Start Building A Successful Career in HS


I. How Your HS Education Elevates You and Gives You Many Choices

II. The Waste of Time and Money From Not Preparing Yourself in HS

III. Deciding on a Career that is Right for You

IV. Building A Long-Term Career Plan 

V. Building a Successful Career Requires Persistence and Commitment


"You will open doors to many opportunities and have a bright future if you take responsibility for yourself early in your life and set high goals." 


I. How Your HS Education Elevates You and Gives You Many Choices   

Achievement in high school is the first written record of your accomplishments and increases your chances of success. Besides giving you the strong foundation you need to be successful when you move on to college or any other type of post-high school career training, good high school grades are a currency that will let you get the scholarships and financial aid you will need to finance your post-high school education and is the most important job you will have at this point in your life. Take charge of your life and sign up for the classes you will need to succeed and not just what your school requires for graduation. Here is a list of things you can choose to do in high school that will help prepare you for that next step in your education and for a successful career:

  1. People who are successful are people who can communicate effectively. Take as many classes in reading, writing and speaking as you can fit into your schedule.
  2. Mathematics teaches you how to solve problems. You should take at least two years of Algebra and one year of Geometry. If you are looking at careers in engineering or computer science, then you need to take even more advanced math classes in high school like trigonometry and calculus. If you have a talent for math, develop proficiency in the subject. Remember, the highest paid college majors right now are all in engineering and science. These high paying careers require that you are proficient in math. The same is true of many of the highest paid skilled trades. Tool and Die Makers need to know trigonometry. Electricians, Plumbers and Heating and Air Technicians use algebra. Taking the appropriate math courses you need in high school will prepare you for the courses you will be required to take when you move from high school into a college, technical school, an apprenticeship program or other types of advanced training that require some type of math.
  3. Science classes like biology, chemistry, and physics are important no matter what career you choose to pursue. These classes will teach you how things work in the world around you and help you make good decisions when you face common situations in your life. An example would be knowing how the human body works will help you maintain your health and communicate well with your doctors if you are sick.
  4. It is important that you know what is going on around you both locally and globally. Subjects like Geography, Civics, History, and Economics will all help you gain a better understanding of how and why people are motivated to behave like they do. This understanding will help you make better decisions when you are dealing with people throughout your life.
  5. Languages also give you the opportunity to learn about another culture and can help you work with people from all over the world.
  6. Today everyone needs some basic computer skills no matter what career they choose. Take the courses offered in your high school.
  7. Use high school as an opportunity to earn credits for college and technical training. It is possible in many places to take some college courses while you are in high school during your junior and senior years. Many high schools also offer apprenticeships where you can learn about a trade and earn technical school credits that will also save you money on tuition if you decide to pursue a technical career.
  8. Pay attention to your grades. They represent your first major record of personal achievement. For this reason, high school grades are more important to you getting into a college, a technical school or an apprenticeship program than standardized achievement tests. They are also a currency. The better your grades the greater the opportunities you have to get scholarships and financial aid.
  9. Start in your Sophomore year to learn about what it costs to go to college or a technical school and begin discussing these expenses with your parents.  Ask them what general income level your family has so that you can determine if you will be eligible for scholarships based on financial need. Remember, the sticker price of an education that is listed in a college or technical school catalogue is not the price most people from families with average to below average incomes pay. Most all of the students from families in these income levels get some financial assistance. Also families with above average income who can afford a state school cannot usually afford to send their children to more expensive, elite schools that are often privately funded.  If you are from one of these families and you have the grades and test scores, scholarships may be available to you because these schools want a diversified student body. If attending an elite school is your goal, pursue it and find out what financial aid is available
  10. Learn about student loans. The first thing you should know is that the Federal government guarantees student loans. What that means is the government guarantees that the bank will be paid if you do not pay the bank. The government guarantee does not mean that the government will excuse you from not paying the loan and pay it for you. You cannot eliminate this debt by declaring bankruptcy as you can a home or auto loan. Your student loans will follow you until they are paid.Because the government guarantees student loans made by banks, they will generally be willing to loan you money for your education. So it is important that you know how much you can expect to earn after you have invested your time and money in your education before you consider taking out a student loan. As a general rule of thumb, it is going to be difficult for most people to pay back student loans if those loans are more than half what you expect to earn per year three to five years after you finish your education. Do your homework and make certain you do not take on more student loan debt than you can manage. YPNG Mentor Articles all have sections that will show you the earnings level to expect from different professions. YPNG Forums also have discussions about this subject where people will share their own experience dealing with student debt. There are also articles and books on the Blog page that let you read about different strategies to help reduce the cost of your advanced education.


II. The Waste of Time and Money by Not Preparing Yourself in HS  

The fact that many people began their training after high school not fully prepared has consequences. It means that only about 42% of people over 25 have received either an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree even though 65% of high school graduates enter programs for this kind of advanced training after high school:

Educational attainment in the United States, Age 25 and Over (2013)  US Department of Labor Statistics



High school graduate


Some college


Associate's and/or Bachelor's degree


Bachelor's degree


Master's and/or Doctorate and/or professional degree


Doctorate and/or professional degree




It is also important you have the information you need to determine the value of any kind of post-high school education before starting whether it is college, technical schools or beginning an apprenticeship.

Almost 40% of college graduates with degrees are underemployed or unemployed. This means that only about 20% of all high school graduates get college degrees where they end up being employed in jobs that actually require college.

The underemployed of so many young people who were ambitious and finished their four-year degrees shows they were not well prepared when they chose their major or made a bad choice when they chose the school where they received their training. But they only found out their major or degree was not as valuable as they thought after they completed their coursework and went to find a job.

So that you do not find yourself with an unfavorable outcome like these people experienced, YPNG wants to encourage you to begin researching your career path in high school. Beginning in high school is important. If you do not take the high school classes that allow you to compete when you get to college or begin any other type of advanced training, you will be at a big disadvantage.

III. Deciding on a Career that is Right for You 

First, do a thorough self- evaluation of your personal strengths and weaknesses. You intuitively know the subjects in school that you like and where you excel. But also look at your other abilities. For example, the YPNG Blog page has an article on a book titled Mechanical Aptitude and Spatial Relationship Test. This is a common test given to people in a variety of professions including some engineers and many skilled trades. Passing this test can be a requirement to be hired for some jobs. If you are considering careers that require mechanical aptitude, getting yourself familiar with these kinds of tests could be important in your self-evaluation process as you determine your personal strengths and weaknesses just as the SAT tests are for college admission.

Part of good preparation also means thoroughly researching the careers you may be considering to be certain they will allow you to reach your personal goals for both job satisfaction and income. Here are some points to consider when you are doing this kind of research. All these points and more are covered in individual YPNG Mentor Articles.

  • Learn what the career involves in terms of what you will actually be doing most days so that you are certain it fits your personality and abilities.
  • Get a good idea about the number and type of people you will be collaborating with each day.
  • Understand the personal time commitment needed to be successful.
  • Get good information on starting salaries and how salaries for each career you are considering normally progress as you gain work experience.
  • Make sure you know the regional differences in earnings for many careers and if you would have to relocate to reach your personal goals.
  • Know what the growth prospects are for a particular career by researching the future demand for the skills you will acquire with your advanced education.
  • There is normally going to be some ongoing education required to remain competitive in many types of careers. Know what the requirements are for the careers you are researching and whether you or your employer pays for it.

When you have some ideas about careers you think you would like to pursue, make sure you take the courses offered in high school that are necessary for you to begin your advanced education after high school graduation. The YPNG Blog page has several articles relating to preparation in high school including Use All Four Years of High School to Prepare for College and A High School Action Plan.


IV. Build A Long-Term Career Plan and Regularly Update It.

On the YPNG Blog page is an article College Admissions Preparation - Sophomore Year of High School. It is based on a program that has proven success helping students choose a college and professional career.  Some of the things this article will show you how to do are:

  • Obtain College Admission Applications
  • Write a High School Resume
  • Write Your College Essay
  • Get Letters of Recommendation
  • Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Research Potential Employers and the Classes They Want You to Take

Keep in mind that time is your most valuable asset.  Time, like money, is limited. In order to maximize your success, you must allocate your time in a way that will help you most effectively reach your goals. This requires you to make smart choices about how you pursue your education and training and regularly evaluate your progress. Here are some suggestions on how you can do this:

  • You need to make certain the college or technical training program you want to attend is well thought of by your potential employers. Attending a poorly accredited institution makes it much more difficult to get a job and is not a good use of your time or money. Many do not have records on the placement rates of their graduates. Even if they do, it is still important to ask people currently working in the career you are planning to pursue where to go to get the best education that will open the most doors for you after graduation. The YPNG Forum pages and Mentor Articles are good resources for you to use to get answers
  • Do an honest evaluation of your personal academic abilities. It is normally not the best choice for you to go to a school where you are ranked low in the incoming class based on your grades and test scores compared to other students because you will likely not graduate with a high class ranking. When you graduate, recruiters for many kinds of jobs are only interested in those who rank in the top half of a graduating class. Know where you can reasonably be expected to rank at a particular school when you enter and be honest with yourself about how high you think you will be able to rank at graduation. If you are set on graduating from a particular school where you would be ranked low when you begin classes, consider taking your first year or two at another school where all or most of your credits will later transfer.  If you do better than your high school academic records and test scores would indicate, you will gain the confidence that you can successfully compete and can then transfer to your preferred school. Remember, the school that issues you your degree does not have to be the school where you earned all your graduation credits.
  • Develop a realistic budget about what it will cost for your education and training. Remember that the advertised price for college tuition and some types of technical training is generally not the real price paid by most students. Scholarships and grants can usually be found to lower this cost especially for young people from families with average to below average incomes rarely pay the full sticker price of a college education. Make sure you know what scholarships and grants are available if you fall into this category before you write off attending the institution you prefer. You can also develop strategies to help minimize your student debt. There is an article on the YPNG blog page that outlines an action plan for Sophomores and another that discusses the benefits of attending a two-year community college before you enter a larger school where you want to get your degree. The tuition is lower and you can save money by living at home for a couple of years. Just make sure that the four-year college you plan to transfer to will accept the credits from the particular community college you attend.
  • Make sure that whatever training you get is a good investment compared to what you expect to earn in your career. This is an especially critical decision if you must take on student loans to complete your training. The average student loan debt was just over $35,000, according to the Institute for College Access and Success report Student Debt and the Class of 2015. If this is the amount of debt you think you are going to accumulate, then to be able to comfortably pay off this debt, the career you choose would need to pay about double your student loans after being in the job a few years. So people with this kind of average debt burden would need to have a reasonable expectation of earning $60,000 per year a few years after graduation. If you complete a degree and earn less than this, then you will not have made a good investment of your time and money and the student loan will be a burden. Federally guaranteed student loans began about the time the first baby boomers entered college. Those who incurred student loan debt back then are now discovering that if they were unable to pay off their student loans during their working careers their retirement is being affected. The government is taking money from the Social Security checks of people delinquent on student loans.  All of the YPNG Mentor Articles have salary statistics for each career to help you make sure your salary expectations are realistic. They show a salary range and talk about regional salary differences.  These regional differences are important to know if you want to maximize your lifetime earnings potential.
  • If after doing all your research you find yourself in a major or in some type of training program where you cannot compete or you do not like the required coursework, reassess your personal strengths and weaknesses. Many people do change majors. But it is expensive. Look at a work/study option if you do not have a clear direction.
  • If you are in college, try and get internships or summer jobs that relate to your field of study. There are examples in some of the Mentor Articles where people were able to get internships and other part-time jobs while they were working on their degrees that helped them open doors to jobs after they graduated.
  • Take Advanced Placement Exams in High School which provide an opportunity to earn college credit and are usually offered each year in May.

V. Building a Successful Career Requires Persistence and Commitment 

Persistence is a personality trait you have to develop to be successful if you are going to deal with the inevitable obstacles and difficulties everyone faces when pursuing any worthwhile goal. Persistence means that you look at problems as chances to show your personal ability to solve those problems. They are an opportunity to separate you from those people who do not have the character to persevere and get discouraged when things are not going well.

You can only persevere when you are fully committed to being successful. A lot of people are highly intelligent or have other unique abilities but are not successful. It is persistence fueled by your own personal commitment to succeed in all aspects of your life, not just academics, that will make you a success.

Here is a quote from LeBron James, a gifted athlete who is considered the best basketball player in the world. He is successful not just because of his natural abilities but because he is committed to being both a professional success and also successful in his personal life. Just like LeBron, you need to think each day about being committed to your career goal and ways you can strengthen your personal character.

Commitment is a big part of what I am and what I believe. How committed are you to winning? How committed are you to being a good friend? To being trustworthy? To being successful? How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model? There's that moment every morning when you look in the mirror: Are you committed, or are you not?

LeBron James

Here is YPNG’s Commitment to you. We intend to work to build a site to help you make a good career choice that will allow you to reach your personal and financial goals. We will do this by building a Mentors library with written articles and podcasts that will allow you to learn from the personal experiences of successful people from all walks of life who will share with you how they accomplished their own goals.  We will offer virtual classrooms for you to ask questions and get answers from Mentors and other Members and provide you with references to books and articles that can help you research careers, prepare a strategy for your education, find a job and know what you need to do once you are there.

Let's get started by reviewing the list of Mentors who have careers that interest you and reading their articles or listening to their podcasts and talking with them in our virtual classrooms.