While in high school, it is important to remember that the extent of your growth and learning is not limited to the classroom. Leadership has many definitions, and students tend to think that they must be the person with the title in front of his or her name in order to have influence. Being a leader does not always mean that you lead from the front. You can lead from the middle and the back, too.
What do I mean by this? We can be a leader in our families, to our best friend, or to a group of people. Many of you will not be the public figure or spokesperson of a club or organization. Some of you may end up being the quieter leader that builds up the motivation of others from within the group. We can all be leaders, regardless of being introverted or extroverted. All you need is a desire to see change occur. If you want to see your family relationships improve, be the example of that change. If you want your friends to stop participating in activities on the weekends that you don’t agree with, be the example of that change. If you want to see your community improve, build relationships with people of influence that will help you bring about that change.
If you have helped an individual or a group of people reach a goal by being inspirational, then you have displayed leadership. It’s that simple. Why do you think college admission officers review applicants holistically instead of reviewing students based on just intellectual ability? It’s because they see the importance of students with the drive to change their families, friends, and communities. They want communicators. They want to see students with a passion to make this world a better place. So, be the change that you want to see around you. Lift up your neighbor and seek opportunities to build your character.
Is pursuing a degree really worth all the money and effort? Many have started to question the value of pursuing a degree after high school due to rising cost of college tuition, the issue of underemployment post college graduation, and the fact that only 27% of people in the U.S. are working in a job that relates to their major.
Many career coaches will tell you that having the degree, regardless of your major, is essential. I would have to agree with them. The higher paying jobs will require at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Here is the caveat-according to a recent report by the Burning Glass and Strada Institute, 43% of recent college graduates are underemployed in their first job out of college. Two-thirds of those students are still underemployed after five years. After ten years, still over half of those remain underemployed!
The degree does matter because it shows you are a committed person and employers like to see this. Picking the right major is also important. Some majors have more return on investment than others, meaning more pay and less chance of being underemployed post graduation. For example, degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), which require specific skills on the job, will yield to a greater chance of not being underemployed after graduation. If you reference the chart by the Burning Glass and Strata Institute below, you will see that students coming out of these majors still experience the problem of underemployment. STEM majors are also not for everyone! If your heart is not in it, there are plenty of other majors that pave the way towards successful careers.
I know this can be a difficult process, so here is my advice. If you feel clueless on how to begin choosing the right path after high school, begin by taking a personality test. You can click the link below to get started. Understanding your personality type, interests, aptitudes, and values is essential. Your next step would be career exploration. Once you learn about yourself, you should explore targeted careers. Learn about the education, qualities, and experiences that you need to attain careers that you are interested in.
My last bit of advice is this- while you are in high school or college, get as much experience as possible. Job shadowing, internships, and summer enrichment programs are key. Regardless of your major, developing workplace skills while still pursuing your degree can increase your job prospects significantly. Employers understand that recent graduates will not have years of experience in that particular field. Seems pretty obvious, right? Having some experience is better than having none. Trust me! Pursue every opportunity you can so that when you step into your first interview, you can talk about what you learned during that internship or summer enrichment program. Crosby Scholars is always here to walk you through each step of the process.
The internet is booming with articles about how Gen-Zers will transform the workforce. This will happen as they bring their technology talents and desires for financial security to their workplace. Blair Decembrele’s article, “The Job-Hopping Generation: Young Professionals on the Move,” suggests that Gen-Zers are three times more likely to change jobs than people from other generations. Twenty percent of them that are already out of college are averaging four more jobs within the short amount of time they have been in the workforce. Compare this to baby boomers who averaged about two jobs in the past ten years.
Career pivoting can be a good idea. It suggests that young workers are hungry to learn and have access to new opportunities. So what does that mean for students who are still in high school? You may end up making a career pivot later on in life. But, why not have a clear idea of what career paths might suit you before deciding on a school or degree?
Knowing your personality type, aptitudes, values, and interests ahead of time could save you time and money. It may prevent you from declaring the wrong major or attending the wrong school. Some argue that personality type is the most important factor when choosing a career. In large part, it is. Personality type is something to take into serious consideration when choosing a career. Yet, you should also understand what your values, interests, and aptitudes are.
There are plenty of free personality inventories you can take online. After taking a personality test, you will have a better understanding of how you perceive the world. You will know whether you get your energy from being around people or from being alone. Choose a career that fits your personality type! Steve Jobs once quoted, “ … the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” A lot goes into choosing the career that you will love, but knowing your personality type is a great way to start!
Are you a student who is thinking about going to college, but not sure when you should start planning, or what steps are involved in planning for college? If you said yes, to any of this, then you should keep reading. Early awareness can be the key to future success. When I was a senior in high school, I had no idea what types of colleges were out there, and especially what type of degree to pursue. I heard about this amazing university close to where I grew up in Winston-Salem, NC, so I applied to High Point University. I was lucky to end up at such a great school with having done minimal research. As a recent high school graduate, I did not realize that selecting the right major would be one of the most important decisions. I thought all majors had the same return on investment, so I basically just picked one. Data proves that some majors will lead you to more job opportunities post-graduation than others. So… what can you learn from this? Do your research.
It’s hard to know the type of degree/major you should pursue if you don’t know your career interests. You may be thinking, “ I’ll worry about my post- graduation plan during my senior year. Until then, I’m going to focus on my social life and enjoy being young.” It is important to have fun but you cannot wait to start thinking about your future plans. You are not too young to begin exploring your options! Begin discovering your interests, start developing skills, and begin researching schools and degree programs.
Ask yourself these questions: What are my
interests? What are my skills? What activities could I participate in if I
don’t already have interests or skills? What do I enjoy doing? Experience can give you a deeper sense
of self-awareness. Learning what you enjoy doing and what you DON’T enjoy doing
can help you narrow your focus. Self-awareness as it relates to interests and
aptitudes EARLY on in life can help you make a wiser career choice when the
time comes. Trying different hobbies can be a great place to start. This is actually
one of my New Year resolutions for 2020. Trying a new hobby can help you see
the world through a new lens. It can broaden your perspective and you will
learn something new!
Not only is it important to start discovering your interests and skills now, it is equally important to work hard in school. The grades you make freshman year will impact what types of opportunities you may or may not have available to you at the end of high school. What if you wake up one morning and realize your “dream school” is no longer a possibility because your GPA is too low? You cannot wait until your junior or senior year to start caring about your test scores and grades. By that time, it could be too late. Even if you don’t plan on going to a four year school and desire to pursue a certificate program or a two year degree at a community college, academic effort and experiences still count for you. Having a strong work ethic can help you succeed in any career you choose. Work hard, play hard!
Trust me, you do not want to become the same clueless senior that I was. Don’t wait and be too late! Take ownership of your own future and start exploring your options.