How to Launch into a Great Life After Graduation, 10-Step Checklist

article Nov 30, 2022

"What questions do your children have about choosing a path after high school?"

This is a question I have been asking students over the last couple of months when I hold my regular Career Discovery Workshop with the CAPS programs of Northeast Iowa.

Many of the answers I would get from these 17 and 18-year-olds didn't surprise me. 

  • How much does college cost?
  • When should I apply for college?
  • What do I need to know about jobs I am interested in?
  • Where do I search for careers?

 However, there were answers I did not expect to hear.

  • How do you stay motivated to work 9-5 jobs early in life?
  • What benefits do I get from the Army since my Dad passed away?
  • What is something that I should’ve done when I was younger to set myself up for success?
  • At what point is a career decision not worth the risk anymore?

I found that these students have had these questions in their heads but didn't know who to talk to about these questions or even if they could ask them.

Two key responses that stood out to me were, How do I separate what I want and what my family wants? and  WHERE DO I START?!

Determining what the child wants to be compared to what others want is another article I will need to write. It will get more into the actual and perceived pressures these students have on themselves as they are coming up through school and looking to move into the world beyond their family's home.

The students who asked where they should start weren't necessarily underclassmen, which can be expected at that age.  The question of where to begin the pathway is young people that can see spring graduation day on the horizon. This data, unfortunately, confirms that schools, parents, other influencers of students, and even the students themselves are not as prepared for life after graduation as they should be.

In my work, I have found that there is not one individual you can point a finger to blame for not knowing where to start. It is a collective of people that have given influence and guidance to the student as they move from childhood into their teenage years. Each of these people probably has meant well in helping the child in their school work, sports, music, social life, and more.  However, looking at pathways where these students are heading beyond their education can seem monumental.

The traditional linear method takes the child from birth to kindergarten.  Then through elementary, middle school, and into the high school experience.  Parents, teachers, counselors, and students know that most graduates go on to college.   The process is clear from high school to college.  It is easy to learn more about how to get into college, how to pay for it, and what colleges excite your interests and budgets. Even as clear as this process is for college, students still struggle to know where to start deciding what college they should attend.

But when a student is asked to choose a career, job, profession, or vocation, it isn't as clear how to get there as the college has become. 

If you are a member of Generation X like me or are a member of a generation before that, getting a college degree was a genuine lock to get a good job after you graduated college.  However, in today's world of fewer workers and more jobs that Bachelor's Degree is not as valuable as it used to be.

As a parent, I want my kids to have a college experience like their mother, and I did.  But do they want it or need it?


The first piece I have students work through in my process is identifying jobs that fit them and where they feel they want their life to be. I get challenged by many who question how I can expect these kids to know what job they want to have for the rest of their life.  I don't!

If you have come through 12 years of school and don't know your next step and why - that is what I am more concerned about.

Making that choice on what job or career path to follow is challenging.  There are about 150 million jobs in the country, and the titles and types of work in those roles change daily.  Who knows what kind of work is done in those 150 million jobs? No one can know all of them.  That is where the internet comes in.  At least one good use for the world wide web.

Shameless plug, check out my podcast "That's a Job?" it's on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts - learn about jobs you maybe didn't know about, but also jobs you know but don't know what the work is and how to follow that path.

You should know you are not alone in worrying about your child's decision about their path after graduation or lack of a plan.

When students graduate high school, the path isn’t always straightforward for them about what direction their lives will take them after being a student, which can cause concern about finding the right track. 

The pathway to a college education is the next step for 60% of high school students who will receive their diplomas, and 60% of those students move on to that next step in their life as they begin a career. However, about 30% of those young professionals will find a job with a career path they can enjoy and find engaging.

So how can your child be passionate and engaged in their work when they become adults? This is a question many parents and students think about as high school graduation approaches.

That question is why I created the Launch to Life Checklist to help guide that high school student on a Pathway to Purpose.

For generations, checklists have been used to get stuff done by people in many jobs. Working through a thought-out process has helped surgeons, engineers, and astronauts reduce mistakes and increase productivity in their work.

For the college-bound student, you can find different types of checklists to discover the best ways to choose a college, get accepted to that college, and how to pay for that school's tuition. It’s almost like you need a checklist for all of the checklists.

The Launch to Life Checklist shows students and their families key ways to succeed in college and beyond.

I am so passionate about helping launch students with confidence into their life beyond school because I have helped hundreds of high school students identify their Pathway to Purpose. A plan that can be rewarding for not only that young person but their family when they launch into a life they can enjoy and be engaged in the work they are wired to do.

The Launch to Life Checklist sets the stage for that student’s success after graduation.

✓ Be confident in knowing what kind of work fits your child.

✓ Identify why that job/ career/ profession/ vocation is right for them.

✓ Understand where your child can gain the education and training needed to get a job doing that kind of work.

✓ Know who they can connect with to learn more about that role.

✓ Learn how they can gain more exposure and experience in that profession.

✓ Create a timeline with goals and objectives for executing the items they need to meet.

Growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut and even went to Space Camp. There, I realized the schooling I would need to follow to reach that ambition was beyond my true ambition. I discovered through that experience that communication was at the core of my ambition.

From that point, I followed a Career Adventure in broadcasting, sales, marketing, economic development, education, and training. With these experiences, all rooted in the foundations of communication, problem-solving, and developing others, I found the work that truly fits my ambition.

I have gone from wanting to launch to space on board a rocket to helping families launch their students into college, career, and beyond.

Let the countdown begin, and get your Launch to Life Checklist now! 


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