Good advice for graduating students

By Jen Wiebe
Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

"What are you doing next year?"

Why is such a simple question so despised among most Grade 12 students? Possibly it is because we hear it somewhere around 40 times a day. It seems to be the one question everyone likes to ask.

Copyright Canada's SchoolNet

But for most, the answer to the question is just plain scary. It's a "fear of the unknown" says
Melissa Wieler of Garden Valley Collegiate in Winkler, Manitoba. Barry White, a grade 12 student in Port Hardy, British Columbia, says students feel so uncertain about their future "because the choices they make now will affect their whole life."

Intense pressure to choose a career is coming from society, family, teachers as well as from the students themselves. If you are a grade 12 student and not quite certain about your plans, don't worry! Here's some help. One of Garden Valley Collegiate's guidance counsellors, Irene Schmidt, has some helpful suggestions for planning your future.

  1. Get to Know Yourself: In order to know what you want in life, you need to know who you are now. Schmidt urges students to discover their likes and dislikes and determine what's meaningful to them. It's a process of self research. Most is learned through life experience, but even at 17 or 18 years of age, you've got enough experience to know what you might enjoy. Forget the idea of the 'perfect salary'. Instead, imagine the 'perfect job'. What work would be satisfying for you?

  2. Find Out Your Options: Talk to people! Ask others what they like and dislike about their jobs, as well as what schooling they took to get there. Contact and research schools by phone, mail or e-mail to discover what's available to you. Make yourself known to the school of your choice. Send a picture of yourself so they can put a face to your name.

  3. Don't See Any Experience as Insignificant: "Nothing is ever wasted," says Schmidt. "Everything you know is something you use, or should use." Even if you do make a school choice that does not benefit you directly, it will still help you in your walk of life. Even "failures" can serve you well, if you apply the phrase "learn from your mistakes." Mistakes can help you relate to others who go through a similar situation.

  4. "I Can Learn It": You can learn anything you want (within reason -- of course). Some students are too lazy or afraid to step over the edge to try something new. The key to success is persistence, and knowing how to work for what you want.

Our future does not have to be unknown or approached with fear. If we get to know ourselves, explore our options, see our options as dynamic, and believe that we can learn what is needed, then we can answer the dreaded question with confidence.