The autumn after we graduate from high school, we young adults are expected to go to college. That’s simply the pattern. However, not all of us follow that well-trodden path, and people look at those who don’t as odd or lazy.
I live at home with my parents and have no plans for college now that I’ve graduated from high school. I suffer from the same dilemma as many new graduates who aren’t heading straight to college: how do I fill my time, stay organized, and remain productive?
Here are 5 tips to make the most of your life without college.
1. HAVE A SCHEDULE
Even for someone like me, who likes to figure things out on the fly, planning is useful—and it can teach you to discipline yourself for later in life.
Of course, when I first put together a schedule, I felt a bit lost, because without school, there wasn’t much to put in it!
So let’s work on filling up that time usefully. Not playing video games or watching TV all day! You’ll get some suggestions for filling that schedule later in this article.
2. GET A JOB
After all, you’re going to need money, aren’t you? And working a job is going to teach you skills you can use later in life.
If nothing else, you’ll have something to put on your resume that says, “I was a good and faithful worker for a whole year at McDonald’s, and my supervisor will vouch for me.”
In addition, you’ll learn invaluable skills like showing up on time, having a good attitude, and doing your best. Those kind of works are rare, especially among young people, so if you put those skills into practice, you’ll be beyond the rest regardless of your skills or education.
I have an evening job as a secretary at a gymnastics academy. Not only does it have short hours, allowing me lots of time to explore other things, but it’s also fun and improves my secretarial skills.
I’ve learned a lot about scheduling, business management, dealing with people, and of course basic etiquette like sending a professional email and talking on the phone.
My personal advice would be get a part time job to start with so you’ll have time to pursue other things, such as hobbies and volunteer opportunities.
3. PURSUE HOBBIES
I write, blog, and teach writing, but I’m also pursuing some off-computer hobbies so I can get out and stretch my boundaries a little. Broadening your interests will make you more creative—and you’d be surprised how these types of things pop up and help you throughout your life.
This year I’m going to try to put more effort into things I’m not super comfortable with, like learning Spanish and graphic design. I’m also hoping to participate in some new activities and experiences (is this a good time to start on your bucket list? I think so!).
I don’t think I’ll ever be a professional Spanish-speaker or graphic-designer. However, it is always fun to explore new things—and who knows? Maybe you’ll find a secret calling!
Not only are you possibly contributing to a worthy cause and finding something to do which no one can mock, but lots of volunteer opportunities can teach you skills—and, if you choose to pursue it at a later time, give you college credit.
For instance, if you’re volunteering at a veteran’s home, you can learn a lot just by talking to some of the people there!
If you’re volunteering in the office of a local pregnancy resource center, you’re learning office management.
If you’re volunteering at a kid’s program at your local church or school, you’re learning how to deal with and teach kids.
This year, I’m conducting tours at a nearby history museum and helping teach an AWANAs class. Both are fun and rewarding for different reasons.
Volunteering will more often than not push you out of your comfort zone and help make you a more well-rounded, generous person.
This is also a good way to feel out how you’re called to minister to others. Do you work well with children? Enjoy talking to elderly people? What impassions you? It’s possible to find answers to these questions while exploring volunteer work.
5. MEET FRIENDS
Too often we forget that one of the things that makes a well-rounded person is well-rounded relationships.
I’m going to do my best throughout this next year to meet with my friends on a regular basis. It’s always rewarding to spend time with your buddies!
Friends are there to build you up and—more importantly—you are there to build them up.
Even if all your friends aren’t nearby, there’s always video or phone calls or even good old-fashioned snail mail. Long-distance relationships are both feasible and rewarding, no matter what the movies tell you.
Skipping college can be difficult when everyone else has gone to their chosen university. It’s hard not to feel left out, lost, or bored. However, there’s not a thing wrong with not going to college if that’s not where God is leading you.
“When one door closes, another opens” is quite true. There are many opportunities for teens who don’t immediately hop into college—you just have to look for them!