For most young people, starting cégep (or vocational training) is a chance to reaffirm their autonomy, and experience big changes and the widening of their social networks. The same way your child made the journey from elementary to high school, the transition from high school to college or vocational training is an important stage in their life.
While some students experience this transition without issue, others are worried and the journey becomes a source of great anxiety.
Freedom, at last?
Many students see their entry into cégep as a new life marked by certain new freedoms (reduced course hours, apartment living, more socializing), but the impression is misleading. Even if the class hours are less imposing, the hours of studying and homework are more numerous, and the schedules are more varied. Structure is also a lot less present and independence is valued and encouraged. Also, for some students, apartment living brings with it a slew of responsibilities that they did not expect, or at least did not plan for to any great extent (having roommates, chores, meal preparation, bills to pay, etc.). It is therefore important that they continue to have your support during this transition.
- Discuss what they think of the transition to post-secondary studies.
- Visit the cégep with them and try to meet with student service representatives.
- Inform your child about assistance services in all colleges.
- Be on the lookout for changes in their behavior (loss of interest, laziness, absenteeism), and talk about it without judging (or punishing) while continuing to demonstrate openness.
- Encourage casual discussions (e.g., in the car: they will feel less like they are being interrogated than in formal face-to-face discussions).
- Even if you no longer have access to their school record, you can still stay informed about your child by showing sincere interest in their progress and study choices.
- Remain open-minded about their chosen field of study: it often happens that it doesn’t really correspond to their interests and abilities. It is important and sometimes justified however, to reconsider their choice. A guidance counsellor and individual pedagogical assistance available at cégep can assist them.