Why You Should Finalise Your Career Plan Before Exams

Joanna Tresa

Last Updated: November 17, 2023
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If you’re in Class 10 or 12, you’re bound to relate to this:

It’s “ADVICE” season!

The fam’s got you focused on exams and nothing else. Meanwhile, everyone from your uncles and aunts to the local gossip is hounding you with questions about the future. “Beta, bade hokar kya karoge?” You, on the other hand, barely have a plan for tomorrow, let alone ten years from now.

Hard relate?

This has got to be the biggest turning point in your life. Pretty soon, you’re going to make decisions that will dictate what your future will look like. And to make that future bright, you have to get these exams right. But which one do you focus on first? Exams? Future planning? Sounds like a chicken-and-egg situation, doesn’t it? Allow us to clarify it for you!

As humans who are constantly growing and evolving, we like to think about the future, but never really act on it. Because grandma said, “Focus on your present, and the future will follow,” we’d typically want to go with the you-only-live-once saying and make your memories of the present count.
But when it comes to major decision-making moments like planning your career ahead, grandma’s advice is often misinterpreted – we enjoy our young days of highschool, make mistakes, learn and fail and learn again, and pray to the universe to guide you to your dream career. 

But then in reality, it just won’t happen. 

Because it’s YOU who needs to act on it, right from the highschool.

And we’re here to tell you why and how. 

why early career planning is good?

Why Plan For A Career From High School?

Sometimes, the best way to reach your destination is to start early – because god knows how long you’d be stuck in traffic midway or you found a pretty cat crossing the road and decided to take it home. 

The same applies to planning your career ahead.  

Selecting the right career is not as simple as it looks. During high school, students are mostly focused on finding the best college without even thinking about where they will end up after completing college. High school can be a wild ride – you make memories, you need to plan your college admissions, and you need to narrow down your path when it comes to choosing a stream. And honestly, there’s no better time than this to set up a few building blocks of career planning. Because you’d be buying yourself 2 or more years for planning your career path.

It’s never too early to start dreaming big about your future career—even if you’re still rocking the high school vibes. In today’s turbo-charged job market, where competition is the name of the game, you’ll be better off sketching out your career plans so you can confidently stride into the future. You can think of it as creating your own room of opportunities without having to wait for future job openings.

Benefits of Early Career Planning

Exploring and Learning About Yourself

Understanding what you enjoy—and what you’re good at—is the first step in exploring careers. If you don’t know what you want to do, the question is, “What do you like to learn about?” For example, if you really like science, what do you enjoy about it? Is it the lab experiments that change colours in your beaker, or is it research? It’s important to think about what you like to do, because work will eventually be a big part of your life ahead. The whole purpose of planning ahead is so that when you become a working professional, you wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work.

To help you get started, think about the things you enjoy doing and learning about. If you aren’t sure yet, explore different types of hobbies. Just don’t shy away from trying something new and step outside your comfort zone. 

preparing for exams in advance

Preparing For Your Entrance Exams In Advance

Let’s say you’ve finally figured out a career that interests you. Now that that’s ticked off your checklist, you can now start preparing for your career-specific exams. That way, you don’t just save time on preparing for every random exam post high school, but you can dedicate more time towards these specific exams and entrance tests so acing it will be a piece of cake. 

Reduced Distraction, Improved Focus

Like we earlier mentioned, you’re quite literally buying time by planning early for your career. And with the time in hand, it gives you enough room to start aligning your focus and gradually cut down on distractions like multiple career explorations, peer pressure, and information or advice overloading from your family and loved ones. Because once you’ve managed to decide on a career, you’ll undoubtedly snap out of misleading routes and give in your focus towards upskilling and learning. 

Career Planning Before The Big Guns Shoot: Why It’s Crucial To Plan Before Final Exams

One of the most preferred routes taken by parents and students is the idea of planning for a career after completion of board exams. The outcome of this, however, leads to last-minute career decisions and go-with-the flow approaches that can often lead to poor decision-making. 

But how do we tackle this?

We need to first understand that once the final exams are done and dusted, students enter a zone where they want to sit back and relax to take a break from all the studying. This mindset can either make or break your career planning routes, and the safest yet not-very-commonly taken path is to plan way before the exam dates slide in. To do that, let’s understand a few setbacks that are seen among parents and students who are actively involved in the process:

  • Career plans are made after final exams so the student can proceed with narrowing down their path based on their final exam scores.
  • The student’s mindset becomes a whirlwind of confusion post exams, which clouds their planning process.
  • Most students end up pursuing conventional fields like engineering, medical, and law as a result of last-minute confusion or being in a state of no-choice (hence, choosing widely popular fields becomes a go-to strategy). 
  • With a mindset of career confusion, students could tend to perform below their actual abilities, which in turn affects their career choices.

Given the job market is on the brink of saturation in conventional fields, it becomes a challenge to find the right degree and college based on their interests and abilities. But with a pre-planned route, one can only imagine the relief of not just acing the finals without a clouded head, but also giving yourself the time to further prepare yourself for the path chosen (like your entrance exams and college admissions).

Exams Can Wait, Career Planning Cannot

While you’re focused on exams, college applications might have already opened up. Entrance exam registrations dates have also been announced. The sooner you know what you’re going to do next, the easier it will be to meet these application deadlines and have a plan ready right after boards. The last thing you want to do is finish your finals only to realise you missed a great window of opportunity because the application window shut.

While it’s natural to be caught up in the immediate challenge of exams, it’s equally important to cast an eye towards the future opportunities for your career. The process of college applications and entrance exam registrations is not just about securing a spot in a university; it’s about shaping the trajectory of your career. So the sooner you define your goals and aspirations, the smoother the transition will be from academia to the professional world.

Delaying your career decisions will only lead to missing on college application deadlines and little time to explore more options. Many universities have limited seats, and the competition is fierce. By delaying your career planning, you’ll only end up limiting your options.

And that is why we’d suggest you this – have a well-thought-out plan right after your final exams to give a sense of direction and purpose. This could set the stage for a less stressful transition into the next phase of your career journey. Consider the time as an investment in your future. While exams are undoubtedly important, they are just a stepping stone to a larger, more expansive world of possibilities. The sooner you plan your career journey, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions with the right guidance. So, while exams can wait for a moment, your career – with its numerous options and opportunities – cannot.

Benefits of Career Planning Before Exams

  • You get more time to explore your interests.
  • You can have a no-rush talk with your counsellor, parents, and peers to help you better understand your strengths and skills.
  • You get more time to try out your choices from hands-on experiences through internships, volunteering, training and apprenticeships, online learning, and project building. It can also help you identify any skills or knowledge gaps that you need to address before you enter the workforce. 
  • It helps you stay focused and motivated during your studies. 
  • You get ample time to start building your professional network by attending career fairs, joining LinkedIn groups, and connecting with people on social media.
  • You can assess yourself – What are you passionate about? What kind of work environment do you thrive in? What are your career goals? 
  • Most importantly, by planning early on, you have enough time to prepare yourself for upcoming entrance exams so your focus isn’t deviated towards the thought of deciding on your career (because by then, you’ll already have it planned and figured out!)

So when you have a clear idea of what you want to do after your finals, you’ll be more likely to put in the effort required to succeed in your classes.

Know Yourself Better to Do Better

Now, the journey to a fulfilling career begins with self-discovery. And while it’s okay to figure it out by yourself, it’s also okay to seek professional help. And if you’re planning your career with some expert help (which we’re here for), you’re bound to do a career test. Career tests will do deep-dives into your interests and tells you what you’re likely to excel in and what you’ll need to work more on. The best part? You can plan your studies better than you originally planned it out.

The main goal of career and psychometric assessments isn’t just about finding a job; it’s about aligning your passion with your profession. You’ll better understand what subjects interest you, what you’re good at, what aspect needs improvement, and what career best suits your aspirations. For instance, if your interest lies in geography while math is a no-no for you, you can spend a little more time studying math and rewarding yourself with a lesson of geography right after! You can try out our pscyhometric assessment if you’d like, and get some expert insights which would just be a phone call away!

The Good Grades Debate – Is It A Motivator Or A Barrier?

According to a HBR report, one thing that’s evident in all this focus on grades is that there’s no real emphasis on learning—the true purpose of education. 

And that’s where we need to realise that education – although meant to hone future leaders of tomorrow – is seen more as just a prerequisite to get into top colleges than a process of making learning a passion. And that’s where most people fail to understand this, because with every generation comes an understanding that education is a ticket to high-paying jobs and getting into top universities. 

But at what cost?

While there are a lot of studies and debates around this, it’s important for us to understand that it’s up to us if we want to consider the goal of having good grades as a barrier or a motivator. And given the pressure instilled among 9th and 10th grade students due to board exams, good grades are seen more as a mere goal than a way to open up a plethora of opportunities in the process of learning. 

Gone are the days of memorising a 5-page essay or a lengthy mathematical derivation for the heck of it – it’s time to hit the reset button on perceiving good grades in a neutral light and understand that good grades isn’t everything, but it sure is something. 

How You Can Get Started

Self Assessment

Sometimes, the best way to learn about yourself is through a self-assessment. Although a better way to do that would be through a psychometric assessment that can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, self-assessing yourself can give you an idea about how you feel about yourself and what you think best suits you. 

Here are some common questions to start with:

  • What school subjects do you enjoy? Why?
  • What extracurricular activities do you enjoy? Why?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want to have in the future?
  • What major goals do you have for your life and career?

Get Some Hands-On Experience

When it comes to career planning for high school students, gaining hands-on experience takes the spotlight. Because let’s face it, figuring out your ideal job fit is like trying on shoes – you won’t know until you walk a mile in them. Some ways you could get started with gaining experience would be through school clubs, inter school events, part-time jobs during vacation, workshops at school or your locality, volunteering, and tutoring. 

getting hands on experience in high school

Talk To Your School Counsellor

While your school counsellor is always on board to help you tackle some exam stress or situations at school, you can also consider career counselling and book a session with your school counsellor to discuss career options. Your school counsellor would be more than delighted to have a student who’s aspiring to plan ahead and choose the right career for their future. 

Plan Your Career In Advance With Mentoria

We think the saying, “It’s the early bird that gets the worm!” is an absolutely relatable quote when you think about planning your career well in advance. And to all highschoolers and their parents out there – it’s still not too late. If you need some expert advice, Mentoria can be your hand-holding assistant to help you plan your career in the best way possible. Because we believe that time is money, so why not buy yourself some time to decide on the career of your dreams? Get on a call with us anytime you feel like you need some career advice or tips, and we’ll be more than happy to help transform lives from clutter to clarity.