Guidance counselors are part of almost everyone's high school experience. You know the ones: they hang out in their offices and see you a couple of times each year to tell you what courses you should take if you want to be a teacher, doctor, or lawyer. But for some students, seeing a guidance counselor doesn't really paint the whole picture of what's after high school. In fact, what your counselor doesn't say might be way more important than her recommendations on which biology class to take.
If you're not planning on going to college, here's what your guidance counselor should be saying.
Find a Mentor
One of the best ways to get your foot in the door of any chosen industry is to find someone who has done it before you. Unfortunately, most guidance counselors are so focused on college t hat they don't always realize the worth of connections, volunteerism, and experience. Still, that doesn't mean your counselor can't help you find a mentor. Tell her what kind of job you want and ask if she knows anyone you can interview or talk to.
It can seem like a counselor's main job is to make sure you maintain realistic expectations about what the future holds. You want to become a rock star? Your guidance counselor might urge you down a more "realistic" path. But if you really want something, don't let that love of all things realistic to stop you from making plans. In our opinion, guidance counselors should be your biggest cheerleaders, even if your goals have a capital 'G.'
A guidance counselor wants to see you succeed, so she might work harder on having you avoid rejection than achieving something amazing. But you know that while it totally sucks, rejection is a valuable way to learn something new and prep you for something greater. Instead of just taking classes and courses to avoid rejection in the future, be brave enough to take risks and see where you end up.
College Isn't Always the Best Investment
Coughing up $50K for a year of college is pretty much par for the course, and your guidance counselor knows it. That's why she probably thinks nothing of recommending that you take a full course load, even if you're not sure what you want to do with a degree.
Instead of "investing" in college, make sure you're investing in something that'll really pay you back. There's no sense in getting a degree in English if you want to work in the trades. Instead, explore options like apprenticeships and certifications, rather than putting a ton of money into an investment that you'll never really use.
This Isn't the Biggest Decision You'll Make
Deciding what you'll do after high school is scary, and some guidance counselors put a lot of pressure on making sure you decide NOW. But hey, you're like, 17. How do you know what you want to do tomorrow, let alone for the rest of your life? The truth is that what you decide to do after high school matters, but it's not the most important decision you'll ever make. You can decide over and over again. You might want to be a chef now and decide to be a boat captain later, so don't put so much pressure on yourself right now. Instead, focus on trying a bunch of new things, finding the stuff you're passionate about, and getting to know people who will help you get to your goals.
Hey, we love guidance counselors. They're like the light at the end of a long, high school cafeteria tunnel. But they're not the only place you should look for ideas, inspiration, and help going forward, especially if your counselor is pushing you down a path you don't want. Read between the lines and work on your own goals, even if they aren't counselor kosher.