If you don’t know exactly where to go when you leave high school, you’re not alone.
“Career development is a journey and some move along that journey more quickly than others. But for everyone it involves developing yourself personally, socially and academically in the area of work which you choose,” says Rola AbiHanna, guidance consultant with the Nova Scotia Department of Education in Halifax.
But the message is clear for anyone graduating from high school: A good education or training is essential in today’s competitive job market.
Here’s a quiz to help you determine what post-secondary route might best suit your circumstances, strengths and needs. For each of the following questions, select the answer A, B or C that describes you best.
A) Your parents have contributed to an education fund or you qualify for scholarships.
B) You have savings from a part-time job and can live at home.
C) You have some funds reserved for necessary job training.
A) You got mostly A’s and B’s in high school, are studious, love to read and have strong problem-solving skills.
B) You did fine in high school but prefer less emphasis on academic achievements.
C) You may have done well academically in high school but your passion is using other talents such as working with your hands.
A) You’re adventurous and want to move away from home.
B) You need to stay close to home for personal reasons.
C) You don’t care where you have to move to complete your chosen program.
A) You expect your education will eventually give you an edge in terms of earning power.
B) You hope your education will provide a secure job, albeit perhaps not the best paying.
C) Your main goal is to develop skills that are marketable and perhaps portable.
A) Your slate is clear so you can devote all your time to educational pursuits.
B) You have a part-time day job so taking night courses would best fit your schedule.
C) You may already be working in a particular field but need more training for accreditation.
A) You prefer a theoretical approach to learning.
B) You don’t mind some theory but need some practical knowledge as well.
C) You thrive in a hands-on learning environment.
A) There’s no doubt in your mind that you want to get that degree.
B) Your heart is set on a specific area, and it doesn’t matter much what route you take.
C) You need training in a particular field.
A) Large classes don’t bother you. In fact, they give you a chance to meet other students and to exchange ideas.
B) You prefer small classes where professors can deal with you on a one-on-one basis.
C) Class size does not enter into the equation as you expect most of your time in a post-secondary institution will consist of hands-on training.
If you answered mostly A’s
University may be in your future. Universities offer a solid theoretical education and varied social experiences. While they can be expensive, you may be eligible for bursaries, scholarships and/or student loans.
If you answered mostly B’s
You might be a great candidate for community college. Hands-on training is the driver here. The cost is usually lower than university, and small classes allow professors to better communicate. Optional night courses and distance learning might allow you to have a day job. Many colleges are becoming finishing schools. You get a university degree, then take post-graduate training at a college in a specific field.
If you answered mostly C’s
Your best bet might be a career or technical college. These privately owned schools offer shorter-term programs so they are a good bet if you know exactly what you want to do career-wise, and you’re willing to pay for it (career colleges can be expensive). Trades can be lucrative and rewarding, not to mention portable and usually in demand.