How to Better Prepare Students for Life After High School

Graduation season is upon us, how exciting! Graduation day is such a memorable day, but it can also be a very intimidating time for many students. As educators, are we doing enough to prepare our students for the day after graduation, when they will no longer have support from their teachers to fall back on? Are we truly preparing our students to be responsible, independent, hard-working individuals?

How to Better Prepare Students for Life After High School
What can we incorporate into our school day that can better prepare all students for their first day in the real world?

1. Post-Secondary Education: Whether they are off to university, trade, a vocational college/training or a branch of the military, students should conduct research on the various paths they can take upon graduation to further their education. Even if students should choose to take some time off before continuing, it is imperative that students be aware of the different choices available to them, as well as where to look for assistance to each.

2. Money/Credit Smarts: All students should have to take a course on personal finance or financial literacy. Students need to learn how to be responsible with money, how to save, how to pay bills (and the importance of paying them on time), as well as the correct usage of credit. To do this, I created a project to reinforce money skills, while teaching the budget process in a fun and interesting way. Students learned the differences between 'need' and 'want' items and gave them their first real look into what it's like to live on their own!

Personal Finance, Budgeting, Monthly Project
3. Effective Communication: Kids talk with text messaging, Facebook and Twitter slang all day. They answer questions in 'one-word' responses. Students need to be taught the correct/appropriate way to speak to a boss/manager, how to compose a professional e-mail and how to answer/respond to phone calls. No matter their career path, learning to communicate is essential to being successful.

4. Basic Life Skills: Can your students cook? Clean? Sew? Do they know basic first-aid? These basic life skills will come in handy when living on their own, during a time when they may not have support close by. These are skills that everyone should be able to master (on some level) for survival.

5. Work/Life Balance: Being able to balance your work life with your social/home life is something that can prevent a great deal of stress in newly-graduating students. Students need to be taught a healthy way to balance their responsibilities at work, while at the same time, being able to enjoy their personal lives.

6. Time Management: This reinforces the importance of why teachers provide (and need to be consistent with) deadlines in school. Students need to be taught how to create timelines of when upcoming work is due, while setting small, achievable goals along the way. Timely arrivals are also an important part of management. I wrote a blog post about how I encourage my students to arrive on time, which you can find here.

7. Learning from our Failures: Not everyone will be the best at everything and that's okay! That's how we all learn. Students that have an awareness of this concept early on, will have more of a positive mindset and this energy will help to keep them trudging forward.

8. How to Survive Without Technology: Gasp! I know, it's unheard of that students/society might have to be without technology for more than a few moments. But guess what, it happens often! Students, as well as adults, need to learn how to do basic, everyday things without the help and ease of technology. It's rewarding to know something without 'asking Siri' or 'Googling it' first!

9. Self-Care: Although this is not to be school-related, it is important for students who are finally on their own and beginning to feel the stress and anxiety of what it means to be an adult, to know how to take care of themselves and seek help when needed. Your well-being comes first and learning to stay healthy and happy (this is where the 'freshman fifteen' conversation may come in handy) is the key to a successful life.

10. Career Planning: Job hunting, resumes, cover letters, interviews and thank-you's. These are the necessities that our students need to master in order to be successful. The great part about this essential tool for students to have, is to give them the opportunity to practice and be aware of what each of these important employment documents entail. How can this be incorporated into a curriculum? I complete a Career/Job Exploration Project in my English class every year, this ensures that students leave the class with some sort of career awareness, especially if they have not had the opportunity to take a career preparation course.

These are just a few things that schools can incorporate into their curriculum to help our graduating students become more prepared to take on the 'real-world'. Many high schools offer business and career-related class that help to prepare students for life after high school, so hopefully students are aware of what these courses can offer. What else can you suggest?


  1. Great post! I was nodding my head in agreement the whole post!! Love the project you have them do about "needs" and "wants". Thanks!

  2. Thank you, Addie!! I thoroughly enjoy the "needs" and "wants" activity too! It definitely makes them think!

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