Career and College Pathways

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College and Career Pathways: You have Options! 

After high school, different paths lead to different types of credentials. You may need one (or several) of these credentials, depending on your career interests and goals. 



People who go straight into the workplace usually do not have formal credentials beyond a high school diploma. However, some people on this path might complete an apprenticeship or other on-the-job training. 

  • Certificate for completion of training 

  • Apprenticeship 

CTE (Technical) College 

Most technical colleges award a certificate to show completion of a program of study. Some also award associate degrees. 

  • Certificate or certification for completion of a program (one year or less) 

  • Associate degree (two years) 


Traditional Two-Year College 

Most community colleges award certificates or associate degrees, depending on the program. On average, an associate degree takes two years to complete for students who can go full-time. Students can continue earning a bachelor’s degree at some colleges. In two years, students typically earn an associate degree. 

  • Associate degree 


Traditional Four-Year College 

Most four-year colleges award bachelor’s degrees. On average, a bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete for students who can go full-time. The two most common types of bachelor’s degrees are a B.S. (Bachelor of Science) or a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)
• Bachelor’s degree 

Graduate School 

Many careers require specialized training and education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Students attend graduate or professional school to receive this training and earn a graduate or advanced degree. Some advanced degrees include: 

  • Master’s degree: most common are M.S. (Science) or M.A. (Arts)

  • Business degree (M.B.A. for Master of Business Arts)

  • Medical degree (M.D. for Medical Doctor 

  • Law degree (J.D. for Juris Doctor) 

  • Doctorate degree (Ph.D. for Doctor of Philosophy) 


National Service 

  • Military Options: ROTC, Military Academies, or Enlistment 

  • AmeriCorps


Technical & Specialty Colleges 

If you are a student with a clear career goal and would like to quickly get into the job market, consider technical or other specialty programs. 

Technical colleges vary widely in majors, length of programs, cost, and other characteristics, but they have one thing in common: an emphasis on hands-on training for a specific career. 

Typical fields of study include: 

Health care (practical nursing, home health aide). 

Computers, technology (electronics, auto mechanics, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning). 

Culinary arts. 


And more. 

The specific degree or certificate may vary depending on your field, but two-year associate degrees are common. You should visit the campus and research it as any other option. 

There are public/non-profit technical and specialty colleges and for-profit schools. Both of these have aspects that you should factor into your decision-making. 

Key Considerations 

Public/Non-Profit Schools

  • Requires careful consideration. Financial aid is sometimes limited. Because of the specialized nature of technical programs, it may be difficult (or even impossible) to change majors without starting over. 

  • You should do as much research as possible. 

  • For example, read about career fields, shadow someone in a chosen field, speak with local employers, etc. 

For-Profit Schools 

  • Be a savvy shopper. 

  • Some technical schools are for-profit colleges and have been the subject of federal investigations for improper recruiting and financial aid practices. You are encouraged to research the reputation and financial stability of any technical college you consider. 

Check out this resource from the U.S. Department of Education for advice on how to find the perfect career college or technical school:

Military Pathways 

Reserve Officer Training Corps 

ROTC is a military officer training program offered at 1,700 colleges nationwide. Cadets agree to serve in the military post-college (usually 4-5 years) in exchange for potentially significant financial aid for their college education and a guaranteed post-college career. Explore branch(es) of interest to learn the application process (including Army ROTC, Navy-option ROTC, Air Force ROTC, and Marine-option ROTC). NOTE: The ROTC scholarship application is in addition to the college application. It has its own deadline.



If you are interested in enlisting, visit Today’s Military website to explore what enlisting means and which branch you want to pursue. 

  1. You will need to take the ASVAB exam. Prepare by visiting their website to learn more about this test and get help with test preparation. 

  2. Meet with a recruiter. Visit the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) website for more information. You will report to MEPS if you decide to enlist. You will spend the day at a military processing station (MEPS). That is where you will take the ASVAB, have a physical exam, and meet with a career counselor. If you are accepted, you will take the oath of enlistment. 

  3. Finally, you will await orders for basic training. You should receive orders within a few weeks. You would get orders within a year if you enrolled in the delayed entry program. 


Military Academies 

There are five federal United States service academies, each with its own application and process. Visit each academy’s website for details: 

The United States Military Academy (USMA). 

The United States Naval Academy (USNA). 

The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). 

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). 

The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). 

This application process is rigorous. Be early and thorough. The process must begin during your junior year of high school. You will be required to take the ACT or SAT. Prepare by: 

  1. Retake exams if you score below 540 (SAT) or 26 (ACT) on any section. 

  2. Get help from your local mentor. 

  3. Schedule your medical exam EARLY. 

  4. Train for your Candidate Fitness Exam. 

  5. Treat the nomination interview like a job interview. 


Benefits of a College Experience through the Military 


ROTC & Academies 


  • Students graduate as an officer (higher salary and leadership skills). 

  • Significant/All costs paid. 

  • Focus on academic and physical development. 

  • Long-standing tradition and honor. 

  • The GI Bill helps pay for future education (can be transferred to spouse and children). 



  • The military pays for needed training/ education and provides a place to live. 

  • The GI Bill helps pay for future education (can be transferred to spouse and children). 

  • Guaranteed job placement after successful boot camp and training experiences. 

  • Sense of honor, duty, service, patriotism, sought after skills, leadership, and experience.


If you have any questions, concerns or need support through any of these options. Please do not hesitate to send me an email [email protected] or schedule an appointment