After High School: What's Next?
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After High School: What's Next?

Youth trying to choose the right path

by Bill Todd, Lutherwood Employment Specialist

Your child is graduating high school this year, or maybe they graduated last year. Next fall, they plan to go to college, university or maybe plan to explore a skilled trade. Some form of post-secondary training or education is definitely going to happen… but what? If your child’s most common response is, “I don’t know,” don’t worry. They’re not alone.

In this blog post, we will take you through 5 steps that career coaches commonly use with young people to help them figure out what they want to do. These steps will require some reflection, some time, and some effort, but we promise it will be worth it! 

Step 1: Gut check. Ask your child to think about what makes them happy. Get them to think about their past experiences – school, work, sports, volunteering, clubs, and travel. As they reflect, ask them a few questions and have them write down the answers.  

  • “What are the experiences in your life that you are most proud of? Why?”
  •  “What did you do to make the event or experience so important to you?  Did you enjoy making a contribution? Would you like to do similar things?”

See if they can come up with a list of 7 to 10 experiences. Ask them to note as much detail about the experiences as they can. They will need it for the next step.  

Step 2: Consider what work roles include these sorts of experiences. Now it’s time for your child to review their list of experiences and accomplishments. Do they notice any themes?  For example, are they good at solving problems?  Enjoy technology? Enjoy fixing things or creating things from scratch? Do they often find themselves supporting people through difficult times? Perhaps they are competitive. These are clues to the work roles that may appeal to them. Their goal is to create a list of interesting roles. Aim for three to five but a few more won’t be a bad thing!

Step 3: Research - Make it personal. It’s easy to do online research but it will only get them so far. To dig deeper, your child should take the time to ask someone working in the roles on their list about their work. They should find out:

  • What makes their work meaningful for them?  What makes them excited to start each day?  What does a bad day look like? How often do they occur and how do they manage it?

Make sure they note their comments and feel their energy. If it matches your child’s own feelings, and makes them feel excited to learn more, they’re likely on the right track.  

Step 4: Discover Post-Secondary Options. Make sure your they out from the individuals they speak with where they received their training and if they would recommend it. This can be a launching point for exploring options on college and university websites. The Ontario College of Trades also has a great site to explore if your child is considering a skilled trade. As they narrow in on the programs that seem to most closely meet their interests, encourage them to set  up a meeting with a student advisor or program lead to learn more about how their institution and their program and staff can support their journey.  

Step 5: Share research findings and ideas with people who can help. As a parent or caregiver, you can offer your opinions to help your child reach a decision, but they should also reach out to their guidance counsellors at school, a program lead at the college or university they are considering, or the Ontario College of Trades. Better still, contact Lutherwood about Experience Ontario, an Ontario Ministry of Education funded program to help students who are preparing for their post-secondary journeys prepare to make those next steps with purpose and confidence. 

We’re here to help.

Contact us today to learn how Experience Ontario can help your child determine their next steps.