Career Planning Checklist: High School

Main Content

Career Planning Checklist: High School

Use this time wisely to explore career opportunities and narrow down your choices.

Keep up on your school assignments.

Now is not the time to let your schoolwork get away from you. Stay on track with schoolwork and plan ahead for deadlines. Spend more time studying the subjects that are the hardest for you.

How you perform in high school lets colleges gauge what type of student you are and lets employers assess what type of employee you'll make. Plus, you will learn skills in school that will last you a lifetime.

A good work ethic in school represents a good work ethic in life.

Explore some of the more interesting courses that your high school offers.

Once you identify some career areas that interest you, take a look at your high school curriculum to see what classes may help in your career decision-making. Interested in journalism? Try a writing class. Interested in medicine? Sign up for an anatomy or biology class.

Taking a class can re-affirm your interest in the field and build on your skills. If you find that the class is not for you, you still have time to change course and explore different career paths. High school provides the perfect time to "sample" what's out there before you need to make a commitment.

Take classes now to help establish a direction for the future.

Think about what kind of job you would like to have some day.

Think about what you would like to do with your life after high school. Would you like to work in a busy office, or do you prefer the outdoors? Do you like being around lots of people, or are you more of a loner?

Complete our Career Cluster Activity to see what careers may best fit your personality and interests. Choosing a career that you like and you are good at will be a big part of your future happiness.

A good career choice "fits" your personality and interests.

Get experience.

Get an early start on career exploration by trying out an internship or job shadowing opportunity. Internships and job shadowing are great ways to get some "real world" experience in a field that interests you. These types of on-the-job training give you a small taste of what you may face day to day should you pursue full-time work in that field.

Plus, you'll have the opportunity to meet professionals who do what you hope to. Ask questions, find out the challenges they face, and learn from their experience.

Internships and job shadowing look terrific on a college or employment application.

Ask the employed adults you know what they like and dislike about their job.

Talk to some adults you know to find out if they are satisfied with their job.

Many factors go into job satisfaction—job location, daily stresses, colleagues. Prioritize the top five or 10 things you want from your professional life and choose a career that you genuinely like to do, not just something that will make you a lot of money.

The more informed you are, the more prepared you'll be when you start your career.

Talk to your parents about school and your future plans.

According to a recent study by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), less than 20% of students talk to their parents about their school day. After spending all day in the classroom, you may just be too tired to rehash it all again at home.

But parents have experience that you don't. They can help you look at a situation more clearly and provide support as you problem solve. And if your parents will play a role in your college choice or contribute money toward your education, keeping them involved in your thought process will allow them to prepare emotionally and economically.

Parents are a great sounding board for important decisions.