An Eligible College Student must spend time Outside School Hours preparing not only for College Applications, but for life. Goals, Planning & Prioritizing should be considerd on a regular basis. This involves setting goals and planning how to obtain those goals. Then reflect on what’s important to you and prioritize those things in your life.


When you are planning your life (yes, even a 14 year old should think about planning their life), goals are a very important tool. Do you love being in the outdoors, and want your life to always include time outdoors? Time to think of how to fulfill that goal. Unrestricted Stock Tree TrunkDo you want the outdoors to be part of your job, or have a job that allows you time to spend outdoors? What would that look like? As you look into opportunities, maybe you decide you want to be an advocate for ecology and saving the planet for future generations. Maybe you are not that much into science, so that makes being a scientist unlikely. Maybe you also love city life, so you’ve decided you don’t want to be a Park Ranger. Then your parents remind you how you are so effective at arguing your point (ahemmm) with them when you disagree. Maybe you decide law interests you, so you think, maybe I’ll become an Environmental attorney. You enjoy school for the most part, so you don’t mind the extra years of schooling that will be required. Eventually, you will have more control of your hours, which means you can take a day off here and there for a long hike. Hmm, you are liking this idea…

Time to explore this goal; you need to try to experience this line of work and decide what you should do be qualified. You decide to join the debate team at school, volunteer for an organization that maintains trails in your nearby parks, and try to arrange a summer internship with your mother’s cousin, who is an Animal Rights attorney. As you are off pursuing your (potential) passions, you are also creating a great narrative for your College application. It’s OK if that narrative is “I did all these things and realized I don’t really like law, but really prefer the idea of being an Environmental Lobbyist, or want to work for an Animal Conservation Organization, or I’m not sure what I want to do yet, or, or, or…” Colleges want you to explore, they will love that you are searching for your passion. We are always impressed that Joey decided he wanted to be an Electrical Engineer when he was 12 years old, then actually became an Electrical Engineer. But most of us start College not really sure what we want to do with our life, and that is great. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t actively pursuing our interests in the meantime.


Pixabay Human Head in Wire

Prioritizing what’s important to you should be done regularly, as that answer may change over time.

This advice is something that I wish someone had given to me when I was starting College. There are many practical aspects to choosing the right career path, beyond finding something you enjoy doing. Consider these aspects and what sounds most important to you (understanding that answer may change as you get older). Here are just a few:

  • How do you handle stress?
  • How hard are you willing to work at your career (many years of education, many hours of work)?
  • Will your career pay enough to satisfy your needs?
  • Would you rather work more hours and then be able to afford to pay someone to mow the lawn, clean the house, etc., so in your limited free time, you can concentrate on having fun or spending time with your family?
  • Would you rather work less hours and have more free time, which will likely mean less income?
  • How important is job security vs. opportunities to reinvent yourself in new careers?
  • How do you see your promotions taking place – more responsibilities, moving into management, or a more technical position?
  • Do you hope to eventually own your own company?

I have one child who is less into possessions than the other child. That trait may give her more options when it comes to choosing a career. She may decide to avoid a career that may require long hours but pays well, to be satisfied with life. But even for that child, I remind her that she is passionate about travel, and that unless her job incorporates travel, if she chooses a less lucrative career path, she will either have to forego frequent travel or need to be very creative in finding ways to travel inexpensively. Remember to be realistic, not idealistic, in what is important to you – most of us would prefer to work less hours but make more money, but that is often not realistic. The sooner, and more often you prioritize your life, the less likely you will wake up one day and think ‘How did I end up here, I’m miserable.”.

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