Travelling can help students decide what they want to do with their lives.

Q: I’m currently in my second last year of high school and my parents already have my university life planned for me. I will attend the University of Toronto, they’ve said. I don’t want to go straight to college or university after graduation. I’d like to travel and maybe even work a bit to offset the cost of tuition. My parents aren’t very supportive of that idea and think that it would just be a waste of time. Can you help me refine my plea to them, Jill? How do I make travelling for a year or even working for a year sound beneficial enough for my parents to go for it?

A: Tanya, working for a year locally or abroad could be a great way for you to test out the world and really get a first-hand account of what skills you have to contribute to a workplace. Essentially, it’s more time and financial savings for you to test drive your life for a year. Then you can select a college or university program that is suited to you rather than simply jumping into school without knowing what you really want to study.

Look at the cool careers of travel columnists like Metro’s own The Road Warrior Julia Dimon. She travels around the world and then gets to tell a captive audience all about her adventures. She could make a great example to tell your parents about when making your case of travelling or working and still learning.

Once you can convince them of the academic value of travelling or working for a year you should be on easy street. If you can get some practicum credits or even pick up a new language while working abroad, even better. The idea here is you don’t want them to think you are going to be hanging out with friends for a year or it definitely won’t fly.

Speak to your teachers and guidance counsellor and start doing the research on options now. Once you are equipped with all the information you need, request a meeting with your parents and the guidance counsellor. You’ve still got some time, but don’t leave it until the end. For some of these programs the applications can take up to a year!

For more information visit the Student Work Abroad Programme ( Good luck, Tanya!

Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when emailing. All letters are subject to publication.

jill’s tip of the week

  • When being interviewed for a job, keep in mind that you might be being screened as a potential candidate for several positions within the organization. If you aren’t the best fit for person X’s department, you might find yourself being referred to person Y. Therefore, it’s important you consistently come across as a good sport regardless of the outcome. Another good strategy if you are not hired for the paid position you want is to enquire into potential internship or assistant positions within the department. This way you can at least get your foot in the door!

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