High school graduation marks a significant milestone for students, and the path forward becomes a canvas of possibilities. After donning their cap and gown, students’ choices can profoundly shape their future.

As a High School Principal, one of my favorite days of the school year was graduation day! I love the buzz of excitement in the air. After watching my students mature over the course of four years, celebrating their transition into adulthood is very special.

I remember my first graduation as the Principal. I was standing on the stage rehearsing my speech when one of my students approached me with tears in their eyes. I asked the student what was wrong. They said, “I am going to miss you, my friends, and school.”

Over the next five minutes, we discussed the student’s plans after graduation. When we finished chatting, I walked the students to their place in line. When the student’s name was called, they walked across the stage confidently, ready to step into the next chapter of their life.

Graduation is the pinnacle of achievement for K-12 students. It is one of a student’s most exciting and enjoyable events. Why? Because it is the completion of 13 years of hard work. It is also the beginning of the next chapter for students.

To ensure students have a plan for life after high school, throughout their time in high school, their counselor partners with the student to develop a plan. During their meetings, counselors encourage students to select one of the 3Es.

What are the 3Es? The three “Es” – Enroll in college, Enlist in the military, or obtain Employment – present distinct avenues, each with benefits for students post-high school. So, let’s explore the opportunities and advantages these paths offer high school graduates.

1. Enroll into College: Cultivating Knowledge and Opportunities

The choice to enroll in college opens up a world of educational and personal growth. Here are some benefits of pursuing higher education:

  • Broadened Horizons: College exposes you to diverse subjects, helping you discover your passions and interests. This exploration can lead to a more informed career choice down the road.
  • Specialized Knowledge: College programs provide in-depth knowledge in your chosen field, equipping you with the skills and expertise necessary to excel in your career.
  • Networking: College is a hub of connections. You’ll have the chance to interact with fellow students, professors, and industry professionals, building a valuable network that can prove instrumental in your future endeavors.
  • Critical Thinking: Higher education fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills. These skills are not only essential in your career but also in navigating life’s challenges.

2. Enlist into the Military: Discipline, Service, and Skills

For those seeking a unique and service-oriented path, enlisting in the military can provide unparalleled experiences and benefits:

  • Discipline: The military instills discipline, structure, and a strong work ethic. These qualities can translate into success in any career pursued afterward.
  • Skill Acquisition: Military training imparts many skills, from leadership and teamwork to technical expertise. These skills are highly transferable and can open doors in various industries.
  • Patriotic Service: Enlisting in the military allows you to serve your country and make a meaningful impact on a global scale. The sense of purpose and fulfillment derived from such service is genuinely unique.
  • Financial Support: Military service often comes with financial support for education, which can help further education after service commitment.

3. Obtain Employment: Early Entry into the Workforce

Entering the workforce straight out of high school offers its own set of advantages:

  • Financial Independence: Employment provides immediate financial stability, allowing one to start supporting oneself and possibly even saving for future goals.
  • Practical Experience: Early employment allows one to gain hands-on experience and build practical skills in a real-world setting. This experience can set them apart from other job seekers later on.
  • Career Progression: Starting a career earlier means a head start on climbing the professional ladder. One can achieve significant career growth over time with dedication and hard work.
  • Exploration: Entry-level jobs can allow one to explore various industries and roles, helping identify strengths and interests before committing to a long-term career path.

Choosing between enrolling in college, enlisting in the military, or obtaining employment depends on unique aspirations, values, and circumstances. Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer; each path offers its own set of benefits and challenges.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

– Walt Disney

Whichever path students choose, they should approach it with dedication, enthusiasm, and a commitment to personal growth. Their journey after high school will shape their future, and by embracing the possibilities of the three “Es,” they’re embarking on an exciting adventure toward a fulfilling and successful life.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent those of my employer or any local, state, or federal government.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    You may also like

    July 23, 2024

    July 16, 2024

    July 9, 2024

    Dr. Kim Moore

    About the author

    I'm Kim, your Educational Leadership Guide. I equip educational leaders with research-based and experientially learned educational leadership principles and best practices to promote student success.