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5 Important Steps to Choosing your Path after High School

Youth trying to choose the right path
Youth trying to choose the right path

You are graduating high school this year, or maybe you graduated last year. Next fall, you plan to go to college, university or maybe you plan to explore a skilled trade. Some form of post-secondary training or education is definitely going to happen… but what?  When you look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What’s next?” your most common response is, “I don’t know.”

Can you relate? If so, don’t worry. You’re not alone. 

In this blog post, we will take you through 5 steps that career coaches commonly use with clients to help them figure out what they want to do. These steps will need some reflection, some time, and some effort, but we promise it will be worth it! 

Step 1: Gut check. What makes you happy? Think about your past experiences – school, work, sports, volunteering, clubs, and travel. As you reflect, ask yourself a few questions and write down the answers.  

  • “What are the experiences in my life of which I am most proud? Why?”
  • “What did I do to make the event or experience so important to me?  Did I enjoy making my contribution? Would I like to do similar things?”

Try to come up with a list of 7 to 10 experiences. Note as much detail about the experiences as you can. You’ll need them for the next step.  

Step 2: Consider what work roles include these sorts of experiences. Review your list of your experiences and accomplishments. Do you notice any themes?  For example, are you good at solving problems?  Enjoy technology? Enjoy fixing things or creating things from scratch? Do you often find yourself supporting people through difficult times? Perhaps you are competitive. These are clues to the work roles that may appeal to you. Your goal is to create a list of interesting roles. Aim for three to five but a few more won’t be a bad thing!

Step 3: Research - Make it personal. It’s easy to do online research but it will only get you so far. To dig deeper, ask someone working in the roles on your list about their work. Find out:

  • What makes their work meaningful for them? What makes them excited to start each day? What does a bad day look like? How often do they occur and how do they manage it?

Note their comments and feel their energy. If it reflects your own feelings, and makes you feel excited to learn more, you’re likely on the right track.   

Step 4: Discover Your Post-Secondary Options. Ask the individuals you meet with where they received their training and if they would recommend it. This can be a launching point for exploring your options on college and university websites. The Ontario College of Trades also has a great site to explore if you are considering a skilled trade. As you narrow in on the programs that seem to most closely meet your interests, arrange to meet a student advisor or program lead to learn more about how their institution and their program and staff can support your journey.  

Step 5: Share your research findings and ideas with people who can help. Certainly your family and friends can offer their opinions to help you reach a decision, but also reach out to your guidance counsellors at school, a program lead at the college or university you are considering, or the Ontario College of Trades. Better still, contact Lutherwood about Experience Ontario, an Ontario Ministry of Education funded program to help students who are preparing for their post-secondary journeys prepare to make those next steps with purpose and confidence. 

We’re here to help.

Contact us today to learn how Experience Ontario can help you determine your next steps. 

"Having suffered from a serious mental illness most of my life, I feel the need to give back to those that suffer from similar hardship and struggles; especially the kids in our community. I appreciate being given the opportunity to support children's mental health initiatives like Steps for Kids."