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You’re probably already deep in thought about what to do next by the time you’re halfway through high school, and it almost definitely involves continuing your education. Many students today are concerned about the high price of a college education, so they’re paying closer attention to how it helps them with an overall career.

What you will discover in your exploration is that it’s the career which determines your choice of continued education. And, there are options.

The next step

Not every job requires further education after high school. Most jobs that are part of an overall career, however, do. Your challenge is to decide the particular type of further education that best prepares you for the career you’d like to pursue.

 

College

The most common option for further education is college. These institutions are set up to offer you a general academic education meant to prepare you for a variety of careers. It usually takes four years to complete the required courses to graduate.

You’ll select a major, which will offer you courses that focus on a particular field. There are college majors that are career-specific, but generally, colleges don’t specifically prepare you for a particular type of job or career. College is meant to give you a base of academic knowledge. You’ll supply the career steps.

If you’re not sure what you want to do for a living, going to college may be an option if you can afford it. You’ll have at least four years to explore different options as you take general courses, and you can even change your mind about a major.

 

Technical School

Even in high school, some people already have a clear idea of the career or type of job they want to pursue. A technical or vocational school – which can be a college – is the better choice for continuing education. Instead of a generalized education, you’ll take specific classes that prepare you for a particular industry.

It usually takes only about two years to complete the required courses to graduate. There’s a common misconception about this approach to continued education – and it’s that the experience is less valuable because the education may take place at a community college. The opposite is true. Colleges are more expensive because you end up paying to support a general infrastructure that contributes little to the specific education you’ll need to succeed in a chosen field.

This is your best choice for continued education if you know exactly what you want to do, such as pursuing a career in the trades as a plumber, an electrician, or a heating and air conditioning  technician. You’ll receive hands-on training and actual experience that directly translates to the job you’ll have after graduation.