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Normalizing “nontraditional” post-high school routes


After high school, students go to college, graduate, and then get a good job. In today’s world, this sequence of events seems standard or almost even assumed. With the post-high school default option being college, this leaves many students overlooked and pigeonholed. A college education is not fit for every student, and with the wide array of options out there, it is valuable to explore them all.


Take a Gap Year

Gap years can provide a valuable opportunity for students to realign themselves as they discover what they actually want to pursue. Some students who are not mature enough or need time are facing burnout from high school and simply can’t make the most out of college at the time. There is no right way to have a gap year. From traveling to volunteering or working a job or internship, the possibilities are endless and can provide a meaningful experience for students as they try to discover what their best next step entails.


Attend Community College

As a substantially more affordable option, community college can ease students into college life or provide a flexible academic experience. Offering a range of core classes, those who complete two years at a community college leave with an associates degree that affords for more job opportunities. For students balancing other responsibilities, the academic flexibility of community college grants them options to earn their degree on their own time as they can complete classes closer to home. While a large portion of community college students commute to school, don’t be misled into thinking there’s a lack of community. Students can still find extracurricular activities and organizations with which they can get involved.



Enroll in Trade School

Not every career requires a college diploma. For technical skills such as cosmetology or information technology, you can attend a vocational school that focuses on a specialized skill. Averaging between eight months to two years, these shorter programs allow students to enter the workforce as specialists in their trade. For students who are sure of what they want to pursue and are eager to enter the workforce, trade school may be the right choice.


Find an Internship

If your goal is to stand out in the competitive job market, strengthen your university application, explore your professional interests, gain financial independence, help support your family, or just to earn some extra spending money, you should consider entering the workforce as an intern. You can complete an internship in tandem with your schooling, or during time off from school. This is a great way to gain hands-on experience in a particular field or a new location and guide you to make more informed decisions about your field of study and career path. You can also channel your inner-entrepreneur and create a job for yourself, start with a traditional first job like babysitting, or, if you’re ready to enter the workforce for the long-haul, consider applying for full-time employment.


FutureSelf Discover recognizes that every student’s path is different! After high school graduation, any one person may have a nonlinear journey including four-year college, community college, trade school, transitioning from one to another, or veering away from school entirely and enlisting in the military, trying out a gap year, or entering the workforce as an intern or a full-time employee. The possibilities are seemingly endless, and choosing which to explore is personal. We are here to help students discover the right path forward. 


1. Andre Hunter on Unsplash
2. Le Wagon on Unsplash


Blog by Sydney Harper & Ryan Weiss

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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