Finding Your Passion

Most high school students are searching for their passion – that thing that sparks their curiosity and helps them choose a college and career. High school is the perfect time to start exploring your interests and figuring out what motivates you. Understanding yourself and your values will help you make big decisions later, especially when choosing a college and career. If you’re ready to find your passion, we’ve got some helpful tips to get you started. 

Recognize your Strengths

Own your strengths! Recognize the unique qualities you bring to this world. What comes easy to you? What are some of your unique personality traits? Do any of these characteristics translate into an area of study? A career? There is something out there for everyone. Don’t be afraid to pursue a dream, even if others might think it’s crazy. You have everything you need to become the best version of yourself.

List Everything that Brings You Joy

Whether you have many interests, or just a few, everyone can identify something that sparks joy. Make a list of everything that makes you happy, and then determine if those activities could become lifelong careers. Think about the hobbies you enjoyed as a child and how they might translate into your adult life. Follow your curiosity, and you may find your passion! 

Choose What Makes You Happy

Some people choose a career because they can make a lot of money. While supporting yourself is important, money doesn’t always equal happiness. Joy and personal fulfillment feel better than any amount of money you could ever make. If your passion isn’t known for its high salary, don’t give up. Have faith in your choice because the world is waiting for someone like you to try something extraordinary.

Be Patient

You will find your passion, but it takes time. You will have ups and downs, and that’s OK. When in doubt, ask yourself: What makes me happy? What kind of impact do I want to have on the world? What legacy do I want to leave behind? Then trust yourself. Everything will work out.

These tips are just a starting point to discovering your values and passions. Enjoy the journey and happy soul searching!

6 Tips to Help You Set Goals

It’s easy to move through high school just going through the motions. If you have big dreams about college or a career and don’t know how to reach them, it’s time to set some goals! But first, you need to learn how to set a goal. Here are six tips to get you started!

1. Keep goals specific.

Details are key when you’re setting goals. Think about what you want to accomplish, when it should happen, where it should happen, why you want to achieve those goals, and the limits or obstacles you may need to overcome. When your goals are specific, you’ll be motivated to stay committed to them.

2. Measure your progress.

Keep track of your progress with measurable goals, and celebrate small victories because they help build momentum and help you meet deadlines.

3. Set achievable goals.

While there’s nothing wrong with big dreams or challenging goals, you should also be realistic. When you set achievable goals, you can identify opportunities and resources to help you reach them. 

4. Set appropriate timelines.

Timelines help you see the big picture and the smaller steps you need to accomplish your goal. When you set goals, a timeline gives you something to work towards and helps you stay on task.  

5. Find someone who achieved your goal.

Find people who’ve already accomplished a similar goal. Draw inspiration from them, and ask them for their tips and tricks. Their insight will help you progress quicker than if you started from scratch and figured things out for yourself. Consider joining a group of people who have similar ambitions. They can help hold you accountable.

6. Stay positive.

If you start to doubt your abilities, acknowledge your feelings, then remind yourself why you set the goal in the first place. Visualize yourself succeeding so you can let go of the fear of inadequacy. Stay open-minded if plans don’t go exactly the way you hoped. Consider organizing your thoughts and writing down your action plan. This exercise will help make your dreams feel more tangible.

When you identify and establish specific goals, your dreams can turn into your reality. There are many paths to success. If you have a vision and work hard, you can achieve anything!

5 Reasons You Should Download the Encourage App

So many things to do and SO little time. Trying to balance planning for the future and living in the present? We found a way to optimize an interactive, low-stress tool to make sure you’re covered for life after high school. We’re more than your average college planning app.  

Keep reading to learn more about why you should be sprinting to your app store after reading. 

We celebrate each step of your journey with milestones

The journey takes a lot of planning and a lot of steps, and this can seem really overwhelming. We’re ready to bake a cake and celebrate each step you achieve when planning for college; do you like chocolate or vanilla?

Match with colleges directly

You’ll create a profile and list preferences about cost, lifestyle, majors, and more to customize your college matches. Find the school that makes sense for you while you’re chasing your dreams. You’ll have the option to save schools that pique your interest and get to know them more.

Match with scholarships

No joke, college is expensive. Answer simple questions about your preferences, priorities about affordability, and other interests, and we’ll match you to your best-fit scholarship opportunities.

It’s basically a to-do list laid out for you! The guesswork is over.

Half of the battle is simply wondering what you need to do to make it work. Thankfully, we’ve designed your to do list for you depending on preferences and goals. Sounds like a win to us.

We’ve got the experience to make a difference

Long story short, we’ve got over 100 combined years of research experience to build a unique app experience that high school students love to use when planning for college. For the past 50 years, we have been evolving the way we do things by listening to the student experience and implementing changes as needed. In a nutshell, you can trust us to guide you in the right direction when painting a picture of your future!

Intrigued? We can’t blame you. Download the app below and take flight! We’ll be on standby with your cake.

5 Unique Careers You Could Consider

The days of being traditional when thinking about your career are over, friend. Unique jobs are uncommon by definition, but you may find your dream career by thinking outside of the box and diving into some passions that can make money. Heads up: some of these jobs require advanced education, training, or certification in order to get started. In this short read, we’ll explore some lucrative careers that you may not have heard of before.

Color Specialist

Job family: Interior Designer

What they do: If you’ve never heard of a color specialist, you’re not alone. Personal color consultants are responsible for helping people design the interior or exterior of their homes or businesses. With so many trends and possibilities, the choices can become overwhelming. That’s where a color expert comes in!

Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree, Masters are a plus

In some states, color specialists must be licensed or certified through the International Association of Color Consultants (IACC) with a membership

Skills needed: Knowledge with tablet computers/ipads and computer assisted design (CAD), photo imaging, video creation applications, creativity, artistic talent and attention to detail

Starting Salary: $60,983

Most common practice: Business owners that consult independently

Career opportunities: Interior design, graphic design, fashion, product placement and visual merchandising, product line development & retail buying, and corporate branding and consulting

Voice-Over Artist

Job family: Entertainment

What they do: If you have a unique voice, chances are, your friends have told you you should be on the radio or in a commercial. There are multiple ways someone can use their voice to build a career in a virtual environment. What do voice artists do? Duties can include reading scripts, interpreting character mannerisms, following writer prompts, changing the pitch of your voice, and portraying emotions verbally. It’s also possible to narrate projects over video content, audiobooks, and video games. This role is typically freelance.

Requirements: GED/High school diploma, with no college needed. Some pursue a bachelors in communication, broadcasting, or theater. Training is typically on the job.

Skills needed: Acting, adaptability, attention to detail, confidence and communication

Starting Salary: $31,999 starting with an average pay after experience of $33.63/hr or $71,908/yr

Career opportunities: Radio, commercials, influencers, narrations, audiobooks, video games

Cruise Ship Director

Job family: Tourism &  Entertainment

What they do: We have to be honest – this one is seemingly the most fun of our list and it requires a stark level of leadership to manage! A cruise ship director is the head of entertainment while you’re living your best life on a cruise. The director typically supervises and evaluates the performance of all cruise personnel to ensure the guests are having the best experience possible. Monitoring the guest comments and creating plans for improvements for special events and parties while aboard claims a majority of the work day. When you hear announcements over the intercoms, you’re likely hearing the voice of the cruise ship director.

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree is not required, however most directors possess a bachelors in hospitality or tourism management. A minimum of 5 years experience in an upscale hotel, resort, cruise ship and entertainment venue is required and a Master of Ceremony may be required. 

Skills needed: Strong management skills and the ability to work in a multicultural environment. Excellent verbal and written skills, and knowledge of another language(s) is a plus. Superior customer service, team building and conflict resolution skills are necessary to be successful in this role.

Starting Salary: $45,000 with an average range after experience of $56,000-$88,500

Career opportunities: Can operate a private ship or major cruise lines such as Carnival, norwegian, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and more


Job family: Personal Care

What they do: They’re like travel guides in a foreign country. No, really! Except instead of helping you cross the street or find the best place to eat, they help you cross the finish line of childbirth and bring home the baby. A birth and postpartum doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a family before, during and shortly after childbirth to help them achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.

Requirements: No formal education is required.  The doula certification is voluntary, however, clients typically will not hire a doula without a certification and training from an established organization.

Skills needed: Childbirth education, emotional support, physical assistance and care, planning, motivation, and teamwork are all skills needed to be successful in this role

Starting Salary: $40,000-$50,000. Doulas can earn a salary of up to $100,000 in a large urban city.

Career opportunities: Doulas typically work as contractors, employees, or business owners. Doulas are paid a set fee per birth or hourly. Doula work is flexible, and often on-call. Doulas are also employed in hospitals.


Job family: Chemistry

What they do: A professional taste-tester?! Sign us up. A flavorist is known for creating flavor profiles and determining ingredients. They work in a lab, using high-tech equipment to distill, extract, and blend chemicals to create a flavor and apply it to different foods. This is what you’ll describe as “artificial flavors”. To be a flavorist, you have to understand the concept and taste of natural flavors and have a well-rounded taste and smell palate for proper analysis. So next time you’re trying a new lollipop or popsicle, think of all the hard work a flavorist had to juggle so you can enjoy a tasty treat.

Requirements: Chemistry degree typically recommended, supplemented with a 5-7 year apprenticeship. 

Skills needed: Strong sense of smell and taste, recordkeeping, chemistry, and creativity

 are all skills needed to be successful in this role

Starting Salary: $50,000 to start with a potential to earn up to $200,000

Career opportunities: Major snack, candy and beverage companies and any company within the food processing industry 

If you learned something new by reading this post, follow us on social media and download our app in the app store to learn more about careers that may be a solid fit for you!

Types of College Degrees

When thinking about college degrees, you may only think about the classic bachelor’s degree you earn at a four-year university. However, there are all different types out there! Read on to learn more:

Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs are short-term training programs that prepare students for immediate employment. You can find these programs at community colleges, universities, and career schools. You must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Other requirements for admission will depend on the school and area of study you choose. The entire program usually takes a year to complete. Learn more about certificate programs by reading this article!

Associate’s Degrees

This 2-year degree is offered by community colleges, career colleges, and some four-year colleges. It’s required to have a high school diploma or GED. Many of the programs prepare students to enter the workforce straight away. In other cases, students transfer to a four-year institution after completing their Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS).

Bachelor’s Degrees

Generally, students take 4 or 5 years to complete this program at a college or university.  A high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite to enrollment. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) are the most common degrees that students pursue. Other types include a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS). Students are required to choose a major area of study. Upon graduation, many students choose to enter the workforce right away. For some fields such as physical therapy or speech pathology, you may be required to pursue additional education.

Master’s Degrees

To earn a master’s degree, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. It ordinarily takes 1-2 years to complete this kind of program. This type of degree is more advanced, and allows students to specialize in their area of study. Additionally, students are typically required to complete a thesis, capstone project, or comprehensive exam before graduating. Upon graduation, students qualify for job positions at an advanced or executive-level.

Doctoral Degrees

A doctoral degree is the highest level you can earn. To pursue a doctoral degree, you need a master’s degree. (Though there are some programs that accept students with only a bachelor’s). You can expect to be in school for at least 2 years. Most doctoral programs require a major research project and dissertation. For many students with ambitions to become lawyers and doctors, there are specialized doctoral programs for those topics of study. 

When mapping your academic path, we recommend figuring out your ultimate goal and working backwards. For example: If you want to be an MD (Doctor of Medicine), you should check out the medical school admissions requirements. Then, plan your bachelor’s degree with those requirements in mind. By understanding the different types of degrees out there, you can choose the academic path that will serve you best. 

5 Careers Working With Children

If you enjoy working with tiny humans and impacting the leaders of tomorrow, perhaps a career working with children is right for you! We’ve highlighted five professions that work specifically with children. Within our highlight, we will briefly describe the role, review the required education, and link you to the median salary. Just an important FYI, half of employees make more than the median salary and half make less. There can be a lot of factors that play into this, such as experience level, location, education level, and type of organization.

1. Elementary School Teacher

This is probably the first profession that comes to mind when you think about careers with kids. Elementary school teachers instruct students (grades K-6) in all of the basic subjects (math, reading, science, social studies) and ensure they are socially and emotionally prepared to succeed in all future education.


To become an elementary school teacher, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. To work in a public school, you must complete the experiential requirements of your state and take an exam to earn a state-issued certification or license.

Median Salary

You can learn more about an elementary school teacher’s salary here.

2. Social Worker

Social workers assist people with the problems and obstacles within their everyday lives. They also help to protect vulnerable children and families. Clinical social workers have the ability to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional problems. Many social workers work with people of all ages, but depending on the setting you work in, you may have the opportunity to work exclusively with children.


To become a social worker, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. If you would like to work in a clinical social work setting, you must have a master’s degree in social work in addition to two years post-master’s experience in the clinical setting under the leadership of a licensed clinical social worker. Clinical social workers must be licensed in the state they work.

Median Salary

You can learn more about a social worker’s salary here.

3. Child Life Specialists

Child life specialists work with infants, children, and families to help them cope with illness, injury, and treatment plans to reduce the fear and anxiety associated. They use developmentally appropriate interventions such as therapeutic play to help children understand what they are going through.


To become a child life specialist you must be certified. In order to become certified, you must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in any field of study and have completed 10 college courses within specific content area in addition to having a minimum of 600 hours of a child life clinical internship hours under the direction of a Certified Child Life Specialist. You can also earn the coursework and internship hours needed to sit for the licensing exam by earning your master’s in Child Life. For more information about the requirements, check out the Association of Child Life Professionals website.

Median Salary

You can learn more about the salary of a child life specialist here.

4. School Counselor

School counselors work with students in the areas of academic achievement, career readiness, and social/emotional development within elementary, middle, and high schools.


To become a school counselor, you must have a master’s degree in school counseling or a closely related field. Some states will require school counselors to have previous classroom teaching experience or a teacher’s certification. You will also take a licensure exam and complete a required internship or practicum experience under the supervision of a licensed school counselor.

Median Salary

Learn more about the salary of a school counselor here.

5. Careers in the health field

People of all ages need health care so a career in the health field will provide you the opportunity to work with children if you’d like. Many students go into nursing school or medical school with the intention of working in pediatrics. Despite this interest in pediatrics, you will still be educated and complete hands-on training with patients of all ages within an array of specialties because you will be required to pass board exams that cover all ages. It’s not until after you complete your classroom education, that you will begin to specialize in pediatrics.

By no means is this a comprehensive list of all careers that work with children, but it’s a starting point. No matter what career you choose, it’s important to get hands-on experience so you can get a “day in the life” view. This will help you to decide whether that career is for you or you need to continue to explore your options!

Matching Your College Major to Career Goals

As a college student, it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after you graduate. You have plenty of time to figure it out! However, there are some steps you can take to make sure you are matching your college major to your career goals.

Work backwards

We recommend figuring out which career you want, and then shaping your education based on those dreams. You are paying a lot of money to be at school, so you want to make sure you are working towards a goal that you really want. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you know that you have to go to medical school. Knowing this, you will want to shape your undergrad major to fulfill medical school requirements. 

Consider time and money

When exploring your career options, you may find that some fields require more schooling than others. Graduate school is certainly an investment of both time and money. If you know you want to achieve a master’s or doctorate level degree, that’s great! If you’re not so sure, you may want to give your career goals more thought. Maybe choose a major that leads directly into a career without any additional education requirements. 

Visit your school’s career center

We know, it’s stressful to think about your future. You may be tempted to just focus on your classes and figure out the career stuff later. However, exploring different careers is essential to figuring out what you want. You don’t need to map out the next ten years of your life, but you should be doing a bit of research about the various occupations out there.

Focus on the fit of your major

If the first step of choosing a career doesn’t work for you, then focus on the fit of your major. Take note of how you feel during different classes. Do you see yourself doing this type of work in the future? Trust your intuition; do you have an overall sense of ease or belonging when it comes to your major? Reflect, and adjust accordingly!

Matching your major to your future career is all about setting yourself up to achieve your dreams and aspirations. No matter where you are in this process, keep these steps in the back of your mind. Though we encourage you to contemplate these big questions about your future, don’t let it stress you out. You will figure it out, we promise!

All About Certificate Programs

When planning for your future, don’t forget about certificate programs. They are a prime option for students who aren’t sure about committing to a four-year university. They also suit students interested in a highly specialized field. Read on to learn more about these programs. 

What Are They?

Undergraduate certificate programs are short-term training programs that prepare students for immediate employment. There are also programs for graduate students, allowing students to pursue mastery of a particular topic to supplement their degree. You can find these programs at community colleges, universities, and career schools.

You must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Other requirements for admission will depend on the school and area of study you choose.

Benefits of Certificate Programs

You’ll save money

If you are attending your certificate program full-time, it usually only takes about a year to complete. Paying for only one year of school will cost much less than paying for four years of college. Woo! Math. 

There are so many topics to choose from

Certificate programs are available in various trades, professional fields, and areas of study. Some of the most popular include healthcare, technology, and business. Some examples of potential careers from certificate programs:

  • Web Developer
  • Dental Assistant
  • Architectural Drafter
  • Hairdresser
  • Welder
  • Veterinary Assistant

You’ll be qualified for professional work

Some high school students might want to skip college and go straight into the work force. A certificate program can help you quickly qualify for a higher paying job. It’s a great resume booster! 

Put those credits toward a degree

Many of the classes you take may also count towards an associate or bachelor’s degree. In completing the program, you will become a working professional. If you want, you can use your new employment as a means to continue studying. Many working students pursue their degree part-time or online.

Now you can see why you shouldn’t overlook these programs as an option for your future!