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“Opportunities slip quietly by, but regret wakes you up screaming in the middle of the night.”
Regrets are that moment when you realize “I should have said this” of “should have done that.” Should have and could have are the defining words of regret. You missed an opportunity and now you can’t go back and fix it. For our purposes, it’s college and career choices.
For college, you realize you’re not at the right college for you. You don’t want to go to class, you miss assignments, your grades slip. You want to change your major, transfer or drop out. You believe you’ve made a bad choice.
For careers, it’s much the same thing. You don’t want to go to work, your performance drops, your promotion stalls. You want to switch careers, change jobs, quit.
How did it come to this? You didn’t find the right college or career for you based on your interest and abilities.
Planning for Your Career
Find what you want to do through:
· Personality tests. Find careers you’ll like. You probably have a hunch, but personality tests (which only 15% of high schools offer) can narrow your list.
· Skills Assessments. Find careers where you’re a natural by assessing the talents you already have.
· Career research. There are hundreds of jobs out there. Find out what education you need, your likely salary, whether the field is expecting job growth and more. You may have the skills for a career that interests you, but it doesn’t mean anything if nobody’s hiring.
Developing Your Career Plan
Now that you know what career truly interests you, you have to develop a plan to make it happen. This process should start as early as possible, preferably in the 8th or 9th grade.
· College prep classes. Choose high-school classes that align with your career interests, whether it be math, science, language, English, etc. This lets you take the prerequisites for the AP classes you’ll need to take come senior year.
· Extracurricular activities. Pick extracurricular activities linked to your likely career. These go on your college application, impress admissions officers, and show that you’re dedicated to your success.
· College research. Find colleges that are right for you academically and socially, but that also meet your career expectations. If they’re not respected in your major, with talented professors, professional networking opportunities, career placement facilities and the latest in technological advancements, it won’t help you.
· Affordable colleges. Know what colleges you can afford. Get financial aid estimates for any college on your list. It’s heartbreaking to get through the first three steps and then have to give up your dream because you can’t afford it. It also happens all the time.
College -- and college prep -- will keep you up late for a few years getting ready for classes, but it won’t be as bad as the years you’ll spend staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night wondering what went wrong. Taking advantage of opportunities tells regret to take a hike.
Make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to start college prep early!
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