The Senior Experience


Just take it one day at a time!

This month we are going to explore 6 different pathways you can take after high school. We want you to be set up for a career path that allows you to achieve your goals and support yourself and others in your life. However, we don't believe the same path is best for everyone, so you get to choose!


  • Learn the variety of pathways available after high school
  • Measure your interest level for each pathway



Set up a time to check-in with your Mentoring Specialist concerning graduation status and desired post-secondary education plan.  If there has been an update or change in their plan – share that with your Mentoring Specialist.


We had an awesome time at our Senior Experience kick-off event last week! If you weren't able to make it and would like to set up a time to go over what you missed, just let your Mentoring Specialist know.

Future Planning: November

Workforce development program or straight into the workforce

While this option may be a bit more risky than other paths, with a focused plan, you can start a successful career path without more formal education. Consider:

  • Internships: if you have some idea of jobs or careers you’d like to explore, internships can be a good opportunity. You can use Linkedin, Indeed, and Chegg to explore opportunities
  • AmeriCorp: you do not make a lot of money, but it can provide meaningful experience to launch you into future careers
  • Job Corps Has one location in Denver. You live on-site, they train you in specific careers, and all expenses are paid.
  • Goodwill offers a training program to get you into banking jobs
  • Colorado Workforce Centers provide a variety of employment and job searching services. You can find some things online but the best is to find the closest in-person center and stop by.
  • If interested in starting your own business (entrepreneurial), Dave Ramsey has a good course
  • Working up towards management in entry level jobs 
  • Look into salary ranges of managers where you work or are thinking about getting an entry level job. Ex. Restaurants, retail, entertainment (movie theaters, jumpoline, boondocks, etc.). Think through if that salary is something you could support yourself and a family on. Weigh that with the hours you are expected to work, job responsibilities, stress level, etc. to decide if that is the path you would like to take.  
  • Ask to talk to your manager or a manager at a place you are thinking of to ask them what their experience has been like. What are the pros and cons from their perspective. 
  • Read this article for tips and things to keep in mind

Trade school, apprenticeship, or certificate program

Do you enjoy more hands-on learning? These options allow for a less formal learning process and programs range from 6-18 months in length. This is one of the quickest ways to get into a decent paying job. Consider:

Trade programs.

  1. Check out the trade programs offered at technical schools in the Denver Metro area such as Emily Griffith and Warren Tech (other schools include Pickens Technical College and Pima Medical Center).
  2. Master’s Apprentice was started by SOY to provide six weeks of soft skills training. Most participants have multiple job offers at the end of the 6 weeks making at least $40,000/year with a path to be making $60,000 after a few years.
  • Certificate programs have some overlap with trades but check out course catalogs at Arapahoe Community College or Community College of Aurora
  • Career Advance Colorado is offering fully paid for programs in industries we are going to "desperately" need workers in. Things like construction, education, and nursing
  • If having some extra personal development and support as you pursue a certificate would be helpful, check out Crosspurpose
  • Fully online certificate or four-year degree with lots of extra support can be found at: Advance EDU

Community college

A community college is the most affordable way to start your college journey. Many programs mentioned above can be completed at a community college. However, you can also earn a 2-year general associate degree or start the first two years of a specific track program and transfer for a bachelor's degree after 2 years!

Thanks to different grants, scholarships, and aid, the majority of SOY mentees won't pay anything out of pocket for tuition and books at a community college. Courses can be online or in-person, and there's typically not a minimum GPA or testing requirement.

This is a great option for someone who desires to continue their education but maybe not sure what you want to do long-term yet.

The main community colleges in the Denver metro area are. . .

Arapahoe Community College

Community College of Denver

Community College of Aurora

Red Rocks Community College

Front Range Community College

Four-year college or university

If you want a bachelor's degree and/or a career field that requires it, a four-year college is a great route to go.

  • Cost is often a main concern you might have. Use this cost calculator to get a better idea, but this doesn't account for financial aid and scholarships you'll likely receive. So it is also helpful to look at Federal Aid estimation.
  • There is also potential funding for mentees in Colorado who are not U.S. citizens (download the Dreamers Resource Guide to learn more).
  • Do NOT let cost deter you from applying! Most applications are free and you can see how much financial aid you'd get. Other scholarships can help cover the difference. You can decide once you see all your options.
  • Each college has minimum gpa, test scores, etc. so check out a couple school’s websites that you are thinking of to see if you meet those. 
  1. Keep in mind that if you attend a college out of state, tuition will be more (exceptions are New Mexico, Nebraska, and Hawaii)
  2. The main schools in Colorado our mentee's consider include CU (Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Anschutz medical), CSU (Fort Collins, Pueblo, CSU global online, and Denver SPUR campus), UNC (Greeley), Metro (Denver), DU (Denver), Western (Gunnison), CMU (Grand Junction)


A lot of young people do very well with this pathway if you are unsure what next steps you want to do, but would thrive in a structured environment, would like future promotion opportunities and/or college fully paid for, and a good amount of life-long benefits even after leaving the military. However, don’t just join for the “benefits”, you must also consider the cost knowing that you can get deployed and/or stationed in combat situations. Check out these resources to explore more:

Gap Year

This is a good option if you want to work, save up, and take time to explore options further. If you're still connected with your mentor and they are available to continue meeting, you can stay a part of SOY during this gap year. We will facilitate goal-setting to set some clear expectations and a pathway to help you figure out what you want to do long-term.

Action Steps

Now that you have seen all the options, discuss the following:

  • Do you know which option you for sure want to do? Or at least a top 2-3? If not, that is ok! Keep giving it some thought and plan with your mentor on what would help you decide. If you are unsure, just keep following the monthly newsletters which will help you get some applications submitted which never hurts to keep your options open (you can always decline attending somewhere once accepted) 
  • You might have other specific questions or concerns. Fill in the sentence... “I would like to do ______ but I am unsure about ______.” Or “I know I want to _______ but I don’t know _________.” Feel free to explore those questions together and/or talk to your mentoring specialist for ideas on how to find answers to those questions. 
  • If helpful, set up an appointment with an admissions counselor at a school you're considering. Set up a couple of campus visits, such as a community college and a four-year university. Or talk to someone in the desired field if you are thinking trade school or straight to the workforce.
  • We get an extreme discount on Discover Pathwaze which provides a more personalized assessment and consultation to explore different career options. If you haven't done this already and you're interested, please let your Mentoring Specialist know. SOY will cover the cost.
  1. If you don’t want to do a formal assessment, try a more informal tool.
  • If your heart is set on military, gap year, or directly entering the workforce, some of the future monthly newsletters might not be perfectly applicable. Let your mentoring specialist know and we’ll give you some alternative next steps.  

Education Department

I am Angela Maher, the Education Manager at Save Our Youth. If you missed the October Newsletter you can see it on the Senior Experience page by visiting our website.

Senior Experience Support Page


Each month, check your inbox for "The Senior Experience" newsletter. Here are the topics we'll cover. Each newsletter will come in our email and will soon be available on our website for an easy reference.

  • October: Complete SOY survey, confirm graduation status, intro to options after high school and deadlines, Discover Pathwaze, ACT/SAT 
  • November: Reality of different post-secondary options and resources for them
  • December: Applying for colleges, info on being a first-gen student, intro to FAFSA
  • January: Completing the FAFSA and applying for other scholarships
  • February: Checking that FAFSA and scholarships apps are completed, check-in on college applications, and deeper dive on budgeting (life skill)
  • March: Job prep (resume, interviewing, etc) and intro to our scholar’s program
  • April: How to finish senior year strong, upcoming SOY dates, and overcoming common barriers faced after high school
  • May: Graduation Celebration! We'll celebrate what you have accomplished, what to do if things did not go as planned (ex. Find out is not graduating on time), and looking ahead to what to focus on in the summer


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