Back-to-School and Looking Ahead | Getting Ready for the Future


Most high school juniors and seniors spend a large amount of time “getting ready.” They get ready for class, sports, activities, jobs, and other responsibilities. They also face a distinct and added pressure to prepare for their futures. Upcoming graduation not only signifies a successful end to their primary education, but that they need to be ready to find something else to do.

This pressure to be ready for so many changes can be discouraging and overwhelming. Recognizing how to manage that pressure before junior or senior years begin is the best way to prepare for making decisions, accomplishing goals, and establishing readiness for the future.

The Near Future

It’s common for juniors and seniors to focus so much on what’s ahead that they lose sight of more immediate tasks and responsibilities. Of course, it’s important to manage the deadlines of college entrance exams, applications, essays, and interviews. It’s also important for those near-graduates who plan to enter the work force to network, apply, and gain experience.

However, looking too far ahead can interfere with what should be accomplished in the present. As juniors and seniors, students still have schoolwork and many other extracurriculars that need their focus. Much of their far future depends on the success of their near future.

For this reason, high school juniors and seniors need to prioritize their short-term goals as much as their long-term plans. Students should have an outline of goals for the present and focus on taking the steps to achieve them. This will enhance their planning and management of long-term goals as well.

The Far Future

It’s difficult for the most accomplished adult to know what they plan to do in the future, let alone a junior or senior in high school. Yet these students face enormous decisions that seem to determine whether they will be successful or not. That type of pressure can cause undue stress and undermine their path to goal achievement.

Rather than providing answers for their far future plans, students are better served by asking questions and discussing their concerns. If they know an adult who seems passionate about a career, or they have interest in a particular field of study, they should ask as many questions to get as much information as possible. In addition, students should be encouraged to voice concerns about the future or how to achieve their goals. They will realize in talking to others the possibilities of experience, what goals are important, and the different paths to success.

Very few people take a linear road when it comes to higher education and careers. It’s important for high school juniors and seniors to understand that detours and obstacles are not only expected in college or the workforce but welcomed. Primary K-12 education prepares students for many things, but post-graduation reality is more complex. Students who learn to communicate their concerns and are encouraged to ask questions will be far more ready for an unpredictable future.


The best approach to managing getting back to school for juniors and seniors and getting ready for the future is balance. Parents, teachers, and school counselors can help by providing patience, guidance, and support. Often the best tool is allowing these students to ask questions and truly listening to their goals and concerns.

Students can keep a balance between returning for their last half of high school and facing college/employment decisions by asking questions, voicing concerns, outlining goals, and focusing on present tasks. This balance creates a healthy way to manage responsibilities for the near future and decisions for the far future.