“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”


Photo of students walking in a university hallway. Photo by Vasyl Dolmatov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sometime in the next few years, everyone expects us to have plotted out on a map out what we want to do in college and/or in a career, and what our life’s plans are.

But it’s not just others that expect this of us. We expect ourselves to know how to be an adult by the time we graduate, at the very latest. We expect ourselves to draw a red path for our future selves to follow on this map, and we think it’s best to do so earlier rather than later so that we can follow this path during high school, to maximize our chances of acceptance into top schools.

That said, we come into high school around age fourteen (some of us younger, some of us older; most of us not nearly prepared enough to know what we want to do forever). At age fourteen, we’re barely teenagers. We don’t have the mental maturity that comes with adulthood. We won’t get it until we turn twenty-five, when our brains stop growing. We can’t expect ourselves to know everything right away—though some of us might (and if that’s you, that’s awesome!), a lot of us might not. 

Despite that, we have to move forward in life. We might not know who or where we want to be just yet, but we have to take a step towards getting there. So if we don’t know how to do that, we might need some help. If you need help…

Enter your knight in shining armor: BigFuture. You may have heard of it. You have certainly heard of CollegeBoard, which it—along with the SAT and AP—is associated with. BigFuture is a tool you can use to plan your future. It has plenty of resources—live events, articles, quizzes, and more—to help you work to decide what you want to do in your future. 

Photo of a workplace. Photo by Vasyl Dolmatov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are quite a few paths you can follow after high school. Some paths include college: you can choose to attend college the fall after you graduate, you can take a gap year and start college a year later, you can choose to attend college years down the line, and much more. Some paths don’t involve college. You might not know what route you want to take just yet, and that’s alright. You can move between paths at any time.

If you choose to attend college at some point, BigFuture can help you through the processes of deciding what schools you want to apply to, deciding what career you might want to work (or even just a career field), deciding what you want to major in, applying for college, applying for scholarships and other financial aid, and leaving for college.

BigFuture also has a checklist for applying to colleges. As you complete more of its steps, you unlock opportunities to be entered into its scholarship opportunities: they do monthly drawings for multiple prizes of $500 to $40,000. In the past, these scholarship opportunities were only available to seniors; now, sophomores and juniors are eligible to win them too.

Not planning on attending college? Take a look at BigFuture’s career resources: their career search feature and career quiz, among other things, may help you. Not ready to apply or attend just yet? Again, you can refer to their career resources if you’re considering getting a job during that time. Most of their college resources should be able to help regardless of when in your life you apply (though some of their advice is specific to high-schoolers, features like the college search and college list aren’t).

A checklist. Photo by Dmitry Kovalchuk/Getty Images/iStockphoto.

As someone who had no clue what to major in or what job they wanted to work after getting their degree, I found BigFuture a big help. I knew I wanted to go to college, but decided not to work with a college counselor for financial reasons. I still needed to keep myself on track, though! BigFuture helped me do that, with regards to my applications and financial aid. Their college list and search features (which together work to classify your schools as reaches, safeties, or matches) helped me narrow down my list of schools, and their career quiz helped me narrow down my dream career field (aerospace). I’ve been accepted into several schools already, and its checklist feature helped significantly with me remembering to fill out the FAFSA and CSS (financial aid forms). I know what I want out of my future and how to get there.

Through its informative articles and live events, comprehensive college list, insightful career quiz, and life-saving scholarship checklist, BigFuture helped me find and take a step towards the future I want. If you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your future, I’d recommend visiting their website. BigFuture is not an easy fix—self-reflection is still an important part of this process—but as a tool, it might help you too.