which include:

Business including bookkeeping and some accounting
Design and media arts
Mechanical skills including auto mechanics

Specialized skills such as:
                     Electrician (as in house and commercial wiring)
                     Carpenter / Finish Carpenter
                     Boat repair

All aspects of woodworking including cabinet making
All aspects of agricultural
Medical Assistants
And most of the subjects in the Job Corp section later in this paper.

Certificate Programs:

Certificate programs are geared towards adult students and students looking for short-term training leading to immediate employment. These non-degree programs are offered in a wide variety of subjects, from trade occupations, like plumbing and air conditioning repair, to academic subjects, like

accounting, pharmacy, media production and communication.  They can last any length, but usually up to one year and do not include general education courses.

Certificate programs can be found through many schools and community colleges.  There are examples of the programs at  


You can find internships in virtually any field.  Internships can be independent of post-secondary education or part of the program at vocational schools or college.  They can be “part time” or “full time”

and are usually not paid positions.  Internships don’t offer degrees or certificates but do make significant entries on one’s résumé.  A common comment from professional panels on post-graduation employment is “We hire from interns.”

Usually you have to find your own internships.  That isn’t necessarily easy and can be pretty intimidating.  But through the process you will develop excellent networking skills which can serve you well for the rest of your life.  Seek assistance in finding internships from former teachers, friends and professionals you know.

Unfortunately, some internships offered take advantage of the interns.  If you feel this is happening to you, discuss it with a friend or former teacher.  It’s totally OK to terminate such an internship and find another that is more suitable.

Job Corp:

Job Corp is offered by the United States Government and offer career technical training in many career areas. Students receive housing, meals, basic health care, a living allowance, training, and preparation for a career, all at no cost.  Program length varies and students may remain enrolled for up to 2 years.  For up to 21 months after Job Corp graduation, a career transition counselor will help you make the transition from Job Corps into the real world.

Nationally, Job Corps offers over 100 different careers to choose from. 

They include:

Building Construction Technology
Cement Masonry
Certified Nurse Assistant
Clinical Medical Assistant
Collision Repair and Refinishing
Computer Technician
Construction Craft Laborer
Culinary Arts
Dental Assistant
Forestry Conservation and Firefighting
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
Heavy Construction Operations and Mechanic
Heavy Truck Driving
Hotel and Lodging
Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse
Heavy Truck Driving
Medical Administrative Assistant
Office Administration
Pharmacy Technician
Retail Sales
Security and Protective Services
Urban Forestry
Water/Wastewater Operations


AmeriCorps, National Civilian Community Corps  (NCCC) is a full-time, residential, team-based program for young adults, age 18-24.   Members develop leadership skills and strengthen communities by completing service projects and gaining life experience.

Within the  site, you can search for AmeriCorps NCCC offer opportunities by zip code, state, program, and interest. You can also check out National Service in your state to look for opportunities in locations you are interested in serving.

Focus Areas:

            Disaster Services

            Economic Opportunity


            Environmental Stewardship

            Healthy Futures

            Veterans and Military Families

Careers in the Military:

There are seven branches of the US military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and the Air National Guard.  All of the branches of the US military offer a wide variety of options to a new recruit, too many to list here.  To review the many options in each of the branches of the service, goto