Real life examples of Post Secondary Choices.
If only we had the opportunity to go back and offer words of wisdom and advice to our younger selves, especially our younger selves about to embark on one of life’s great transitions – moving from high school to college or university.
But since time machines have yet to be perfected, we will rely on the words of those who have recently been through it. What would current college or university students or recent graduates tell high-school students thinking about their post-secondary choices and the journey ahead?
Every time a university recruiter came to visit her high school when she was in grades 11 and 12, Randeep Mandar collected university program brochures.
“I meticulously went through them all. I put a lot of time into narrowing down my choices.”
She eventually settled on journalism and fast forward five years and Mandar, 22, has earned a four-year degree and will embark on earning a graduate degree in a year.
She advises incoming students to take part in every faculty event and to get to know their instructors.
“Take part in the opportunities that you have. It’s part of the experience.”
As for what she would do differently if she had to do it all again, Mandar says she should have more seriously considered attending college. She says she succumbed to family pressure to go to university.
“I was hyper-focused on university, but I actually think I may have been better to do two years at college first,” she said.
“My advice would be that if you don’t feel ready for university, look at college. There are a lot of options out of college. Don’t limit yourself to what you think others want. Focus on what makes you happy.”
Nikolai Laganin had little idea what he might want to study as he approached the end of his school years at a Burlington, Ont. high school.
His mother Bojana Maric worried that he wouldn’t find his way. She urged him to try technology or computers, but he wasn’t convinced. He listened to the presentations of college and university recruiters who came to his high school and came home with half a dozen brochures.
But nothing really captured his interest.
He applied to five different programs at several colleges, including computer technology and cybersecurity, but Laganin, 18, who likes cars and working with his hands, decided Mohawk College’s aviation maintenance program was a good fit for him.
He says it’s the best decision he’s ever made.
“I honestly love it. My classroom is in a hangar with helicopters and airplanes,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier with the program. Every day I’m learning something new.”
Maric hoped he would choose Mohawk, since she had such a great experience there in the 1990s, studying office administration and then computer systems.
Now her son is texting her pictures with captions that read: “Mom, I’m under a plane right now.”
In January, Laganin and his classmates will move into a new facility at the airport with state-of-the-art classrooms and hangar space to work on aircraft.
“I look outside and there is a constant arrival of cargo planes. It’s just so cool.”
Laganin’s advice to high school students is simple: “Find a program that suits you. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you like it.”
When Maryse Belleau was choosing which university to attend, her choice was rather simple. As a Francophone, she knew she wanted to learn in French and wanted to stay in Ontario. That left her with Laurentian University and the University of Ottawa.
A visit to the Sudbury university campus made her decision for her.
“I’m not a fan of big cities. My high school was about 90 minutes away from Ottawa, so I had visited the university there a number of times. My father convinced me to go visit Laurentian. The second I arrived, my decision was made. I loved it.”
The natural, outdoorsy northern setting and the relatively small size of the campus suited her, says Belleau. An upper-year student conducting the tour painted a picture of university life that resonated, too.
She graduated in June 2019 with a bachelors in geography. She’s now in the second year of a French education program with the goal of becoming a teacher. Belleau is also a senior liaison ambassador at Laurentian, overseeing the students who conduct tours.
Looking back, Belleau says she should have done more research into her university choice, even though it has all worked out for her.
She urges all high-school students making a post-secondary decision to visit prospective campuses, even if tours aren’t available right now. Connect with student ambassadors who can answer your questions and give you a student perspective, she says.
Spend time on virtual tours and take advantage of all the online resources post-secondary institutions have created to help students make a decision.
Belleau advises new students to take as many electives in areas of interest as they can. She discovered her initial choice in health sciences wasn’t for her, but a geography elective showed her a new path.
“I wish I had known earlier it was OK to change my mind. I didn’t switch programs until third year, even though I knew in first year health wasn’t for me.”
Belleau also urges students to participate in all the clubs and events that interest them. When she arrived to Laurentian, she was a shy first-year student five hours away from home. Extra-curricular activities helped her make friends and feel a part of the university community.
“Delve in campus life as much as you can. It will be over before you know it.”