Get the conversation started now.
You're not even in high school yet, but it's time to think and talk about what you want to do when you graduate.
The adults in your life—family, teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors—are there to help you channel your ideas and interests into personal goals. Get comfortable with these types of conversations, because you're going to have a lot of them in the next five years!
- Talk to an adult about what you like to do, what you’re good at and what you want for your future.
- Ask questions. Ask for advice. Listen.
- If someone gives you something to read, then read it!
- Check out this Next Steps guide: Talking to Your Counselor – Questions to Consider in 8th Grade.
- Ask your counselor what programs your local high school is known for. What does the school do better than any other? For instance, it may have an award-winning welding program or marching band.
Do something new.
If you haven't yet, get involved in an extracurricular activity or hobby. Part of being a well-rounded student (and person) is participating in activities that teach you new skills and challenge you to work hard, while doing something that you enjoy or have a passion for.
Whether your thing is sports, cars, art, 4-H, robots, or just helping other people, there's probably a club or group you can join. Not sure what your thing is? Ask your school counselor or favorite teacher for advice.
- Take advantage of any opportunity to learn a new skill.
- Start thinking about activities you can do (or continue to do) next year in high school. Visit the Idaho High School Activities Association website.
- Talk to your school counselor about career and technical student organizations such as: Business Professionals of America (BPA), DECA, Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, or the Technology Student Association (TSA). These organizations give you a chance to develop skills and compete for awards at state and national levels.
Make your high school plan.
This year, you’ll make a plan for the courses you’ll take in high school. This plan gets approved by your parents and will help determine your path to graduation.
While you can always change the plan, making choices now with your future in mind could help guide you toward the career you're considering pursuing.
- Talk to your teachers or counselor about what coursework you should do to help you reach your goals and provide a range of future options.
- If you meet the state graduation requirements, and those from your local school district, your diploma will meet the minimum credits for admission to all Idaho public colleges and universities. Learn more about Idaho’s graduation requirements.
- Visit Idaho’s Career & Technical Education website to find which programs are available at your school. Some CTE programs take all four high school years to complete, so you’ll want to talk to your guidance counselor to make sure you get started in time.
Pay attention to your GPA.
Your grades between freshman and junior years will be one of the most important factors in college acceptance and scholarship money.
Now is the time to decide what type of high school student you want to be. Make an effort to practice good study habits and hone your test taking skills.
- To give you the best chance at being accepted to an Idaho institution, you’ll need at least a 2.25 GPA.
- If your GPA is low, you’ll need to score higher on entrance exams to get into college. Your best bet is to work hard at keeping your GPA up throughout high school.
- Learn how to develop good study habits and test taking skills.
- Get familiar with GPA – how it’s calculated and how you can improve yours.
Read all the books!
You've heard this your whole life. But it's more important than ever to keep reading—everything you can get your hands on.
Challenge yourself! Explore new topics and genres. Talk about what you're reading with your teachers and friends. Get recommendations from a librarian or online.
- Check out this “Popular 8th Grade Reading List” and see which books you’ve read.
- Keep a list of the next three books you plan to read. As you check books off your list, be sure and add new ones.
- Consider picking up a book about careers that may interest you. For example, if you’re considering a career in architecture, read about famous architects.
- Challenge yourself and read a book or two from the “Popular 9th Grade Reading List.”
Explore career paths.
This year, you might start to use the state’s Career Information System (CIS) in class, or with your counselor.
Idaho’s CIS allows you to track your educational goals, take assessment tests to help you figure out what kinds of jobs you might be good at, look further into career options and educational pathways, and help you plan for the financial needs that your choices may require.
- Learn more about CIS.
- Visit the “Getting Started” page on the Idaho Department of Labor’s Career Information System (CIS) for some tools you can use to start your career exploration.
- Share your username and password with your parents so they can explore with you.
- If your school doesn’t use CIS, there are lots of free tools available to help you on your journey. Check out BigFuture’s career exploration tools and info.
Understand your options.
You've got plenty of choices and time to explore post-high school opportunities. But the more you understand now, the easier it will be to make decisions (or at least have options) as you progress toward graduation.
Life after high school might mean going to a four-year college or enrolling in a technical training program. The options below outline different paths you can begin to consider.
- Apprenticeship – A registered apprenticeship would pair you up with an Idaho employer that would provide training in specific requirements of a job they need to fill. The major benefit? You earn a paycheck while learning new skills.
- Community college – Community college offers two-year associate degree programs and can help you get an affordable jump on a bachelor’s degree as well. These colleges usually have rolling admissions dates, so you don’t have to go right after high school.
- Four-year college – Colleges and universities generally offer bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctorate programs. If you’re thinking about going to college, now is a good time to start learning about what you might like to study, what you’ll need to know to get in, and how to finance your education.
- Military – There are four branches of the armed forces to consider joining. Each of them is tasked with different roles protecting our country. If you choose a military career, you’re certain to learn job skills that will help you in the workforce after you complete your service or you may choose to stay in military for your whole career. Based on your length of service and role, you may also qualify for grants to go to college once you complete your service.
- Technical college and training/certification programs – These types of programs usually last 1 to 2 years and provide training for a specific job field, and result in a generally recognized certification and/or an associate degree. Examples would be training for a job in nursing, robotics, diesel technology, or culinary arts.
For an overview of all of these options, visit the above linked pages from the Idaho Department of Labor.