In Secondary 5, young people generally understand themselves a little more, about what they like and don’t like, and they may have more work experience and are able to better distinguish their personality traits, habits and the values particular to them.

For others however, it is possible that the process is more difficult. It’s not easy for students to engage in this sort of introspection. It is particularly important to ask for the guidance counsellor’s collaboration.

Help them with their self-discovery

  • Identify with them what has evolved since the beginning of high school in terms of their work habits, tastes, knowledge and behaviors.
  • Repeat the exercise of listing their personality traits, their values, abilities and personal interests

The world of school will soon change dramatically for your child, who may begin feeling and demonstrating interest and/or concerns about it. Whether they choose vocational training or a general college education, the changes that are coming are significant and they should be well prepared.

Some tips to help them

  • Examine, in depth, the goals, objectives and program content of general and vocational programs that interest them and compare the ones they most prefer.
  • Document in a detailed manner the information about colleges and university programs, services, sports, social involvement, etc.
  • Create a portrait of the new lifestyle that includes a college schedule, requiring housing or not, modes of transit, etc.

The time has come to delve deeper into the world of the labor market, which your child is able to better understand. It is important to assist in the process so that they will co-operate and involve themselves. To ensure it is not a boring exercise for your adolescent, you can help create a useful experience by supporting them in their research. Whether it’s navigating online, visiting companies or suggesting internships, this experience should be pleasant for everyone.

Here are some examples of what your adolescent can do at this stage:

  • Make the case for what occupation suits him best and express his views on the work-family relationship.
  • Formulate and pose questions to representatives of organizations and businesses in different sectors.
  • Document in detailed fashion the occupations he envisages for himself and how he plans to obtain them.
  • Name the job sectors that interest him.

Your child must now make an important decision that will have significant consequences for his future. Remember though, that while no choices are final, it is still important to properly prepare them for this decision-making process. A guidance counsellor can play a vital role in this stage of a young person’s life.

At this stage it is appropriate for youth to be able to:

  • Identify the steps required to prepare for and enter the labor market.
  • Compare the most suitable trades and professions for them using personal criteria.
  • Estimate their chances of being admitted to their preferred college (certain regional admission services, e.g., the SRACQ, offer admission predictability tools.)
  • Calculate the impact of certain constraints (grades, distance, cost, etc.) on their education or employment plans.
  • Take stock of his performance in various school subjects in view of the entry requirements into the education programs that interest them (restricted programs).
  • Prioritize the plans that they have the most chance of succeeding at and formulate alternatives, with the help of a guidance counsellor, in the event of a refusal (“Plan B”).
  • Specify, to the degree possible, an occupational preference.

Inspired by publications by Marcelle Gingras, guidance counsellor and retired professor, Université de Sherbrooke.