Staff Writer

Staff Writer

MN Office of Higher Education

Do you know what you want to do after you graduate from high school? Most careers will require some training, either on the job or at a postsecondary institution, so it is pertinent to plan your path into your desired career. If you haven't made up your mind yet, there are tools and resources that can help you narrow down your interests as you consider college. Find helpful tips to keep in mind below.

Smiling female college student in the library

Picking out a career when you’re still in high school might seem overwhelming at first, but the good news is that you have plenty of time to explore and decide. Use these questions, tips, and resources to create a college experience that matches your future goals.

If you’re focused on finances while also considering your future path, CareerForce is a time-saving tool that offers career planning help to those seeking guidance and support with their long-term goals. Using CareerForce can help you save money by maximizing the amount of pre-college credits you can claim through any advanced, college-level classes you may have taken while still in high school. This can potentially shorten the time you need to be enrolled in college. If you already have a clear idea of your career path, you can more effectively match your prior school credit to your current course load. Any Advanced Placement or PSEO credits you’ve gained may be applied to your graduation requirements, saving you the money you would have spent on tuition for whichever college you eventually choose.

In some cases, you aren’t even required to have attended school specifically for the credits you want to claim. You can skip certain courses (and paying the college tuition for them) by taking a College Level Examination Program test and demonstrating that you already know the things you would otherwise learn in a college course.

Another practical way to save money on your college experience is by receiving automatic credit for any prior work you’ve completed that’s relevant to the degree you’re seeking, which some colleges may accept toward your credit requirements. In some cases, presenting your academic institution with your work portfolio in the same discipline you want credit for is accepted. You can talk to your college admissions counselor to learn more and find out whether this option is available, along with any requirements.

It’s also a good idea to spend time learning about the industries you’re interested in, and the current and projected career landscape within each one before selecting college courses. You’ll likely want an idea of what the work would look like post-graduation, which you can get from career counselors and your own research about the field. Start by asking questions like: How long does it take an average worker to progress on their career path? What are the opportunities and benefits of the field? What salary range is typical for this industry?

As you research, consult resources and ask questions, remember to combine the technical information with your own passions, interests and understanding of your strengths and desires. What do you want out of a career? What activities make you feel accomplished? What skills feel natural to you, or what do you want to learn about? These questions can be answered with time spent in personal reflection, as well as talking with people who know you the best — parents, relatives and close friends.

Each person’s goals are unique, but by taking the time to explore some of the resources available to you and finding out what financial aid programs exist, you’ll find solutions to help achieve a fulfilling future.


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