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 | By Sheri Wohlfert

What’s Next After High School?

Helping teens plan for life after high school is a mighty task. It’s mighty because it’s emotional for parents to think about their kids growing up and taking on the world. It’s mighty because society has given teens a pretty tilted view of what success and future success look like. I’d like to offer some thoughts about this fork in the road.


First step:

Turn to the Father in prayer. Jeremiah 29:11 promises that God has a plan for each of us, and we need to turn to him first and seek his inspiration and guidance. As parents, we should pray that our kids yield to his voice rather than to the sounds of the world. It’s not a secret code to crack; the Father who perfectly created us is delighted to show us his perfect will for our life.

New question:

Instead of asking, “What are your plans after graduation?” try asking, “What do you like to do?” or “What kind of person do you want to become?” Focus on what brings them joy and sparks their passion, or what allows them to share their unique gifts and talents with the world.

The big picture:

Help your teen step back and ponder the questions, “How would you like to make the world better?” and “What gifts, talents and abilities has God created you with to help you do that?”

Jump in:

As possibilities begin to surface, create a short list. Then jump in and try them out. Spend time talking, listening, watching and doing the things on the list. If your child wants to be a teacher, for example, doing an afternoon job shadow won’t paint a clear picture; help them find a place to really immerse themselves.


College is fabulous, but it isn’t the only option; in many cases it isn’t even the best option. Our kids are not second-class citizens if they make a choice other than a university education. We need to encourage our kids to let their post-high-school experience be dictated by their passions and skills. Trade school, community college and an array of alternative job training programs and military service have produced some of the most happy, successful, productive professionals I know.

Take time:

If your teen is searching and unsure, it makes sense to let them take time to make a decision that will affect the rest of their life. Taking a “gap” year to experience and inquire is a great idea. A gap year isn’t a year of TV and sleeping in, it’s a year of service, working, internship and deep prayer. Think of it as a career test-drive.

The true work:

Each of us was created to be a saint, and our career is a vehicle to fortify our sainthood; through our work we can grow in holiness. We need to pray for this true work as much as our kids do. Being open is key: to a vocation, to a career path, to an educational path and mostly open to the fact that God may be calling our kids to do something we never even imagined.

Final thought:

Whatever path and work our children choose, we should remind them to choose something that will help lead them to heaven and allow them to bring glory to God.

Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic school teacher, speaker, writer and founder of Joyful Words Ministries. Sheri blogs at