College, Career, and Business Planning

There's an incredible amount to decide about your future when you're still young. Should you go to college, and what major should you pick? What career do you want? Should you be an entrepreneur? It's normal to look for some guidance, but the decisions still end up being your own. So the question remains: What steps do you need to take to get on the right path for your future? First of all, you have to decide what you want your future to look like by planning out your college and career path. By considering all of your options, you may even find yourself pursuing something you never thought you could do.


College Planning

College is the first step on the path to a student's future, and it's best to start planning for success while still in high school. As a junior, it's best to check in with your school counselor about what classes you're choosing, what you want to see in your future, and how to get there. They'll be able to tell you what the next steps are. The right strategy may be choosing some electives that are relevant to your future or pushing yourself to take a harder math class. This is also the time to start considering and studying for standardized tests. By giving yourself a lot of time to take them, you'll have the ability to retake them in plenty of time for your college applications. You should also make sure to write down the things you're doing that colleges might like to know, such as volunteering, clubs, and any accomplishments inside or outside school.

As a senior, your biggest job is to decide which schools you would like to apply to and do your applications. You have to consider your grades, your classes, what you want to do, the location of the college, and the vibe you get from it. You're going to be there for four years, after all, so picking a school that meets your needs on paper isn't the only consideration.

There's still planning to be done when you've already started college, however. Picking a major and a school is a huge task, and you don't always get it right the first time. You should spend your first semester of college checking in on yourself, making sure that you're settling in the way you wanted, the classes are what you expect, and you're doing what you want to do. Change in college is inevitable, so don't be worried if your plans didn't pan out and you need to switch gears during your college career.


Career Planning

Even if you're still in high school, it's not too early to plan for your career. This is part of planning for college as well; if you know what you want to do, you can tailor your degree to get you there. The first step, whether you're in high school or college or recently graduated, is to look back at the classes you've taken and think of which ones you enjoyed the most and which ones you did the best in. Many times, your favorites are the ones you did well in, but that's not always true. Research careers where you do things that were part of your favorite class. For example, if you loved math, think about careers in computer programming or physics, and if you were really good in English, you might want to be a journalist.

Once you've decided what category of jobs you'd like to look at, other factors will come into play. Is the career you chose easy to get or very difficult? How much would you be paid? Is it a risky endeavor, such as starting your own business? These considerations can get you closer to a practical, reachable dream or help focus you on your path if you decide the risks and challenges are worth it for a more difficult goal.

If you are in college or have already graduated, you might also be able to pursue internships to help you on your career path. Being able to see what someone in your chosen career does on a daily basis can give you perspective; you may suddenly realize that's not what you want to do at all, or you may have renewed enthusiasm for that career.


Starting Your Own Business

Being an entrepreneur is a fun, fast-paced career to choose. If you enjoy building something from the ground up, have a great idea for a product, or have a marketable skill, building a company might be the way for you.

If you're a high school student, a startup could be as simple as selling a craft you've made. There are competitions and resources available to you that can help you practice the skills you need to build a company. In college, you begin to have the freedom to pursue a serious business plan, and seeking out funding and creating a company are not unattainable goals.

The first step to starting your own company is to find what you excel in and what you can sell. It not only should be interesting to you but interesting to others; if you're your only customer, your company will fold quickly! Once you've decided what your product or service is, you have to consider if you need employees, how much money you need to get started, and how you're going to get customers. The rewards of building the company from the ground up are many, but so are the potential challenges.


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