After high school: what's next for graduating students?

By Katie Norman
SNN Features Editor
St. John's, Newfoundland

Your high school years are the best years of your life…or so we are lead to believe. These three years are hyped up so much that many of today's youth dread leaving high school. For some, leaving school is a joy, a highly-anticipated occasion, while those that find solace behind those walls feel that their lives are over when they leave. It is as if they have lost something they can depend on.


Leaving high school also leaves many teenagers with decisions to make that will affect the rest of their lives. The main decision facing today's youth is what they are going to do to further their education. Astonishingly, many people decide to not go further than a high school diploma. As of 1996, the average Canadian received only 12.3 years of schooling. That doesn't even give you a high school diploma.

In today's world, there are many options for young people: university, college, trades school, the armed forces and working are just a few of today's options. Although choosing what to do is a big step, it shouldn't be feared.

In a recent survey, 74% of males and 75% of females in high school were planning on pursuing an education from university after they finish high school. This is not a surprise - since 1976 the number of young people attending university has gone up 7 per cent.

For many young people, choosing university seemed like the only option. As Aidan Moores, a student at Memorial University said in a recent interview, "I wanted to further my education and expand my job opportunity frontiers."

Another student from Memorial, Lorraine Garland, said, "I've wanted to go to university my whole life. It was the only decision for me."

Leaving a controlled learning environment and entering university can be a big step. There are many new things to get adjusted to a dorm and roommate, the lack of finances you have (your allowance won't stretch this far anymore), and the new methods of teaching.

However Stacey Noseworthy, a Memorial student as well, was quick to point out, "I feel that the biggest change would have to be that you are responsible for yourself and no one else is going to be responsible for you. You have to wake up, smell the coffee and get control of your own life."

University is a time to blaze your own trails, change and take off in new directions. You get the privilege to learn about the world around you, your country and yourself.

"As for learning outside the classroom is concerned, it is crucial to university - you only get out of university what you put in, and it is a very independent learning environment," said Ian Foster, a first-year student at Memorial.

Garland felt the same way: "There is more to learning at university than the topics covered in classes. The real learning is in the everyday experiences."

Aidan Moores summed up learning in a great way, "It is a never ending experience."

The main point I am trying to get across is that leaving school should not be feared but embraced. Choosing a career should be exciting, not back breaking.

It is natural to be anxious, as Stacey Noseworthy said when she was asked it she was scared.

"Yes and no. Yes, in that it was going to be a big change and no, because it was going to be a big change. I mean it is really scary knowing that how you do in university is going to affect the rest of your life."

On the flip side she said, "Then again it is also very exciting knowing that you are in control of the direction that your life is going in."

The main point is university is a time to get to know yourself. Sure it's not the right choice for everyone, but it can be an enlightening experience for those who chose to embrace it.