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What to do After High School?

after high school graduation picture celebrating starting next chapter in life with blonde woman holding cap

Being a Chattanooga senior portraits photographer, I work with so many incredible seniors that are all pursuing different paths in life. We always ask that question, you’ve graduated high school, what’s next? After high school looks different for everyone, and that’s totally fine and great. Let’s talk about all the options you have, because sometimes these things aren’t talked about!

You’ve Graduated, Now What?

After high school, traditionally kids go straight to college, but times are changing and we are so blessed to have so many options! We’re going to break down all the options newly graduated high school seniors have, and how important it is to choose your own path.


First, college. This may be the most popular and well known option, but may not be the best choice for everyone. One of the perks to going straight to college after high school is you’ve prepared for this. You’ve spent your whole life studying and learning to get here, so you’re ready. There won’t be much of an adjustment period as you’ve already been studying and going to classes. Next, you’re able to start studying to specialize and have a degree in your chosen path. However, you’re going to be potentially getting into debt or taking student loans.

young woman wearing college football jersey during outdoor senior session

While these all sound great, what happens if you don’t know what direction you want to go in life? Take your time in college making that decision! Throughout your studies you will find things you enjoy, and will find your life’s direction.

Trade School After High School

young tennessee senior volunteer firefighter wearing fire gear standing in front of fire truck in Chattanooga

I’m always the biggest cheerleader for trade school. Attending a trade school is an excellent option to get some hands on learning in fields that have jobs open all the time, that need you! Throughout your time in school, you’ll be learning and getting certified to work in the field right after you graduate.

Maybe you’re the person that doesn’t love going to school, but loves working with their hands. Whether that’s being a mechanic, electrician or even going to cosmetology school. Nevertheless, those that attend trade school oftentimes are just as successful if not more successful than those that go to traditional college!

Take a Gap Year

Throughout the years spent in school I’m sure we’ve all heard of people taking a gap year after high school. Sometimes it doesn’t have the most positive connotation, but here are a few reasons why a gap year isn’t a bad thing! First, you’re able to gain real world experience. Whether that’s working or traveling, you get real life experience in the real world. You’re able to take time to travel, take a breather, and enjoy life before getting back to the craziness of school! Next, you could pursue a career that interests you, whether that’s photography (heyyyy), videography, social media marketing, or even fashion design.

woman on horse wearing black tank top and black cowboy hat

However, I always suggest pursuing a gap year with the intent to do something afterwards. Or else you could end up not doing anything, and taking a forever gap year! If you work hard and save money in high school this may be something you can swing financially after high school.

Join the Military

Young man wearing army ROTC hat

Perhaps during your high school career none of these options appealed to you, but you wanted to find a greater purpose in life. Maybe that purpose is serving your country, and getting some real world experience. I fully support anyone’s decision to join the military after high school, it’s an incredibly tough but mature decision. My husband served in the military through two deployments, and now has the opportunity and privilege to have his future education paid for. Next, the benefits are absolutely amazing and so great for a growing family.

Community College After High School

Lastly, consider going to community college after graduation I am suggesting community college to my Chattanooga seniors more often than not! Attending community college for a couple of years and then transferring to a full time institution is a great way to save money. Throughout the past year or so, all of the classes have been moved online, so you’d be able to work, live at home (if you’re able) and save money for whenever you transfer out!

Young senior smiling and embracing the diversity around

Nevertheless, whatever you choose, I hope you realize that college isn’t your only option. You have tons of incredible options and opportunities when choosing your path for the next chapter in life. No matter what decision you make I’m so excited for you and know your future is going to be so bright!

Ready to book your Chattanooga senior session? Let’s chat soon!

young Chattanooga senior wearing graduation cap smiling during after high school pictures


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