8th Grade: Get ready for the big time.

This year you will begin thinking about your plans for high school and life after graduation. Take a deeper look into what the next five years and beyond might look like.

Start the conversation.

The adults in your life-family, teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors-are there to help you channel your ideas and interest into personal goals. Get comfortable with these types of conversations, because you’re going to have a lot of them in the next five years!

Next Steps

  • Talk to an adult about what you like to do, what you’re good at and what you want for your future.
  • Ask questions. Ask for advice. Listen.
  • Consider your interests. Check out related books or academic publications. Read!
  • Check out this Next Steps guide: Talking to Your Counselor – Questions to Ask Your Middle School Counselor.
  • Ask your counselor what programs your local high school is known for. What does the school do better than any other? For instance, it may have an award-winning welding program or marching band.

Whether your thing is sports, cars, art, 4-H, robots, or just helping other people, there’s probably a club or group you can join. Not sure what your thing is? Ask your school counselor or favorite teacher for advice.

Next Steps

  • Take advantage of any opportunity to learn a new skill.
  • Start thinking about activities you can do (or continue to do) next year in high school. Visit the Idaho High School Activities Association website for ideas.
  • Talk to your school counselor about career and technical student organizations. These organizations give you a chance to develop skills and compete for awards at state and national levels.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities in your area and sign up for one that might help you explore a career or job function that interests you.

While you can always change the plan, making choices now with your future in mind could help guide you toward the career(s) you see yourself pursuing.

Next Steps

  • Use the Next Steps 8th Grade Pathway Plan activities to start thinking about your goals and what you’ll need to do to achieve them.
  • Talk to your teachers or counselor about what coursework you should do to help you reach your goals and provide a range of future options.
  • If you meet the state graduation requirements, and those from your local school district, your diploma will meet the minimum credits for admission to all Idaho public colleges and universities. Learn more about Idaho’s graduation requirements.
  • Learn more about career training you can start in high school. Many Idaho schools offer classes that can lead to professional certifications before graduation and jump-start your career. Some programs take all four high school years to complete, so you’ll want to talk to your guidance counselor to make sure you get started in time.
  • Consider whether internships or apprenticeships might aid your career plans. There are opportunities in many different industries to learn valuable skills while earning a paycheck and sometimes college credits.

Now is the time to decide what type of high school student you want to be. Make an effort to practice good study habits and hone your test-taking skills.

Next Steps

  • Learn how to develop good study habits and test-taking skills.
  • Get familiar with the grade point average (GPA) metric – how it’s calculated and how you can improve yours.
  • Find out how your GPA can affect which type of college you might be able to get into.
  • If your GPA is low, you’ll need to score higher on entrance exams to get into college. Your best bet is to work hard at keeping your GPA up throughout high school.

Use the tools on Next Steps Idaho to consider your options. Use the interactive activities to figure out what kinds of jobs you might be like and could be good at. Research specific career options and learn about the education you might need to pursue the job you want. Make a plan to track progress on (and regularly evaluate) your goals. Once you’ve chosen a few potential careers, identify the financial needs those choices may require.

Next Steps

Life after high school might mean going to a four-year college or enrolling in a technical training program or figuring out a way to continue your education while you work

Next Steps

  • Learn more about apprenticeships. Consider the benefits of going to community college.
  • Figure out if the career you want requires an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree and start to look at what Idaho’s institutions have to offer.
  • Look into Idaho’s technical programs. (once referred to as trade programs), many of which can be started in high school and continued at the college level or lead to professional certification.
  • Research career opportunities in the military, where you can serve, get career training and earn money to help pay for college

Challenge yourself! Explore new topics and genres. Talk about what you’re reading with your teachers and friends. Get recommendations from a librarian or online

Next Steps

  • Check out Goodreads’ “8th Grade Reading List” and see which books you’ve read.
  • Keep a list of the next three books you plan to read. As you check books off your list, be sure and add new ones.
  • Consider picking up a book about careers that may interest you. For example, if you’re considering a career in architecture, read about famous architects.
  • Challenge yourself and read a book or two from the “9th Grade Reading List.”

Career Readiness Resources

8th Grade
Pathway Plan

This year you will begin thinking about your plans for high school and life after graduation. You will take a deeper look into what the next five years and beyond might look like.

Two students wearing headphones working on computers.
Two students sitting at a table looking at their smartphones.

Explore Career Clusters

Chances are good you may not know exactly what job you’d like to do when you grow up. Rather than trying to home in on one specific job, you can start to narrow your focus by looking at career clusters—loosely grouped occupations that share common features. It’s one approach to investigating sets of jobs that correspond to your skills and interests.
A man in a mechanical workshop reviewing content on a tablet.

Learn How You Learn

Taking stock of how we learn best and our preferred modes of learning can sometimes help to clarify career and education pathways. Answer 30 questions. Then see the learning styles you favor and the learning modes and techniques that suit you best.

What’s in Store
Next Year

You’re just getting started on planning your future. Each year you get closer to graduation, you’ll learn more about your education and career options. Planning all along the way will help you achieve your goals.

Three students reviewing contents of a binder in a school standing by lockers.