8th Grade: Get ready for the big time.
This year you will begin thinking about your plans for high school and life after graduation. Take a deeper look into what the next five years and beyond might look like.
Start the conversation.
Focus on you.
It's time to start thinking and talking 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 interest 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.
- Consider your interests. Check out related books or academic publications. Read!
- Check out this Next Steps guide: Talking to Your Counselor – Questions to Ask Your Middle School Counselor.
- 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 for ideas.
- Talk to your school counselor about career and technical student organizations. These organizations give you a chance to develop skills and compete for awards at state and national levels.
- Look for volunteer opportunities in your area and sign up for one that might help you explore a career or job function that interests you.
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(s) you see yourself pursuing.
- Use the Next Steps 8th Grade Learning Plan activities to start thinking about your goals and what you’ll need to do to achieve them.
- 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.
- Learn more about career training you can start in high school. Many Idaho schools offer classes that can lead to professional certifications before graduation and jump-start your career. Some 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.
- Consider whether internships or apprenticeships might aid your career plans. There are opportunities in many different industries to learn valuable skills while earning a paycheck and sometimes college credits.
Pay attention to your GPA.
Your grades between freshman and junior years will be an important factor in college acceptance, scholarship opportunities, or landing your first job after graduation.
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.
- Learn how to develop good study habits and test-taking skills.
- Get familiar with the grade point average (GPA) metric – how it’s calculated and how you can improve yours.
- Find out how your GPA can affect which type of college you might be able to get into.
- 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.
This year, you might start using the Next Steps Idaho college and career readiness resources in class or with a counselor during your advisory period. If not, explore these resources on your own.
Use the tools on Next Steps Idaho to consider your options. Use the interactive activities to figure out what kinds of jobs you might be like and could be good at. Research specific career options and learn about the education you might need to pursue the job you want. Make a plan to track progress on (and regularly evaluate) your goals. Once you’ve chosen a few potential careers, identify the financial needs those choices may require.
- Get started on your 8th Grade Learning Plan Activities.
- Take an interest or values quiz to better understand how your talents might translate into a rewarding career.
- Explore career clusters (subject areas) that fit your interests and learn about specific careers in related fields.
- Use “Plan Smart” to figure out what kind of lifestyle you want, and how much it might cost
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 or figuring out a way to continue your education while you work
- Learn more about apprenticeships. Consider the benefits of going to community college.
- Figure out if the career you want requires an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree and start to look at what Idaho’s institutions have to offer.
- Look into Idaho’s technical programs. (once referred to as trade programs), many of which can be started in high school and continued at the college level or lead to professional certification.
- Research career opportunities in the military, where you can serve, get career training and earn money to help pay for college
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 Goodreads’ “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 “9th Grade Reading List.”
Explore Career Clusters
What’s in Store
You’re just getting started on planning your future. Each year you get closer to graduation, you’ll learn more about your education and career options. Planning all along the way will help you achieve your goals.