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Answers to Your College Questions

How to Answer the Big Question: “What Should I Do after I Graduate High School?”

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what-should-i-do-after-high-schoolDear High School Seniors,

It’s time to wash the sand off your feet and put a shirt on (please put your shirt back on). Summer is over. It’s the beginning of a new school year, and this year you’re heading back as a senior. This clearly means three things:

  1. You are officially safe from being stuffed in any lockers.
  2. One word: prom.
  3. You are about to be asked a lot of questions about your future.

It’s pretty much a fact that as you’re entering your final year of high school, the entire world wants you to answer a ton of questions about your future. You’re kind of like Jennifer Lawrence walking down the red carpet at the Oscars. Microphones are out, cameras are rolling, and all eyes are on you. The only difference is, instead of being asked about your dress, people are asking questions like, “What are you going to do with your life after graduation?”

Let’s get this out of the way right now: That. Question. Sucks.

It sucks because it implies that there’s only one thing you can do when you graduate. It sucks because it makes it seem like if you don’t have an answer or if you get it wrong, you will end up living in a van down by the river (for the record: I love vans…and rivers). That question sucks because, well, it just sucks.

Listen, if you are starting your senior year with no idea “what you want to do with your life,” congratulations, you’re completely normal. You see, when your parents and grandparents were kids that question made sense. At that time, not only was it normal to go through life completely devoted to a single career, but the path to that career was also pretty straightforward.

Things are different now.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average time a person spends at a job is only 4.4 years. 4.4 years! Think about that. That’s roughly the same amount of time you spent watching Vine videos last week.

Ok seriously, what does this mean for you? It means: in your lifetime you will work in a bunch of different jobs or careers on hundreds of different projects. And if you approach your path to these careers and projects by trying to answer the single question, “What do you want to do with your life after you graduate?,” you are setting yourself up for stress, anxiety, and uncertainty.

It’s time to ditch that question like I ditched trying to look cool while dancing to Miley Cyrus.

As you approach this new school year and prepare to make some big decisions about your future, replace the question, “What should I do with my life when I finish high school?” with four new questions:

  1. What do I want to have?
  2. Where do I want to go?
  3. What do I want to do?
  4. Who do I want to be?

Answering these questions isn’t a one-time thing, either. It’s something you can do every day.

Need help getting started?

Check out adMISSION POSSIBLE: The “Dare to Be Yourself” Guide for Getting Into the Best Colleges for You for tips and action plans to help you focus on who you are, what you love, and what you want from your college experience, throughout the application process.


If you are constantly asking yourself these questions—searching for answers that are right for you and adjusting as you learn and grow—you will find your answers evolving with experience and exposure to new things.

As you start this school year, I want you to ask yourself:

What do I want to have? What do I want to take away from this year? What kind of grades do I want? Why is that important? Is that important?

Where do I want to go? Where do I want to travel? Who do I want to visit? Why is going to that place important to me? What will I take away from that experience?

What do I want to do? What kind of experiences do I want to have? How can I leave a legacy at school and in my community? What kind of projects am I interested in? What kind of careers would give me the opportunity to work on projects like that? Do I need college to find a career I love?

Who do I want to be? How can I become the kind of person I want to be? How can I get involved with the things I want to be involved with? Why are those things important to me?

So instead of dreading the upcoming school year because you don’t know what lies around the corner for you, go back with excitement knowing that you’re creating your own experiences this year. You are in control. Every single day. You’re doing the things you want to do on your terms. You’re having the experiences you want to have and enjoying the year the way you want to enjoy it.

Ask yourself those four questions every single day. Make adjustments, learn, grow, and then smile as you walk down the red carpet knowing that you don’t have to answer the questions everybody’s asking you. Except the one about your dress. It’s Versace…it’s always Versace.


Coming soon!

Learn how you can create your own path to a successful future with Ryan Porter’s new book, Make Your Own Lunch: How to Live an Epically Epic Life through Work, Travel, Wonder, and (maybe) College.

Find it in the College Countdown store on April 1, 2014!


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At age 21, Ryan Porter dropped out of college to try to answer the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?”. The quest for an answer brought him to Japan, Slovakia, Honduras, Austria, Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Czech Republic, and, eventually, back to college. He quickly discovered that there’s more than one question to ask as we make decisions about our futures, and that there are a bunch of answers.

He wrote the book Make Your Own Lunch to help young people ask new questions, explore lots of possibilities, and discover exciting answers that are right for them.

See Make Your Own Lunch: How to Live an Epically Epic Life through Work, Travel, Wonder, and (maybe) College in the College Countdown store.