“What are you going to do after you graduate from high school?”

For many teens and their parents, answering this question can feel overwhelming. Thankfully deciding on life after high school graduation is a process, not an event. With early planning, determining what comes next—and experiencing the journey toward it—can and should be fun and rewarding.

How to Identify and Explore Your Passions


While your interests, talents, and skills may change, your passion—a purpose to which you are devoted—is something that remains with you throughout your life. Matching your passion to your class load or career choices can result in fulfilling opportunities to succeed and help you avoid workplace burnout or feeling disconnected from the subject matter.

With help from family members, counselors, mentors, and role models, you can begin to determine what excites and inspires you to fulfill your purpose. Ask yourself or have conversations with the people in your life around:

  • Consider what interests in your life spark wonder and curiosity for you.
  • What is something you cannot help thinking about, doing, or discussing all of the time?
  • What problem or issue spurs you to investigate answers and solutions?
  • What activity or interest makes you happy while allowing you to exercise your natural gifts and talents?

Planning Ahead

A simple timeline of how to make the most of your journey looks like this:

Middle School – Explore your interests.

Start having conversations with family, teachers, guidance counselors and mentors on determining what your passions are and how to turn your passions into a career. Learn more about what classes and activities to complete in high school to support that pursuit.

Freshman Year of High School – Keep exploring and start thinking big-picture.

Speak with your guidance counselor to better understand your post-high school options, establish a financial plan (think: scholarships, financial aid, etc.), get enrolled in the appropriate classes, and join teams, clubs, and associations that interest you.

Sophomore Year of High School – Research possibilities.

Begin researching options for colleges and trade schools that support your career path and goals. Maintain a file of admission requirements such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any awards you’ve received. Start preparing for the SAT/ACT.

Junior Year of High School – Begin making your post-graduation plan.

Continue to learn and grow both inside and outside of the classroom and consider taking the PSAT/PreACT to practice for what’s ahead. Start visiting colleges to take tours and get acclimated to college life. Research financial aid, grants, and scholarship opportunities. Begin working on your application essays.

Senior Year of High School – Finalize your plans for what’s next.

Complete and file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the deadline. Complete and submit your post-secondary school applications. Register for and take your SAT/ACT and apply for scholarships. Decide what school you will attend.

Mapping Interests to Possible Careers at Boys & Girls Clubs

At Boys & Girls Clubs today, kids and teens discover their passions through myriad experiences and activities, from workforce readiness programming to in-Club workshops and events to the recent partnership of the Club with SJ Aspires.

Regardless of their field of interest, all kids can benefit from activities and experiences that support building essential skills. These transferable skills go across industries and jobs to support young people in being qualified college and job candidates, as well as strong students:

  • self-motivation
  • confidence
  • problem solving
  • critical thinking
  • knowledge integration
  • resilience
  • leadership
  • collaboration