Mireille Moisan, guidance counsellor

Member of the Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d’orientation du Québec

Difficult choices

It is during Secondary 4 that some adolescents begin to gradually feel the end of their high school years approaching. Some experience anxiety in the face of options and looming career choices because they are aware of the repercussions on their professional future. It is therefore important to know the different choices as well as their consequences, notably by consulting a guidance counsellor.

When it is time to choose Secondary 5 options, many questions arise: which courses open all the doors in cégep? Do the options offered by the school other than sciences permit entry into college? Are sciences crucial?

Many parents, and incidentally their children, think that science must be chosen at all costs, even if the child has no interest in the subject, with the goal of preventing a door from closing. When the student enjoys science and performs well, that makes sense. However, for a fair amount of young people it is not that simple. Some prefer languages, arts or sports, and may experience significant difficulties with science.

When choosing a career, youth with little or no interest in science opt for technical, vocational or pre-university studies that do not require Secondary 5 science. Some students still choose the sciences despite their difficulties in the subject and their lack of interest, and consequently see their averages drop dramatically, putting them at risk of being refused entry into some restricted programs.

It is therefore important to consider the student’s interests and strengths: they will be more interested and motivated, which will improve their results. Professionals such as teachers and guidance counsellors can support students in this regard. To be clear, students who have not taken chemistry or physics in Secondary 5 can always, if they wish, take them in cégep if offered, or in an adult education program.

You know your child better than anyone and can show them their strengths and their qualities to help them choose according to their personality. You can help guide your child by:

  • keeping yourself informed of the choices offered by the school.
  • ensuring that they understand the information they receive about courses that are offered.
  • observing and highlighting specific characteristics they possess.
  • discussing with them their interests and the factors they consider when making choices.
  • acknowledging their strengths and capacities.
  • encouraging them to make a personal and realistic choice.
  • encouraging them to consult their guidance counsellor if necessary.