Completing high school is an accomplishment in itself, but the question of what comes next looms for students even before they graduate. The abundance of options can feel overwhelming, along with the weight of the future seeming to rest on every decision.
For youth with disabilities, there are additional considerations around opportunities, rights, and potential supports. To assist these students, youth across the country helped to develop a guide entitled Hitting The Open Road After High School: How to Choose Your Own Adventure to Success! to explore their options for their future after high school.
The Guide focuses on a core set of needs:
- How can I learn to make choices that are right for me?
- What activities can I do during high school to help me get ready?
- What are my options after high school?
- How do I access other supports to be successful?
There’s a strong theme of personal empowerment for youth to develop goals and take charge of knowing what they will need to achieve them. The Guide emphasizes practicing self-determination and challenging yourself, volunteering, and participating in extra-curricular activities to expand options. There are 3 main sections:
- The Guide begins with suggestions for current high school students to maximize their options while still in school. For example, authors suggest that students participate in their own Individual Education Plan meetings throughout high school to insure that they have input to decisions about their schooling.
- Next are descriptions of post-secondary options including: college, training, certifications, apprenticeship, Job Corps, YouthBuild, paid work, internship, volunteer service, and military service.
- The last section covers how to find supports after high school, specifically in the areas of independent living, finances, health, postsecondary education, employment, and vocational rehabilitation.
This is a practical handbook, identifying many career and education paths while encouraging readers to take time to figure out what will fit them best. Written by members of the Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT), a national leadership initiative to improve opportunities for youth to succeed, the overall tone of the Guide is: Remember, this is your life. Advocate for what you want and need to be successful!
YouthACT is led by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth at the Institute for Educational Leadership with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Find more ideas from CareerOneStop to address students’ options after high school, and employment and higher education for people who have disabilities.