Soon-to-be high school seniors should research postsecondary options this summer, if they haven't already.

Students who haven't already visited colleges they are interested in should make it a priority to do so this summer, says one counselor.

By Alexandra PannoniJune 1, 2015 | 8:00 a.m. EDT+ More

Teens who have reached the end of junior year and don't know what they want to do after high schoolshouldn't panic. 

"We have plenty who know exactly what they want to do and then we have plenty who are walking around here like, 'I have no idea,'" says Steve Schneider, a school counselor at Sheboygan South High School in Wisconsin.

But rising seniors unsure about their future have work to do this summer. 

Students who have no idea what they want to do after high school need to spend some time in self-reflection, thinking critically about what they care about and their passions before they start considering what path they will take, says Schneider.

One way they could do this is by trying to get a summer job in a field they think they might be interested in, he says. 

The Web offers many free resources for students to explore different careers, says Karen Rubican, a school counselor at Canon-McMillan High School in Canonsburg, PennsylvaniaO*Net Online, for example, offers information on hundreds of jobs and is sponsored by the federal government. 

She says the career should dictate a student's next steps. Once a student knows what kind of education is required, the educational options become more apparent. 

If a student knows what career they have in mind, they should use this summer to explore and research postsecondary options, she says. 

Rising seniors slow to start making plans for life after high school should pay attention to the following advice about what to do this summer to prepare for each path. 

[Follow this timeline of key steps for completing college applications.]

• Attend a community college or four-year institution: Soon-to-be seniors who want to continue their education in college hould visit the schools they are interested in this summer, says Schneider.

"The application process is going to begin fairly quickly when they come back from summer vacation so that's a must, I think, if they haven't taken the time to do it," he says. "Because you can ask all kinds of questions when you are there visiting as well. If you are really serious about that, that's a serious activity that needs to be done."

Those who can't get to the school in person could research school online, he says.

• Learn a trade: Students considering learning a particular trade, like weldin or carpentry, should also explore firsthan the options that are available, says Rubican.

At a local trade school in her community, students have the opportunity to sit in on an actual class, like cosmetology, to see what it's like, she says. "It definitely has increased student understanding of what those opportunities look like."

[Learn about how a gap year can make a student successful.]

• Join the military: Students thinking about joining the armed forces should contact a recruiter to learn more about this path, says Schenider. Then students have time to carefully consider whether it's for them.

In Schenider's community, students who aren't 18 yet can participate in a boot camp like experience to get a taste of what joining the military will be like. 

Regardless of the postsecondary path rising seniors are considering, they should use the time they have this summer wisely.

Whether it's a technical college, four year college, community college or a certain job, students have two months of time – that they presumably have some flexibility with – to nurture hat kernel of an idea, he says.

"If they have an idea that they just haven't really fleshed out yet, they should go with that idea in the summer," he says. 

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