High school doesn’t last forever. College or getting a job may seem like a far off future, but the truth is it is never too early to start thinking about what comes next.

Sometimes it seems like there is one, set path we are all supposed to follow. Society tells us that we are supposed to graduate from high school, go to college and then get a job. But what if this path isn’t for you? You don’t have to have your entire life planned by the time you graduate high school, however, you do need to have an idea of what direction you want to head in for your future.

Not everyone is in a situation where they are able to graduate from high school. For some people, life can get in the way of going to classes, completing assignments and maintaining a grade point average necessary for graduation. This is more common than we are led to believe, and not being able to graduate from college does not mean you are unable to get a good job, or eventually apply for higher education.

The first step in planning your future is understanding your options.

What if High School is not for me?

The best choice is ALWAYS to graduate from high school when possible. Even if this means you take an extra year of classes, or you attend an online virtual school in order to meet your credit requirements. However, getting your GED is always a good back up option.

A GED is the equivalent of a high school diploma. Just like in high school, you take classes in math, social studies, language arts, and science. However, GED programs tend to be online based and only takes a few months to complete, rather than the four years it takes to complete high school.

A GED still requires you to take tests and complete assignments, just like high school. However, anyone of any age can enroll in GED classes and sit for the GED exam.

If you are struggling with completing classes, and believe that graduation may be an unrealistic goal for you, talk to your GAL. Your GAL has knowledge of resources and programs that offer GED classes and can help you decide which options are best for you. You can research GED options on your own by going to the Florida Department of Education website in the link below.

What does planning for the future look like?


Our behaviors and decisions now impact our future. World History class may seem boring and pointless to you know, but the reality is a D in World History could be what keeps you from getting into your dream college. Realizing that you play an active role in your future is a key part of preparing for the next step!

You do NOT have to have your entire life planned out at graduation. The reality is you will most likely change your mind about what job you want in the years to come, however, you do need to know what kind of life you would like to live.

Do you want to live in a two-story home in a gated neighborhood? Or do you want a downtown apartment? Do you want to stay in your hometown, or leave and move to a new state? These questions are important to answer, as they need to be considered when looking into colleges and careers.

Time for some hard facts:

For the year 2017-2018 people with the following degrees made an average of X amount of money while working full time.

High school diploma: $23, 972
Associates degree: $34, 260
Vocational Training: $40,440
Bachelor’s degree: $52,100
Masters degree: $62,625

These numbers may not mean anything to you now but let’s practice breaking them down to see what the amount would look like weekly.

High School Diploma or GED
$23,972/yr divided by 12 months =$1,997 a month
(Paychecks are typically distributed twice a month)
$1,997 divided by 2= $998 every two weeks

Bachelor’s Degree
$52,100/yr divided by 12 months =$4,341 a month
$2,091 divided by 2= $2,170 every two weeks

That is a $1,182 increase in pay every two weeks!

(Keep in mind that these numbers are approximate estimates and that these practice scenarios do not account for taxes or other fees.)

$998 may be enough to live with a roommate in a two-bedroom apartment outside of town, however, it won’t be enough to afford a house and comfortably support children on your own.

The good news is that career and educational options never go away! What is best for you right now, may not fit with what you want for yourself in 10 years. While your immediate needs are the most important, with the right planning and hard work, your future can be exactly what you want it to be. You just have to be willing to put in the work and know what steps you will need to take.

So what are my options?

The following video outlines some job opportunities that do not require a college degree.

If you know you want to go to college but a 4 year University is too expensive, an Associate degree from a Community College may be for you!

How do I make this decision?

Interactive Learning Activity

My Future Road-Map

For the rest of this module, we are going to practice planning for your future. The plan you make today doesn’t have to be the plan you end up choosing, however, by going through the steps now you will have a better idea of how to plan on your own when the time comes.

First, we need to know where we are starting from.


Do you know your current status at school?

What grade level are you?

How many credits have you completed?

How many more do you need to graduate?


If you can answer these questions, great! If no not it is okay, but we need to find out.


It is important to know your educational status so that you can make informed decisions regarding your future. Your status of a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior is determined by credit hours completed. Each school year there is a set, required amount of credit hours you must complete to continue onto the next grade level. The catch is that you only receive a credit hour for classes if you PASS them. So the classes you fail, either due to poor grades or too many tardies/absences, do not count as credit hours.

It is typical for highschoolers to not know how many credit hours they have completed. The good news is it is very easy to find out! The best person to ask is your school’s guidance counselor, or if your school offers one, your advisor. Your guidance counselor will be able to answer your questions about current academic credit levels, as well as help you to be able to access your school records such as transcripts, health records and reports from any service providers through the school such as counselors or special education.


If you were unable to answer the questions at the start of this section, take a moment to make a plan to get in contact with your guidance counselor. Check your school website for their contact information, and send an email or set a time to go meet with them. If needed, your GAL can help you contact your guidance counselor or advisor!

Decision Time

How likely are you to graduate high school based off of your current educational status?

Very likely! I’m on track with credit hours and I am getting good grades in my classes.

Less likely! I’m behind a bit on credit hours due to my grades/attendance, however, with work I could catch up.

Not likely. I’m behind on credit hours due to my grades/attendance, and it is unlikely I will be able to catch up.

Not an option. Traditional high school is not an option for me, and I need to explore other options.

We mentioned early that while graduating high school is always the ideal first choice, there are other options! The most imporant thing is figuring out what works for you for you so that you are as sucessful in your education as possible!

Now you have your plan for graduation or, your plan to attend a GED program. What now?

Have you put any thought into a future career? Odds are either you already have a good idea of what jobs and careers interest you, or you have no idea where to even start looking. Lets take a moment to answer the age old quesiont of : What do I want to be when I grow up?

Take a moment and come up with your dream job. It doesnt matter how attainable or realistic it is, for this part of the activity it doesnt matter!

Now answer the following questions about your dream job. If you need help finding the answers, use the link below to help you research your dream job!

  1. Why is this job appealing? (Do you want this job because it is something you enjoy doing? Or becaue it pays well? What other reasons?) 
  2. Do you have any experiance with this job? (Have you learned about it in school? Do you have actual experiance through a part time job?) 
  3. How do you get to do this job? (Do you need to attend college or graduate school? Do you need a license or certification?) 
  4. What does this job pay? (Saying that a job will make you a lot of money means something different to eveyone. What is the actual average salary of this profession?)
  5. What would my life look like if I had this job? (Would you have to work nights? Would you have to travel?) 

Now that you’ve answered these questions, is this job still something that interests you? Do you learn anthing new about this job that you weren’t expecting?

If you answered these questions and you no longer think your dream job would be a good fit for you, try the process again until you come up with a job that sounds right for you!

If your dream job fits with the lifestyle you want for your future, keep using this job as we progress through the planning process!

The Plan

When you were researching your dream job, what did you find out about what you need to do to get the job?

Do you need to go to college?
Do you need an apprenticship?
Or can you start right now?

Let’s go back to earlier when we decided what the best option for graduating high school would be. No matter what you decided, how do you get from where you are now, to where you need to be in order to get your dream job?

If you need to go to a 2 year or 4 year university, what school’s offer the program? Use the link below to help you search!

So you don’t need to go to college, but you do need a formal training program. How do you find one?

The following website can help give information on apprenticships in plumbing, HVAC and electrical work.

Use the link bellow to help you reserach Hillsborough County Technical shcool Apprenticeships.

If you are interested in cosmetology, use the link below to help search schools and options!

If you don’t see your career in one of these links, google it! Adding key words like “Hillsborough County” and “apprenticeship” will help you to narrow your search.

The Money

At this point you should have some idea of your plan. You know what your dream job is, you know what the reqierments are to get the job, and you have a general idea of the amount of money you will get paid to do it. All that is left is to figure out how you are going to pay for the education or training that is reqired.

Money and funding resources are often intimidating and can be confusing. Understanding the different types of funding can make the process much simpler.

Depending on your case, you may qualify for state grants that can help pay for college or vocational traning. Talk with your GAL, your case manager and your ILS provider to learn about what options apply to you!

Life happens, and sometimes even the best made plans change.

The Future Roadmap you made today doesn’t have to be the plan you stick with. It is okay to change your mind, and odds are as you progress through the planning process you will!

It is hard to imagine planning out your life when you are in high school. The point of today’s module is not to make you think that you must have a 10 year plan made and ready to go today, but instead to help you gain skills needed to make that plan when you are read to.

Please take a moment to review the site and content materials so that we can better tailor them to you!