Is Post-Secondary Right For Me?

You’re trying to decide whether or not to continue your education after high school.

It helps if your family had it all planned out for you since you were six. I wasn’t really given a choice. They said to me: “If you’re going to buy a house, support a family and travel the world, you’re going to need a good job that pays you well. And you won’t get that by serving tables your whole life.” Thanks for the advice.

I am sincerely grateful—I had the support of my family, I was supported financially by my boyfriend, I was young and I had the grades to get into any program.

The world was my oyster.

And like me, you’ve got nothing to worry about. In fact, you should be excited, not nervous, because you have the choice to create your own future.

Around Grade 11 was when I began seriously considering this future of mine. The three factors which contributed to my career choice were what I enjoyed doing, what I was good at and what could earn me piles of money.

So I began thinking: I love to create art, I’m good at drawing and working with computers and although I’m familiar with the term “starving artist,” I was determined to get a well-paying job using the tools I had.

After visiting a career fair hosted by Algonquin College in Ottawa, I decided graphic design was the program for me. It was perfect—every class sounded interesting (excluding Art History) and catered to my natural skills.

While it may have come a little too easily for me, I can understand those of you who might be having trouble deciding what to take or whether or not to even continue your education at all after high school. Here’s a checklist to help you dcide:

1.      Do I have ideal grades to be accepted into a post-secondary program? Returning students have the opportunity to complete Grade 12 for a second time to improve their marks and their eligibility for college or university.

2.      Can I afford post-secondary education? If you’ve don’t have savings, look into OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program). OSAP provides funding specifically for people like myself whose family cannot afford to pay their tuition or people who live outside their family’s household. It also covers the cost of living in residence, textbooks and supplies required by your program and even part of travel costs (e.g. car payments, a bus pass) if you’re commuting from afar. Don’t even get me started on the hundreds of bursaries and scholarships everyone can easily apply for.

3.      How long do I want to be in school? I finished my college certification in three years and went straight to work. I live on my own and have what I admirably describe as a “disposable income” while many of my friends are earning their 4-5 year degrees in psychology, working part-time and still living with their families.

4. Why would I be taking this course? Here’s the tricky part. You can calculate whether it’s financially responsible or not for you to pursue further education, but when it comes to searching your soul, you need to put aside the fear and be honest with yourself. You can give yourself any future you want. All you have to do is decide what that is.

You should choose a course that involves material that is familiar to you. You’ll be more confident in your work and your marks will reflect that. You’ll actually enjoy doing homework, get it done faster and have time left over for a part-time job or hanging out with friends and seeing your family. Before you know it, you’ll graduate and be out in the working world, job-hunting as a real-life professional in your field.

Whatever may be holding you back from making this decision has a solution of its own. With all the help you can receive to get into a college or university, there are no closed doors, only the ones you close on yourself.

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