The time has come for the next step in your journey. You’ve worked long and hard to get to this point. No matter how challenging your journey or how many sleepless nights you spent studying, you have put in a remarkable amount of effort to get to this point. For that, you should be proud, and we congratulate you. At this point, you have experienced adventures and challenges both big and small, yet there are many more ahead of you. As you march towards greater horizons, make sure to look back upon your experiences to enrich those to come. We hope that these few words of guidance will help you in the next stages of your life.
High School Graduates/College Students
So far, you’ve gained a lot of help from those around you to get to this point. Whether you realize it or not, your parents, school administrators, and countless others have been working hard to help you stay on track and achieve success. While those people will still be working hard and rooting for you, it’s time for you to pick up more responsibility. If you have not already, you need to start thinking about the future and the kind of life you want to live. You don’t need to have everything in order now, but you do need to start making decisions about what you want to do in the future and do the things that will set you up for success in that arena. Start thinking about the next steps in your life and what you need to do to get there. Do your research when making decisions, and weigh the impact of the various options available to you. Once you have a goal in mind, work backward and think about what your first steps should be in addition to where you want to end up.
You never know what experiences will inform your decisions later on in life. While it is important to remain focused on your larger ambitions, it is just as important to nurture other interests as well. See if you can find any way to make connections between seemingly different interests. One of my favorite examples of this in action is how Steve Jobs’ passion for design revolutionized how we used and thought about computers. All of Apple’s products have typically existed for years before their version hits the market, but what draws consumers to their products is the design and simplicity. Especially in the 80s and 90s, many tech products were utilitarian – made so that they did the job but not necessarily to make the job simple or enjoyable. Steve Jobs’ legacy can be seen today in the success of Apple and its products. So, what’s stopping you from revolutionizing an industry (or many) like he did? Take that class that interests you, even though it may seem a little weird. Pursue the clubs that interest you. Get involved in organizations on and off campus. Push your limits and don’t let a fear of failure overcome you. After all, if you’re not making mistakes, you might not be trying hard enough.
Keep finding scholarships
Approximately 20,000 students each year receive full-ride scholarships. Out of each graduating class, just 0.3% of students receive enough grants and scholarships to cover the full cost of college. Odds are that you are wondering how to fund the rest of your collegiate education. Thankfully, your scholarship search doesn’t have to be treacherous. There are literally billions of dollars in scholarships and grants out there for students of all ages and education levels. Don’t just go after the big ones. Target those smaller scholarships that little people will pursue. Even though you’ll be winning small amounts at a time, it really adds up if you persevere, and you can possibly end up graduating debt free. It can all start with a google search. Just search “scholarships for (blank)” and add in your career interests, group affiliations, GPA, college, grade level, interests/hobbies, special skills/awards, and more to find scholarships that are perfect for you. You can also take a look at our growing database of scholarships or use other sites like Fastweb, Unigo, or Scholly.
When most people hear the word “networking,” they think of stuffy, after-work meetings between professionals passing business cards around. While it can be that, it doesn’t have to be. Plain and simple, networking just entails being friendly and trying to meet other people in your field. In addition to meeting great new people, it’s a great way to stay on top of the news and opportunities in your industry. Who knows, you might meet someone and that leads to a great collaboration down the line. The main challenge is that there isn’t one place to meet a lot of people like there was in high school or college – you have to be more proactive. Attend meetups and conferences, get into a hobby, volunteer, collaborate, and more.
Just because you’re out of college doesn’t mean the learning stops. It’s generally good for your brain to keep active and continue challenging yourself, but learning new skills can also be a way to keep ahead of the competition. Whether you want to learn something simply because you love it or learn because it will help you get jobs and raises, it’s essential to keep challenging yourself and trying new things.
This is just the beginning
No one expects you to have everything figured out at this point. Whether you understand your focus or not, you’re going to change your mind many times in the future, and the things you experience may change what you want to do moving forward. That’s okay. Things don’t have to be perfect. Most of the time, things won’t be. What’s important is to face your challenges head-on. Even if things don’t start as you imagine, it can turn out great in the end, so persevere.
Ralston is the Founder and CEO and owner of Strive Academics. Ralston is a lifelong learner and began tutoring in 2011 to share his love of learning with others and help students achieve their academic goals. He began Strive Academics with a focus on giving students and families a more comprehensive set of tools and guidance to help them reach their academic goals. He is always looking for new ways to help students with their challenges and loves helping them succeed and achieve new heights.