It’s never too early to start planning for your future, whether you’re a wide-eyed freshman or a sophisticated senior. The closer you get to graduation day, though, the more you’ll feel pressured to decide what you’re going to do next. This handy checklist will help you with your future planning, which will vary depending on whether you choose the college or vocational path.

Determine Your Path

One of the most important decisions you’ll make in high school is whether you’ll go on to college or a career. Not every job requires a college degree, and, in some cases, you may be better off getting on-the-job training or attending a trade school. Below are some things you’ll need to do regardless of the path you choose.

  • Develop a system that works for you. It will help you feel less overwhelmed.
  • Set goals for yourself throughout each semester. These goals should be around grades, but attendance and teacher-student relationships as well. Future employers often ask for references, and your teachers or counselors could put in a good word for you. 
  • Check your graduation progress screen to make sure you are taking the classes you need to graduate, and that they are relevant to your post-secondary plans.
  • Schedule a meeting with your counselor so they can help you with this.
  • Work on Required Career Portfolio activities to begin narrowing your post-graduation plan.
  • Look for opportunities to volunteer or join community groups. Not only is this great for building your job skills and resume, but it is also a great way to meet new people and see what types of jobs are in your community.
  • Clean up your social media accounts. Colleges and employers will search your name, and you’ll want to have a clean online presence.

For the Future College Student

Whether you’re attending trade school or a four-year degree program after graduation, it’s important to research exactly what your school of choice will be looking for while reviewing your application. These steps will help you get accepted.

  • Be aware of college admission requirements and the courses you need to qualify for your preferred program.
  • If you’re attending a two- or four-year college, create a schedule of admissions and financial aid deadlines.
  • Research sources for scholarships. Two great sites to add to your list are and the Minnesota Career Information System.
  • Most four-year colleges require students to take either the ACT or the SAT. If you need to take the ACT, register here for the next test date.
  • Most two-year colleges require students to take an admittance exam, typically Accuplacer. Contact your target college to determine its requirements.
  • Look for financial aid information. Specifically search for special state, federal and local programs for which you may be able to get aid. You can fill out the FAFSA anytime after October 1st. The sooner the better.
  • Visit college campuses and meet with the college representatives. Take online virtual tours of schools not in your area.
  • Apply to the colleges you are interested in and find out what forms they require for admissions and financial aid.
  • Request that your high school transcripts are sent to the appropriate admissions offices. 

For Those on the Vocational Path

Even if college isn’t in your immediate future, you still have plenty of work to do. It’s important to identify likely job options and start working to build the resume you’ll need to qualify for them. If you plan to go into the military, meet with recruiters as soon as possible to determine what they’ll need from you.

  • Develop a career portfolio that should include your resume, job application information, and contact information for your references. You will work on this through the assignments in the Required Career Portfolio.
  • Learn about potential career options and research the market in your area.
  • If you currently have a job and you want to continue working there after graduation, learn about opportunities for advancement there.
  • Consider an apprentice program that will allow you to get the experience you need.

BlueSky offers all the tools you need to make sure you’re on the right path. Using the Required Career Portfolio, you can make sure you’re taking all the classes necessary to qualify for the career or school you want to attend after high school graduation. It may help to use tools like Google Drive to organize your research. If you need assistance, your BlueSky counselor is always available for a one-on-one consultation. Once you’ve reviewed this spreadsheet and your Required Career Portfolio, get in touch with your counselor with any questions you have.  Questions about BlueSky? Contact us and we’re happy to help!