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Advertiser Directory 22 Black’s Photography 40 Boston Pizza 12 Canadian Aviation Maintenance Council 14 Canadian Plastics Sector Council 44 Canadian Printing Industries Sector Council 41 Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council 19 Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council 36 Centennial College 46 College of the North Atlantic 50 Construction Sector Council 26 Contact Centre Canada 33 Fleming College 30 HMV 49 Humber Business School 04 Hydro One 24 Insurance Institute of Canada 48 Kwantlen Polytechnic University ii McDonald’s 34 Mining Industry Human Resources Council 08 National Seafood Sector Council 37 New Brunswick’s Apprenticeship & Occupational Development Program 34 Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

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By Debbie Miller

Conversations with Canadian College Students



Finding and following your path By Laura Di Paolo

First Nations students choosing a health care profession... by pam Burton


GET INVOLVED! STAY INVOLVED! By Zaren Healey White, Denise Hooper and Kim Kelly



Gappers: Taking time off between high school and post-secondary studies

By The Canadian Council on Learning

You may want to be a lawyer, doctor or teacher… By Rebecca Markey

33 Ontario Masonry Training Centre 47 Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association 27 Petroleum Human Resources Council 12 Police Sector Council 38 Saskatchewan Watershed Authority 10 22 TD Bank Financial Group 36 Tim Hortons 02 Trillium Health Centre 14 Wood Manufacturing Council


Living On or Off Campus By Darlene Hnatchuk





A Blogger Goes to College By Jillianne Hamilton


debating the pros and cons of taking time off after high school

The Hospitality & Tourism Industry: It’s much more than you think By Robbie Stewart

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CO career options

Welcome to the premier issue of Career Options – High School Edition

Managing Editor Anne Markey Project Management – gordongroup Shirley Taylor Art Direction – gordongroup Leslie Miles

» Thanks for picking up Career Options – High School Edition, and welcome to our very first issue. That’s right, we’re new! So allow us to introduce ourselves. The magazine’s focus is the transition from secondary to post-secondary education. Okay, that sounds dull. But what we really mean to say is this: the decisions you’re making right now, while you’re still in high school, will have a huge impact on your future.

Design & Layout – gordongroup Dominika Kowalczyk Advertising Sales – gordongroup Thomas Krayer Fred Hanson Carolyn Forsyth Print Management – gordongroup Leslie Miles Contributors Anne Markey Canadian Council on Learning Darlene Hnatchuk Debbie Miller Denise Hooper Jillianne Hamilton John R. Jell Kim Kelly Laura di Paolo Pam Burton Rebecca Markey Robbie Stewart Zaren Healey White

So you have some big decisions ahead of you. Many of them may be centred around your plans for college, university or other training after high school. Your parents, guidance counsellors, teachers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters—everyone wants to know: • What you’re going to do next • Which schools you’re considering • What field you might major in • Whether you’ll live on campus or off campus • What your long-term plans are • And so on, and so on, and so on…

Career Options High School Edition is published annually by the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE), 720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 202, Toronto ON M5S 2T9. For subscription information, contact Anne Markey: Tel: 416-929-5156 ext. 223 Fax: 416-929-5256 E-mail: Website: For advertising inquiries, contact Thomas Krayer, gordongroup: Tel: 613-234-8468 ext. 223 Fax: 613-234-8655 E-mail: Website: ISSN: 1712-1183

Articles in Career Options – High School Edition have information and perspectives you might not find elsewhere. Our premier edition gives you straight answers about adjusting to college life (“A Blogger Goes to College”), professional school applications (“You May Want to Be a Lawyer, Doctor or Teacher…”) and taking a gap year (“Gappers: Taking time off between high school and post-secondary studies”).

The Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) is a national, non-profit partnership of employer recruiters and career services professionals. Our mission is to provide authoritative information, advice, professional development opportunities and other services to employers, career services professionals, and students. NOTE: The opinions expressed within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect CACEE policy. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher.

Today Career Options – High School Edition is published in hard copy only, but we have big plans to grow it into a Web 2.0 electronic environment where you and your fellow high school students from across Canada can contribute instant feedback and discussions, blogs, electronic mentoring and much more. We welcome your input as to what you’d like to see in the magazine and online. Please send your comments to Anne Markey at Good luck with your decision making!

Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers 720 Spadina Ave., Suite 202 Toronto ON M5S 2T9

Anne Markey Editor Career Options – High School Edition

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Your career starts now!

Do you: Look forward to new challenges every day? Have an eye for detail? Enjoy solving problems? Enjoy using technology to work smarter, not harder? Have a good imagination and a creative flair? Like to be physically active and on the move? Like to see the fruits of your labour? Enjoy working as part of a team and accomplishing great things? Want to earn a great salary? Want to earn while you learn? If you answered YES to any of these questions, then you should look into apprenticeship.

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paid well to “doBeing work you enjoy in a stimulating environment that offers great opportunities for professional development and advancement… what’s not to like about that?

What are you waiting for? Imagine learning all the theoretical and practical lessons of your chosen career through one-on-one, post-secondary training. Now imagine being paid for it! With almost 300 apprenticeable occupations and trades in Canada today, the work of apprentices touches every aspect of our lives: from the homes we live in, to the cars we drive, to the food we eat. Apprenticeship is a recognized form of post-secondary education that allows students to “earn while they learn” and opens the door to a wide range of rewarding and well-paying careers. Apprenticeship programs are regulated by our provincial and territorial governments. Much like the driver’s license registration system in Canada, each province or territory has its own government office that assists apprentices in obtaining their certification. The Government of Canada supports apprenticeship training by working with the provinces and territories through the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA). The CCDA is responsible for the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The “Red Seal” allows qualified tradespeople in 49 different occupations to work in any province or territory without having to write additional exams.

WANTED: One million skilled workers by 2020 No, you’re not seeing things. The Conference Board of Canada estimates that, if current trends continue, we could be short about one million skilled workers in just twelve years. Now compare this number with roughly 300,000 apprentices who are currently registered in Canada. Economists say that a skilled labour shortage will affect not only our ability to compete in a global market, but also our longterm economic growth. Forecasts vary from sector to sector and region to region, but the result is the same. Apprentices and journeypersons are already in 6


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demand across the country. As the baby-boom generation that makes up most of our skilled workforce continues to retire over the next few years, this demand will only increase. So why not take stock of your interests, skills and abilities, and check out one of the many challenging and rewarding careers that apprenticeship can lead to?

Apprenticeship = Respect + Opportunity + Good Pay Apprenticeship is a recognized form of postsecondary education, just like university or college. But there’s a big difference: apprentices acquire their skills not only in the classroom, but through paid on-the-job training with an employer as well. • Depending on the occupation or trade, an apprenticeship can take two to five years to complete. • Apprentices usually spend 40 to 44 weeks a year on the job and go to school for six to eight weeks. • Apprentices must find an employer and may need to pay tuition fees for in-school training. • Apprentices earn a salary on the job from their first day. • Apprentices receive a Certificate of Qualification in a designated trade. A recent survey of apprentices completing their first year of in-school training in Canada shows that they expect to earn an average annual income of between $52,000 and $55,000 upon graduation. Compare this to the responses received from undergraduates, who expect to earn $42,250, and college graduates, who expect to earn $45,400. Being paid well to do work you enjoy in a stimulating environment that offers great opportunities for professional development and advancement... what’s not to like about that?

Myth Busting Negative perceptions and attitudes about apprenticeship and the skilled trades have been around for years. Here’s the scoop on facts vs. fiction. Myth: Skilled trades are not for students who get good grades. Reality: This is probably the most common misperception about skilled trades. The reality is that skilled trades demand a strong academic foundation in reading, writing, maths and sciences. Myth: Having a university degree is the only way to land a good job. Reality: Given the high demand, good pay and

travel opportunities that apprentices can expect, completing an apprenticeship and achieving a Certificate of Qualification for a designated trade would certainly seem to be a ticket to a great career. Myth: Skilled trades are dirty, noisy and physically demanding. Reality: Though technology has greatly changed the face of many skilled trades, there will always be the need for “hands-on” work. But this is why many choose these occupations in the first place! This type of work can be far more rewarding than a “desk job.” Myth: Women don’t have the physical strength needed for apprenticeship or the skilled trades. Reality: Physical work doesn’t always mean brute strength! In fact, careers in the skilled trades more often require dexterity, stamina, good hand-eye coordination and balance—all attributes that women and men possess equally. Myth: There are only dead-end jobs in the skilled trades. Reality: Apprenticeship training offers you a path to a career, not just a job! There are many opportunities for advancement, from supervisory positions, to management positions, to the possibility of owning your own business. It’s all up to you!

recent survey “ofA apprentices

completing their first year of inschool training in Canada shows that they expect to earn an average annual income of between $52,000 and $55,000 upon graduation.

A Path to Success Step 1: Finish high school. Like university or college, the entrance requirements for most apprenticeships include Grade 12. A pre-apprenticeship may also be an option while you are still in high school.

Step 3: Find an employer. Once you have chosen a career, you must find an employer to hire you. Approach this step like any other job search: by networking, scanning want ads and job boards, and talking to guidance and career counsellors. And remember that up to 80% of all job openings are never advertised! Step 4: Register as an apprentice. With the first three steps behind you, you’re ready to register as an apprentice. Follow the steps established by the apprenticeship authority in your province or territory, and sign the required contract with your employer. The contract will outline the length of the training program, the skills that must be acquired, your work responsibilities and your salary. Step 5: Start your career! After completing the program requirements and passing the required exam(s) for your chosen occupation, you’ll receive a Certificate of Qualification. Congratulations! CO By Debbie Miller The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum-Forum canadien sur l’apprentissage (CAF-FCA) is a not-for-profit, multi-partite organization that plays an integral role in bringing together the key players within the apprenticeship community, including government, business, labour, the Inter-Provincial Alliance of Board Chairs, educators and equity groups. The CAFFCA works to strengthen relationships, provide opportunities to discuss the challenges facing apprenticeship training in Canada, and help develop solutions to address those challenges. For more information: Canadian Apprenticeship ForumForum canadien sur l’apprentissage 116 Albert Street, Suite 812 Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G3 Debbie Miller, Communications Manager Tel: 613-235-4004 ext. 207 Email:

Step 2: Find a career path that suits you. There are almost 300 apprenticeship programs in Canada, but which one is for you? Assessing your interests, skills and aptitudes—as well as your hopes for the future—is never an easy process. Consult your school’s guidance or career counsellor, your parents, and your local apprenticeship office.

Did you know? Some helpful tips Pre-apprenticeship training is available in some regions. These work placements allow students who are still in high school to get a head start on their careers while earning school credits at the same time! Anyone can take an apprenticeship. And age doesn’t matter, though many young people start their training right after high school. Apprenticeships cost very little compared to most post-secondary training options. Generally, tuition costs are $200–$800 per session, depending on the trade and the province/territory. Other costs may include books, equipment, tools and living expenses. The debt load for apprenticeship training is usually quite low. Remember: you “earn while you learn.” Many apprentices complete their training with no debt. Apprenticeship training has a long history as a model for work-based learning. The ancient Greek, Roman and Babylonian civilizations used apprenticeship as a way to pass on knowledge and skills. Apprenticeship systems as we recognize them today originated with the medieval craft guilds of Europe. Want to know more? Information on apprenticeship and skilled trades careers. Information on apprenticeship training and how to get started. Information about Red Seal trades and contact information for provincial and territorial apprenticeship offices. Information about apprenticeship training requirements in each province and territory. The Government of Canada’s National Career and Education Planning Tool.

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Your Path


ometimes it seems that life is a series of difficult decisions, such as which courses to take, which teams to join, where to volunteer— and now you’re being asked to decide on post-secondary education. Why are you being asked to decide? Well, it’s because this decision will have a big influence on the rest of your life. Now that I’ve scared you a bit (not my intent, I promise—keep reading, please!), you should be comforted to know that there are plenty of options, and once you figure out the path you’re on, this just might be one of the most exciting and fun times of your life.

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Get organized. Yes, you still have a million classes to conquer in your last year of high school. However, the point of all that is to help you move on to bigger and better things—so take the time to organize yourself! Set aside a folder for brochures and letters from schools, and bookmark websites or ranking pages on your computer. Remember to “go shopping” in your guidance office—they’ll have a lot of information to offer you. Meet the candidates “in person.” A university or college is just a building—it’s the people that set each institution apart. Events such as the Ontario University Fair ( are a great way to meet professors and students from dozens of schools. People can often tell you a lot more than a website or brochure, by both what they say and the impression they make on you. Take a few minutes alone at the fair or information session to organize your own thoughts—and be honest with yourself.


ow to figure out your path? I’m about to graduate from a top-ranked Canadian business school and my path is still changing almost every day. The point is to choose the academic institution that will fit with who you are and who you want to become. Once you figure that out, you can be assured that great opportunities will find you there. Your post-secondary education will have a big impact on your life, and you are likely to change in many ways. Academically: The degree programs, courses, professors, other students, libraries, research… all of these will change what you know, how you think and what interests you. Socially: You’ll meet hundreds, maybe thousands, of new people over just a few years. That’s sure to make you more comfortable with meeting people, and to give you a different view of yourself. More importantly, you’ll have a lot of fun. Professionally: You will likely begin to think seriously about a career during university. Your academic institution is probably one of the best places you’ll find for career training, prospective employers and learning about different career paths. I know that information is probably being thrown at you from every direction. So here are my top tips for selecting a school—all from my own experience as a 12th grader facing the application process four years ago.

Make some basic decisions. Living away or at home? Working in the summers or co-op terms during the year? Studying abroad for a semester or more? If you have any strong thoughts on topics like these—for example, a burning desire to study in Europe for a year—keep them in mind when looking at schools. They can become the deciding factor. Don’t listen to your friends too much. About half my high school graduating class all went to the same university—it must have been just like high school all over again! While you may think you just can’t live without your high school clique, this shouldn’t guide your decision. Your own goals, preferences and interests should be number one. Be ruthless. If you’ve worked hard to keep your marks high and extra-curriculars strong, why settle? Be critical when looking at a university or college. Do they give you the chance to meet employers you’d like to work with one day? Are the professors interesting enough to keep you awake? Visiting campuses and sitting in on classes will show you the truth that a glossy brochure won’t.

The point is to choose the academic institution that will fit with who you are and who you want to become. Once you figure that out, you can be assured that great opportunities will find you there.

This is the most important point, in my opinion. My original plan was to attend law school. So I looked at a few law programs and found that business school would be a strong background for my interests. I then looked for business schools associated with certain law schools. I found a school that would also allow me to study abroad—something I knew I wanted to do. This brought me to my decision to attend the Schulich School of Business at York University. Be flexible! Keeping your eyes, ears and mind open can help you find a different path with more opportunities. I ended up changing my path after a few years at Schulich. Finding my highest marks in accounting and finance, I started to attend information sessions at my school for major accounting firms. Through my school’s career centre, I was able to apply to firms and found a job with Deloitte, one of the world’s largest professional service firms. I then decided to pursue the Chartered Accountant (CA) designation. If I hadn’t chosen an institution with so many opportunities to learn about different careers, and professors who were willing to talk about different fields, I never would have found the path I’m on today. CO By Laura Di Paolo Schulich student, class of 2009 Deloitte summer intern, 2008

Consider life after graduation. Your career goals should inform your choice of academic institution. It can make everything a lot clearer if you work backward—where do you want to be in four years? In graduate school (such as law school or teachers college)? Starting your own business? Working? Travelling? Once you know where you eventually want to be, you can chart a course to help you get there.

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Get Involved! Stay Involved! Top 5 Benefits

... of getting involved, staying involved and gaining experience outside the classroom:

1. Gain career-related experience 2. Build a rĂŠsumĂŠ and references 3. Explore career interests and opportunities 4. Learn outside the classroom 5. Have fun and make new friends

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Canadian Plastics Sector Council Ad



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University may be the beginning of the rest of your life—and an awesome opportunity to reinvent yourself— but life doesn’t begin when you’re accepted. You can prepare for postsecondary success by getting involved now, as a high school student. It’s never too early to start becoming the person you want to be and taking opportunities to transform yourself through leadership, school and community involvement, and volunteering.

The value of experience – NOW Just as the academic portion of high school is vital in preparing for college or university, so is gaining experience through employment, extra-curricular involvement and volunteering. Your accomplishments in high school should entail much more than just good grades— being well-rounded is essential to your future educational success as well. Students progress into post-secondary education to improve themselves in the hopes of finding a job, and there’s no better way to gain knowledge and skills—and even more importantly, confidence— than through involvement in diverse, challenging and rewarding experiences outside the classroom. As a high school student, you have access to countless ways to discover your potential and develop your aptitudes. Getting involved in your school is a great way to: • Meet people and connect with your school as a whole. • Develop leadership skills through student council, clubs and groups. • Unite your peers and spread awareness about community causes through fundraising drives or community service projects. • Cultivate your artistic talents through getting involved with choir, band, drama or the school newspaper. Clearly, learning is not limited to the classroom. By taking on extra-curricular involvements in high school, you not only take advantage of fun and exciting opportunities for self-improvement, but also learn about balance and multitasking—essential skills for your busy life as a university student. Volunteering can be especially engaging and meaningful to your life and your future skill set. Although unpaid, volunteer work is just as important as employment for developing transferable skills and gaining crucial job experience. Students are increasingly discovering how volunteer experience opens

the door to jobs, post-secondary programs and other volunteer opportunities—and produces a well-rounded student, too. Volunteering demonstrates a conscious and deliberate decision to commit your time and energy to a project or cause, without remuneration, revealing your genuine desire to contribute positively. Never underestimate the value of volunteer work.

The value of experience – LATER When selecting post-secondary education, you may want to consider those institutions and programs that offer a variety of options to gain experience and build your résumé, ranging from volunteering to internships, study abroad and co-operative education options. The key is to seek out opportunities that will help you gain real-world experience outside the classroom. Be sure to check out the website of your preferred post-secondary institution. Here are more details to get you thinking: GETTING INVOLVED. There are countless ways to get involved at your post-secondary institution. Many activities offer you an opportunity to explore career interests, meet others, have fun and make connections. When selecting an institution, consider whether you want to continue with your high school activities, or perhaps to start fresh and try something new. Whatever your preference, a variety of options awaits you, from clubs and societies to leadership programs. Don’t miss out on these opportunities, as they are a great way to build your résumé and connect with like-minded people. VOLUNTEERING. Many students wonder about the value of volunteering. Rest assured that experience gained through volunteering is as important for your résumé as job experience. Post-secondary institutions often partner with local community organizations to offer a variety of volunteering opportunities to fit your individual passions. If you are volunteering now in high school, it’s easy to continue at college or university; if you have not volunteered in high school, your first post-secondary year is a great time to start. You’ll be glad you volunteered, knowing that you made a contribution to your community while gaining experience that may help you get a job. INTERNSHIPS AND FIELD PLACEMENTS. Some programs, such as education or pharmacy, offer you the opportunity to work in your chosen field either during a semester or over the summer. Internships and field placements may be paid or unpaid, but either

way they have much to offer. Besides gaining valuable work experience, you will be exposed to the professional environment, obtain references and build your network. You never know: your placement could even lead to a position upon graduation. STUDY ABROAD. Do you dream of seeing the world? Study abroad programs find educational placements for you at institutions around the world. Some colleges and universities offer both credit and non-credit programs. If you ask students who have studied abroad, they will tell you that it is a life-changing experience and one of the most rewarding things they have ever done. Studying abroad provides you with the opportunity to travel; learn a new language; expand your worldview; learn a new culture; increase your employment opportunities; take a break from your regular studies; enhance the value of your degree; and last but not least, make new friends around the world! Co-opERATIVE EDUCATION. The integration of classroom and laboratory study with planned and supervised periods of relevant employment is referred to as co-operative education. Students on co-op assignments generally receive pay from employers and may earn both academic and professional credits for the knowledge and skills they acquire. These working semesters are often referred to as work terms. A co-op placement can provide tremendous value to your degree or diploma. Opportunities such as internships, study abroad programs and co-ops can be very valuable during your years at college and university. First, find a program that you are interested in and find out whether it is offered at your chosen post-secondary institution. Then prepare to open up to a whole new world of experience, travel and success! Remember, the notion that life starts after graduation is a fallacy. It is important that you make the most of your high school education and carry that through to your post-secondary studies. Always be prepared to make the most of your life and your education. CO By Zaren Healey White, Denise Hooper and Kim Kelly Memorial University of Newfoundland

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you May Want to Lawyer, Doctor or



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o Be a Teacher…


s a career counsellor working at one of Canada’s largest universities, I speak with students interested in one of the “Big Three” professions on a near-daily basis. Though so many express interest, however, few have a clear understanding of what’s required to enter these professions.

Take the time to learn more Specifically, students are often unaware that entry into many professions, including the “Big Three,” requires acceptance into a competitive professional program after completion of an undergraduate degree. Although it may seem daunting to think about what will follow your bachelor’s degree before you’ve even begun your first year, take a few minutes to educate yourself about professional schools so you can avoid the pitfalls of the uniformed.

Undergraduate, graduate and professional programs—what’s the difference? When you are working towards your bachelor’s degree, you are completing studies at the undergraduate level. Because many occupations require education beyond this level, increasing numbers of students are choosing enrol in graduate or professional programs.

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doctors “Lawyers, and teachers join

a host of other professionals, such as occupational therapists, architects, and social workers, who must complete a professional school program to qualify for work in that field.

Generally speaking, graduate programs such as master’s or Ph.D. programs tend to be academically focused, while professional programs such as dentistry or pharmacy emphasize specialized skills and qualifications for a specific profession. Lawyers, doctors and teachers join a host of other professionals, such as occupational therapists, architects and social workers, who must complete a professional program to qualify for work in that field. Visit your university career centre during your first year to research the educational prerequisites for the career you’re considering.

So which undergraduate degree should I take? A bachelor’s degree is the basic requirement for most professional programs. Many programs will accept applications after the second or third year of study; however, most prefer that the student has completed a four-year degree prior to being accepted. But while most programs request a completed bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite, many do not specify a particular major. This is good news for students. That said, most programs have requirements that may be more easily met within a particular field of study. But there is greater flexibility in your choice of major than you may realize. For example, you can enter a law program with a science degree, or a social work program with a commerce degree. This isn’t to say it would be easy to make such a transition, but it is certainly possible provided you gather the necessary prerequisite and experiential requirements. Choosing a major that interests you, rather than one you think professional programs favour, will help you maintain a strong grade point average (GPA). Admissions committees may be flexible on majors, but they are not flexible on grades.

What will I need to apply? Application requirements are unique to each school and will likely be clearly posted on each’s 18


website. Students are encouraged to review these requirements carefully. The following is an overview of application components that, in addition to completion of a bachelor’s degree and fulfilling prerequisites, are common to most professional programs. GPA: After completion of a bachelor’s degree, the most common prerequisite to be met is a GPA requirement. All programs have a minimum GPA that must be met in order to be eligible for consideration; however, a competitive GPA is generally at least one grade higher than the minimum posted requirements. First-year students should be conscious that while some professional programs will focus on your grades in your final two years of study, almost all consider your cumulative GPA (all years of study) in the initial screening process. This means that your grades as early as the first term of your first year will be included in your GPA calculation when applying to a professional program in your final year. Knowing this, organize your time and commitments wisely, particularly in your first year of studies. The best strategy is to settle in academically and get accustomed to the learning environment and demands before building your experiential profile through your work, volunteer and extra-curricular commitments. Admissions Tests: Some professional programs, such as law, medical and dental schools, require completion of a standardized test such as the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and DAT (Dental Admission Test) as a part of the admissions requirements. If an admissions test is required, your scores, in conjunction with your GPA, are critical components of the initial screening process. For this reason, find out early if your program has an admission test and give yourself ample time to prepare. Programs that require applicants to take a test will clearly state so in their admissions information. If you are unsure, contact the program directly or visit your career centre for assistance. Experience: Well-rounded students who show leadership qualities, interpersonal skills, the ability to communicate well and the capacity to balance commitments will have an edge in the application process. Involvement in extra-curricular activities can enhance your application, provided you target your experiences wisely and do not get involved at the risk of your grades.

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Professional programs generally prefer to see experiences related to the profession you are interested in joining and some, such as teachers’ college, demand it. As such, it is a good idea to focus on obtaining experiences related to your chosen profession both to enhance your application and to confirm your interest in the area before entering it.

What are my chances of getting in? Competition for admission to professional programs is intense. For example, medical programs may receive over 3,000 applications for 143 positions and law programs up to 2,500 for 160 positions. This is not to say that you shouldn’t aim to be one of those students who are accepted—it is to say you should be strategic about selecting your undergraduate major to be one that you enjoy and excel in, and that will prepare you for other options. Whether you are preparing for graduate school, a professional program or the workforce, the best preparation is one that includes a back-up plan.

What should I do to prepare? Research your chosen profession to find out if a professional program is required and make sure you are aware of the admission requirements, prerequisites and the application process early, to ensure you’re on the right track. Approach your university career centre for support conducting your research and strategizing your preparation. In addition to providing resources to help you research professional programs, your career centre can help you explore your chosen profession to ensure that it’s a good fit for you before you commit to it as well as expose you to professions you may not have considered yet. Talk to your career centre representatives to explore mentoring, volunteering and/or job shadowing opportunities, and use the resources they provide to explore both your chosen profession and alternate options. Residences, off-campus associations, faculty departments and student services such as career and counselling centres are there to support you in your academic and personal achievements. Use the resources available to you to help you through your undergraduate degree and prepare you for life afterwards. CO By Rebecca Markey Career Counsellor University of Toronto Mississauga

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Living on OR




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Not all residences are created equal! Schools may offer students a variety of housing options, from the traditional “dormitory style” to apartments or townhouses. Most schools encourage you to visit their residences to get a sense of whether you would like to live there. If you visit, ask other students how they feel about their home away from home.

Living off campus can have its perks, too! 1. Fewer rules and restrictions. 2. It can be cheaper if you have roommates. 3. More space, more quiet and more privacy. 4. Fewer people means fewer distractions.

Larger urban centres may provide you with more living options and flexibility, especially if you already have a roommate or two in mind. If you are moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone, living in residence can offer you the best opportunity to get to know some new people.

Pros of living in “rez”: 1. You’re surrounded by other new students experiencing university/college for the first time, just like you.

Now that you’ve narrowed down the list of universities or colleges you want to apply to, your next big decision will be whether you should live on campus (in residence or “rez”) or off campus. Some schools located in larger urban areas have limited spaces in residence, and reserve them only for first-year students or for students coming from afar. You may need to indicate your intention to live in residence on your application.

How to decide which is best? There are advantages and disadvantages to both living in residence and renting an apartment. You’ll need to do your homework before you make a decision. Here are some questions you should be asking: 1. Are places in residence guaranteed for all first-year students? How do I apply? 2. Are all residences located on or within walking distance of the main campus? 3. Are there separate floors/buildings for men and women? 4. What are my options: traditional dormitory or shared apartment? Single or double room? 5. What facilities are available? Is there a dining hall? How does the meal plan work? 6. What are the fees, if any? 7. What is the vacancy rate (availability of apartments) in my new city?

2. It’s a great way to connect with international students and others coming from afar. 3. They’re usually closest buildings to classes, so no commute! 4. Common rooms mean you never have to be alone. 5. Meal plans mean you don’t have to cook if you don’t want to. 6. Furniture is usually included. 7. Live-in study partners and friends: there’s always someone to talk to. 8. Safety in numbers: there are almost always students walking to and from “rez.”

Cons of living in “rez”: 1. You are never alone...!

but there’s a flip side: 1. M  ore responsibility: you’ll be paying your own bills. 2. Commuting to get to school. 3. You may need to make more effort to meet new people. 4. 12-month leases (in some provinces). Many post-secondary institutions have an off-campus housing office or services to help new and returning students find appropriate housing. They may offer rental listings and tips on where to look and what important questions to ask, as well as general information on costs and legal responsibilities (tenants and landlords) in that province. They often also offer suggestions on how to find a roommate. Go to the website of your school of choice and search for “housing” or “off-campus housing.” Think about what is most important to you in a housing scenario and what type of environment would best ensure your academic success. Be honest with yourself and your potential roommates about your habits and expectations. CO By Darlene Hnatchuk Industry Liaison Manager Engineering Career Centre Faculty of Engineering, McGill University

2. Smaller spaces, shared bedrooms and shared bathrooms. 3. Noise: you may need to spend more time at the library just to get peace and quiet.

Do I get to choose my roommates in residence? Sometimes. Some schools will try to accommodate your request for a specific roommate. Other schools ask all applicants to complete a lifestyle questionnaire and then try to make the best match, based on preferences in regards to things like noise level, cleanliness and sleep habits, for example. Some schools offer scholarship recipients first options on private rooms—another good reason to study hard!

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Want a Great Job When You Graduate? $

Why are you considering post-secondary education? If it’s to get a great job when you graduate, then we need to talk not only about your transition into a post-secondary institution, but also about your transition out of that trades program, college or university and into the workforce. Why? A recent statistic from showed that 48% of new graduates immediately move home with their parents. Why? Because most can’t find a job! Why? Because they did not properly prepare for the workforce transition. Why? Likely because they had not determined a clear occupational or professional career area! Let’s explore this!

Advice from an expert on the school-to-career transition

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Do you think you that all you need is a degree or a diploma to land a great job with career potential? After all, isn’t that what your parents, teachers and counsellors have been telling you? They are correct in that you need postsecondary education—but in today’s world, one job posting with a great employer could yield 1000+ submissions. Would your résumé stand a chance of being put in the “interview” pile? I want to explain how you can become someone who not only gets that interview, but has multiple job offers waiting on graduation day. These days, regardless of the occupational, technical or professional field, there is postsecondary education and training available. Degrees, diplomas and apprenticeship certificates are very important, yet they are only half of the equation. In today’s environment, employers have a lot of talent to choose from. The best employers hire the best-prepared graduates! So what do the best employers look for? • Students who have graduated from a post-secondary institution (career college, community college, technical school, trades program, university) • Relevant work experience • Time management, stress management and leadership skills • Strong verbal and written communication skills • The ability to take initiative (seeing what needs to be done and doing it without being told) • Creative problem solving skills Most of the above are things you can’t learn from a textbook or trades program. It requires balancing your formal and informal learning. What is formal and informal learning? Formal learning is what you get primarily from your academic studies in school. Doing assignments and experiments, writing essays and reading textbooks are all great examples of formal learning. Informal learning is what you learn from daily interaction with people and from life experiences in general. You cannot learn many of the critical skills and qualities I noted above from a textbook—you have to learn them from life experience. So how do you gain it?

Informal learning is what you learn from daily interaction with people and from life experiences in general.

There are three main ways to gain informal learning: 1. Work experience: part-time jobs, summer jobs, co-op education programs, apprenticeships 2.Co-curricular activities: activities you can get involved with on your school’s campus, such as student council, clubs, sports 3. Extra-curricular activities: activities you can get involved with in your community, such as volunteering for your favourite charity Why is informal learning so important? Because you may actually be evaluated on a loose rating scale like the one below by employers looking to see if your formal and informal learning are balanced. There are 100 points available, broken out as follows: Graduating with a degree/diploma Grades Relevant skills and experience

40 10 50

You could have a straight A average, yet if you have no relevant skills and experience, the best you can do is 50 points. Please remember this: the less time and money employers have to invest in training you, and the higher your score on their rating scale, the more attractive you become to them! That means if you want to be an accountant, you have a degree in accounting as well as some accounting work experience. If you want to be an auto mechanic, you may have a post-secondary diploma or apprenticeship certificate, and practical experience working on car engines. While academic training is important, when you graduate from school you won’t be looking at books anymore. However, you will have to juggle many things at once and deal with people (e.g., customers, co-workers). That is why it’s also very important that you get involved on your campus or in your community to build your time, stress and people management skills. This is good information, but what if you don’t know what you want to do yet? To help you get focused and answer that, I have three “reality check” questions that can apply whenever you come to a fork in the road in your life, as well as a couple of quick exercises. The reality check questions are: 1. Where am I now? 2. Where do I want to go? 3. How am I going to get there? Question #1 is easy to answer. Questions #2 and #3 aren’t so easy. If you don’t know where you want to go in life, how can you put a plan in place to get there? It’s like hopping in the car

Degrees, diplomas and apprenticeship certificates are very important, yet they are only half of the equation.

and having a map in front of you with no clue where your final destination is. That is why so many students move home with their parents! Too many went to college or university because they were told it was the right thing to do. However, they never figured out what they were passionate about and, as a result, bounced from job to job in their twenties until they could figure it out. To help you with that, I want you to ask yourself three things: 1. “Where do I want to see myself in 25 years?” Write down your thoughts. At least you now have a destination to shoot for. 2. “If I am going to get out of bed for the next 40 years to work, what would I love to do every day?” This will help you discover what you are passionate about. 3. “What are my strengths?” I have heard many people say “you can be whatever you want to be.” That’s true, but some of us are better at some things than others. For instance, I’m not mechanically inclined. I know others who are and make a better living than many university graduates! Find out what you are good at and work hard to become better at it, by both studying in school and applying what you learn outside of school. If you get out of bed to work for 40 years, it might as well be something you like and are good at too! These three questions lead me to the secret to success. What is it? The younger the age that you can figure out what you’re passionate about and what you’re good at, and the sooner you accept the responsibility to apply yourself to achieve the goals you’ve set, the happier you will be in life and your chosen career! There was a very key word in the last sentence—did you catch it? It was responsibility. Let’s talk about this for a moment. When you turn 18, the government says you are legally entitled to make your own decisions. Your parents are no longer responsible for your care. Too many students graduate and then blame their teachers and parents because they can’t find a good job—or even any job at all. You should not be one of them! At the end of the day, you must take full ownership in the decisions you make about your future.

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At the end of the day, you must take full ownership of 1) making decisions about your future, and 2) applying yourself to achieve your goals.

Two influences that may impact you are your friends and family. When I speak to teachers, every one says they have seen a student give up a chance at post-secondary education because they wanted to remain with a certain group of friends or continue to date a boyfriend or girlfriend. Every teacher has also seen a student who was passionate about pursuing a certain career path, yet whose wishes were over-ridden by their parents. If you know someone like this, please pose this question: twenty years from now, your friends will be married with their own families, and your parents will be enjoying their retirement. Will any of them want to hear that you have been unhappy at your job for 20 years because you chose to focus on making them happy when you were 18? The answer is NO! Make smart choices today knowing what’s at stake if you don’t apply yourself. One other thing: do you want to hear a very sad statistic regarding students taking responsibility? Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of speaking to over 10,000 teachers at various conferences. According to them, do you know what percentage of students apply themselves versus don’t apply themselves? They tell me only 25% of their students work hard and apply themselves. The other 75% just show up or don’t care. When it comes to transitioning to the workforce, if you want to make good money, you need to be one of those people who applied themselves to balancing their formal and informal learning! There are many great employment opportunities every year with great employers. The challenge you face is that there are many students competing for those opportunities. You must remember that when it comes time to graduate and enter the workforce, you will not only be competing for the same opportunities with students from your campus—you’ll be competing with students from across Canada! While some students are only concerned the party this Saturday night, the ones who secure the best employment opportunities are thinking about how their résumé will get to the top of the pile. Start preparing now! Good luck! CO By John R. Jell For more information about John R. Jell, or to order copies of his acclaimed books that discuss all of the above in greater detail, please go to

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school No Doubt and indie bands that no one has ever heard of. I dress in black and red, I’m tattooed, I like weird movies. I’ve always thrived on being unique, but I honestly thought I’d find at least one other person like me at college. Of course, I’m not even a month into my college career, so I might be jumping the gun. I applied to the Journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in late September 2007. At the same time, I applied to live in the college’s new(ish) dorm building, Glendenning Hall. Instead of squishing hundreds of students into tiny jail cells, they built an apartment building to serve about 100 students. Each unit has two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. I got into both the program and the dorm and I’m doing pretty good. While I’m mostly trained in magazine writing and experienced in blogging, the course is designed to make each student know everything there is to know about writing for a newspaper. But I’m not too picky about where I work. If I’m getting paid for it? Newspaper, magazine, website, blog, the side of a wall down a dark alley, whatever—I’m down with anything.

➥ Photo by Samantha McKinnon

As I write this, my roommate and some of our mutual friends are in the second bedroom of our dorm apartment. I had a stressful evening so I didn’t feel like taking part in their giggle-fest. At age 20, I sometimes feel a little too old for my 18-year-old friends, freshly plucked from high school and dropped into the wilds of college life.

Anyway, after my older brother moved out of the family home several years ago, I essentially became an only child. So, moving into a dorm with a complete stranger was a bit daunting. We didn’t even make contact until two weeks before the official move-in day. When we finally met, all I knew about the girl was that she was just 18 (making me seem like a dinosaur in comparison), very tall (making me seem even shorter in comparion), a Culinary Arts student (making my cooking seem pathetic), a former Catholic school girl (making me seem like an atheist) and from Ottawa (making me look like a country bumpkin).

I should explain something: fitting in during my high school years was a bit difficult. I finally found a place where I belonged when I became involved in musical theatre. Almost all of my friends were either theatre geeks or musicians in the school band. We were freaks and we knew it. And we were proud.

I did the wrong thing. I jumped to conclusions. I judged her character before I even met her. I assumed she would be freaked out by my posters of Sweeney Todd, Chicago, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Dexter, as well as my creepy action figure collection. I assumed she’d be uptight, with no sense of humor, and that she’d want to switch rooms with someone else immediately.

I thought I’d get to college, find some artsy people and fit into that type of clique again. But it didn’t turn out that way. I’ve discovered that I’m still a bit of a freak. Most of my new college friends seem very feminine, while I’m a tomboy and tend to have a potty mouth. While they listen to the Pussycat Dolls and Rihanna, my earphones are blasting Death Cab for Cutie, old

It’s been about three weeks and we’ve become pretty close. She’s loyal to her faith, attending mass on Sunday evenings and dressing modestly (especially in comparison with a lot of college girls, I might add). However, she’s also weirdly funny and silly and an all-’round good person. She’s a lot more mature than some of the fresh-from-high-school lot, which I’m

thankful for. I’m also thankful for the fact that she likes to bake and is helping me become a better cook! About two weeks after meeting my roommate, she admitted to making judgements about my character, too. She thought I was this weird little emo girl. “But you’re not,” she said. “You’re just this little girl who giggles a lot.” And I guess she’s right on that. I do giggle a lot. In fact, I’ve giggled more in the past three weeks than I have ever giggled in my entire life. I’m so happy here. For me, college so far has been a wild and crazy ride—and I’ve still got much, much more ahead of me.

I thought I’d get to “college, find some

artsy people and fit into that type of clique again. But it didn’t turn out that way. I’ve discovered that I’m still a bit of a freak.

I wrote an article for the myUsearch blog that I think new college students might benefit from: “15 Lessons From My 1st Week of College.” ( CO By Jillianne Hamilton Jillianne Hamilton is a Nova Scotia writer and blogger currently studying Journalism at Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. She maintains a college blog, Kill Jill Goes To College (http://killjill., and writes articles for the myUsearch blog ( And she loves chocolate cheesecake a little too much.

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Being heavily “dependent on

human resources, the Hospitality and Tourism industry is a sensible choice for both short and long term career opportunities. Steady growth has occurred for Canadians obtaining employment in the industry.

rollercoaster, watch a ball game or visit Canada’s biggest mall. Come on, let’s have some fun! If you examine each sector more closely, you will find a number of similarities and interdependence. One major advantage of working in the hospitality and tourism industry is that it allows you to develop transferable skills that are in demand, and rewards your ability to transition easily from one sector to another. These skills are highly valued and sought after by employers across the country.

You may even be working in hospitality and tourism right now without realizing it. Young men and women across Canada who are eager to enter the workforce often find themselves employed in entry-level positions in various sectors of the industry.

Being heavily dependent on human resources, the industry is a fertile ground for both shortand long-term career opportunities. The rate of Canadians employed in hospitality and tourism has grown steadily. According to Statistics Canada, the Accommodations and Food Service sector employed 1 million people in 2003 and increased to 1.7 million in 2007, which represents a 6% increase in jobs.

Hospitality and tourism offers an enormous variety of full-time, part-time and seasonal employment. The eight sectors of the industry, although diverse, are highly dependent upon each other. By taking a closer look at each, you may find that your career of choice is in the industry too!

However, the need for a highly skilled and educated workforce has never been so important. A Toronto Star article dated June 19, 2007, states: “Currently employing more than 1.7 million people, Canada’s hospitality sector will need another 300,000 professionals by 2015 if it is to maintain its competitive and global edge.”

1. Accommodations: Where will you sleep tonight? Hotels, motels, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts take care of these needs

If you are “considering a

2. Food and Beverage: Feeling hungry? Satisfy your appetite at a fine restaurant, watch the big game at the local pub or grab a bite on the go. 3. Transportation: We have planes, trains and automobiles to get you where you want to go. 4. Travel Trade: Not sure how get there from here? Let us handle all the details over the telephone or online. 5. Adventure Tourism and Recreation: Take a hike, go golfing or get wet white-water rafting. Whatever you prefer, the great outdoors has a lot to offer. 6. Events and Conferences: Have you ever wondered how so many people get together for a meeting, car show or music festival? 7. Tourism Services: Government and private agencies who know what goes on in the industry. 8. Attractions: Take a ride on your favourite



rewarding and challenging career in the hospitality and tourism industry, talk to a Culinary Arts or Hospitality teacher. It’s a good bet that they worked in one of the eight sectors of tourism.

In order to meet the demand for a highly skilled hospitality and tourism workforce in Canada, the educational sector and the industry have answered the call to make significant investment. In Toronto, George Brown College will open a 3,200-square-foot storefront restaurant and add 18,000 square feet of additional teaching facilities to its Centre for Hospitality and Tourism over the next two years. Along with the $20 million physical expansion, the school will also introduce new academic programs.

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But the investment doesn’t stop with bricks and mortar. May 2006 witnessed the launch of a new College Entrance Scholarship by the Toronto Regional Board of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association. The Board recognized the importance of assisting high school students who choose to enter the fields of Culinary Management or Food and Beverage Management in Ontario community colleges or universities. “What’s unique about this program is that it is only open to GTA students,” says Jason Cheskes, President of the Toronto Region of the ORHMA. Scholarships are available to students in the following regions: Toronto, Durham, Peel, York, Halton and Hamilton. “The likelihood of graduates returning to the GTA after completing their studies is very high. In addition to supporting young students, the ORHMA acknowledges that this is a great way to give back to the industry.” Initiatives like this are a shining example of the commitment that ORHMA has to the industry and its future. There are a number of excellent web resources with more information on the hospitality and tourism in Canada. One of my favourites is the Canadian Youth Employment Services in Brandon, Manitoba, which has a comprehensive site on the eight sectors of tourism with some excellent links: If you are considering a rewarding and challenging career in the hospitality and tourism industry, talk to a Culinary Arts or Hospitality instructor. Consider a co-op placement as well. Restaurants, hotels, travel agencies and other small related businesses in the industry are often eager to take on students at their establishments. A co-op placement is one of the best ways to decide if the industry is the right place for you. Career planning is a daunting task. Why not consider Hospitality and Tourism one of your first choices? CO By Robbie Stewart Robbie Stewart is a professional educator with the Durham District School Board. He teaches Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism programs at G.L. Roberts CVI in Oshawa, Ontario. He is also a Regional Director with the ORHMA Greater Toronto Region.

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Conversations with Canadian College Students Miranda, Emma, Krysta and Alix discuss their experiences as college students. Emma is attending Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Ontario. Miranda, Krysta and Alix are students at Bow Valley College in Alberta. ➥ From left to right: Alix, Krysta and Miranda.

What are you studying and what do you hope to do when you graduate? Miranda: I am in the Interior Decorating Diploma program. I will be graduating in two years, in the spring of 2010, and am very excited to start my career in interior decorating soon afterwards. Emma: Right now I am studying esthetics, but my plan is to come back and take marketing. There are many options for me in my field, including working on a cruise ship, in a spa, and as a sales rep for certain products, which would also provide me the opportunity to do some travelling. Alix and Krysta: We’re in the Events Management Program and will graduate in April 2009.

How did you arrive at the decision to attend college? Why did you choose to attend college and not university? Miranda: Honestly, college is so much more personal. I feel so much more in touch with everyone. Although I have not attended any university, I know many who have who say that they always have huge classes and they know virtually no one, and that it’s hard to get in touch with their professors. Emma: First, I’d like to advise students to make their decision on the program itself, and not the location of the institution. The program itself is what you are going for, so think about the program and not where the school is located. I wanted to study esthetics and my research showed that Sheridan College had the best program for my needs.

Krysta: I wanted to go to Bow Valley College because it was the only post-secondary school that offered the program I wanted. Choosing to go to a college instead of university was easy and affordable. Alix: I chose to attend a college instead of a university because I like the smaller, more personable classes. I wanted to be able to interact with my instructor and receive one-onone time.

Is the workload harder than it was in high school? Miranda: I would definitely say that it is not harder, really. The only thing is that everything you do is worth more. But you definitely have to take what you learned in high school and apply it to every day here. I’m of course talking about those “awesome” study skills classes, CALM, time management, whatever you want to call it. The workload in college is not hard—you just have to budget your time and think about what’s most important and do that before everything else.

What do you like best about being in college and the courses that you’re taking? Miranda: What I like best is that I can be close with everyone in my class and I’m able to rely on them with pretty much anything. And one big thing is: we’re all here for the same reason! I also like that I learn new things every day—and that’s not just about school, I learn everyday life skills. My courses are all so engaging and challenging. The professors are friendly and they put huge perspectives on what you’re doing, so that no matter what you always know what is expected of you and the specifics of each assignment due. Emma: I like the freedom I have here at college, and the different atmosphere. I am making friends for life here, and I like the feeling of being responsible for myself and in control. What I like best about the courses that I am taking is the hands-on and practical experience I am gaining. What I found a challenge was moving away from home. It’s hard to be away from my family, as we are quite close.

Emma: Yes, I found that the workload is harder here than at high school because there is no one to chase after you. If you don’t do the work, you are the one who suffers. In my program, much of the work is “practical” and so there is no way to make it up if I miss a class. It’s important to keep your priorities in order. The other thing I found different here is having a certain class only once a week versus daily, like in high school.

Alix: My favourite thing about college is that you are treated and respected as an adult. All opinions are valued and acknowledged. I also like that my other classmates are all different ages and all have completely different backgrounds. It’s not like high school where everyone is at the same stage in life.

Alix: I wouldn’t say that the workload is harder. There is more of it, but I am much more interested in what I am doing now compared to what I was learning in high school.

Emma: At first it was difficult for me to make friends because I’m shy, a bit of an introvert. But one thing I will say is that you can’t be afraid… Here at college there is no judgement, people are looking for “you” and there is a real sense of community and friendship here.

Was it difficult to get to know people at college?

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Krysta: I personally did not find that it was hard getting to know people. Everyone in my class became close in the first week of college. It is great having our class close together because this makes it easier for group projects and individual speeches, which is always a scary thing to do in front of a big group of people that you do not know well.

Do you feel that staff and professors are really interested in you? Emma: Yes, the staff and professors are really supportive, both personally and professionally. They recognize their role in assisting students reach their career goals. Krysta: I do feel that the staff and instructors are interested in me. They really take the time to understand how we learn as a class as well as how each individual learns. I feel really comfortable when I have to ask for help. Sometimes you feel intimidated to ask your instructor for help, but because they take the time and know how you learn, it’s easier to approach them when you find the course challenging.

What did you do your first week of study? Miranda: I was introduced to my program with thorough hand-outs and information that I would need in the future. We engaged in activities that brought us to a point where we were familiar with a few people in class (and soon everyone in the class). We basically got to know the college experience, and all the important things there are to know. Like: Where do I get my books? How can I get involved? Where do I go for financial help? And what other support does Bow Valley have to offer? Emma: During the first week, I did a lot of exploring. I had an opportunity to really meet people, develop relationships, and click with others. I also purchased my books and got my timetable, which was a bit of a shock for me, as classes were once a week. Alix: In my first week of study we spent a lot of time getting to know each other through interactive games and hands-on activities.

What would you want to share with high school students considering college? Emma: What I would like to advise high school students coming to college is this: wherever you go, take advantage of the services and events offered to you, such as Frosh Week activities. Get to know people and find ways to get involved. There are lots of services available for you, such as counselling if you need someone to talk to. Keep your priorities straight and get the academics out of the way first. There is plenty of time for other things.

forward to seeing my life take off into an area of creativity, satisfaction, beauty, professionalism. There’s nothing better than being in college for interior decorating and knowing that I’m going to come out of it with skills to help make me successful! Krysta: The thing that I look forward to the most is combining everything I have learned in the course of two years and bringing that knowledge to the table when I’m out there in the workforce. I look forward to being more educated in the special events area, and I cannot wait to get out there and show off my skills. Alix: I am most looking forward to the fact that what I am taking now will equip me with the knowledge and information I need to know to enter the real world and do what I really want to do most. CO

What are you looking forward to the most about your program? Miranda: What else—the end of it! That’s where I want to be, because that marks the beginning of my dream career! But as for specifics, I’m really looking forward to getting to know the cultures of our world, learning what different people are out there and how each of their styles is unique and different! I really look forward to seeing how my knowledge is going to grow and the opportunities that will present themselves. I go into each day knowing that there’s something new for me to learn and apply to what I already know—and that’s really exciting. I also look forward to colours, fabrics, furniture and other materials and making them fit together in an aesthetically pleasing manner. I look

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to improving standard of he in your commu First Nations students choosing a health care profession will make a difference to you and to the people who need care.



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Gift of Words

ontribute the ealth care unity.

“I am a Mohawk from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory and I am a paediatrician. I work at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and on several Cree reserves in the James Bay region, and on the Mohawk reserves near Montreal. Medicine is a very tough job, but it is worth every minute of it. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to go through all the studying, long hours and exams. Once all your studies are done, [however,] you feel like you can accomplish anything…” says Kent Saylor, M.D. Source: NAHO Health Careers, 2005 “As a social worker, it has been my great honour to join hands with those working in health care to support Aboriginal concepts in health for communities and individuals… [C]hoosing a career in health means choosing to make a difference by affirming the ability of Aboriginal people to make the best health care decisions for themselves and by being a positive role model for the generations of Aboriginal children and young people to come…” says Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Care Society of Canada. Did you know… that recent studies have shown that all jurisdictions in Canada are experiencing shortages of health care providers? These studies have clearly demonstrated that without concerted efforts to increase the number of students entering into health care professions, the health care system will be in a state of serious shortage in the next decade. Did you know… that there are more than 50 different health care professions in Canada and that First Nations communities need workers in all areas of health care? These include medicine, nursing (RN, RPN), mental health, psychology, midwifery, dentistry, nutrition, addictions, gerontology, public health, social work, pharmacy, home health care and administration. Did you know… that the Canadian Nurses Association estimated that of the 258,000 registered nurses working in Canada in 2003, only 1,200 were First Nations, Inuit and Métis nurses? Did you know… that there are an estimated number of 150 First Nations, Inuit and Métis physicians in Canada and there needs to be at least 700 to ensure equitable representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis physicians in the health care workforce? Did you know… that Aboriginal leaders, provinces, territories and the federal government have noted that the health care system is not adequately meeting the needs of Canadians and, to a greater degree, those of First Nations?

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Did you know… that in 2003, federal funding was committed to a panCanadian Health Human Resources Strategy in order to help secure and maintain a stable and optimal health care workforce in Canada, and support health care renewal? Did you know… that in 2004, federal funds were committed to the Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative (AHHRI) to specifically target First Nations, Inuit and Métis health care providers, and find ways to make the health care system more responsive to the needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people? Did you know… that the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) is working closely with First Nations’ Political Territorial Organizations, Independent First Nations as well as with the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada? This work is in the area of AHHRI on initiatives such as: • Increasing the number of First Nations who are aware of health care professions as viable career options, focusing particularly on youth awareness • Increasing the number of First Nations students entering into and succeeding in health career studies •Increasing the number of post-secondary institutions that are supportive of and conducive of First Nations students in health career studies (e.g., with culturally appropriate curriculum, student support, access programs, mentorship and reduced barriers to admissions) Some AHHRI-funded activities that are currently taking place in Ontario to promote, recruit, retain and support First Nations students in the area of health career studies include: • Research on the current status of First Nations youth and education levels for maths and sciences • Promotion of maths and sciences by hosting various youth camps • Promotion of health care professions among youth: career and education fairs, and development of strategies • Post-secondary institutions that have created bridging, support, access and mentorship programs • Various role model programs that are being developed to acknowledge and honour First Nations health care students in Ontario • Incentives programs such as bursaries, scholarships and awards to First Nations students in/entering a health care-related program • And so on… “There is a critical shortage of Aboriginal peoples in science and healthrelated fields. If we are to have meaningful control of programs and services in an era of self-government, it is paramount that we have a pool of resource people with a balanced education background of the highest quality,” says Herman Michell Cree, BA, M.Ed. Source: University Affairs, November 2001 Are you a secondary student? Are you of First Nations ancestry? Are you unsure of the career path you want to take? Have you considered a health care profession? If you are interested in a health care profession, you will need to consider enrolling in courses such as maths and sciences. You can also consult with your high school guidance counsellor who can assist you in making the right choices towards a health care profession. You can do it. You can make a difference. CO Do you know someone who is in the health care profession? Do you consider them a role model? You can nominate them today by contacting Pam Burton, AHHRI Coordinator, Chiefs of Ontario, at By Pam Burton

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: s r e Gapp Taking time off be school and post-se studies



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etween high econdary

Taking time off between high school and post-secondary education is often a pragmatic decision on the part of Canadian students who need to earn money to fund their post-secondary studies. Delaying post-secondary enrolment carries both risks and benefits, but earning a post-secondary credential is clearly beneficial— whether or not students delay their initial enrolment.

Educational pathways among young Canadians Taking a “gap year” between high school and post-secondary education is a common phenomenon in the United Kingdom and Australia. This practice is less common in Canada, but 27.8% of young Canadians delay their post-secondary studies for at least four months after graduating from high school (see Figure 1). These students are known as “gappers.”

Why students delay enrolment Students delay the start of their post-secondary studies for many different reasons—to travel, to improve their academic preparation, to decide what they want to study—but financial considerations appear to be among the most important. Students from lower-income families are more likely to delay their entry into post-secondary studies. The same is true for students without scholarships, grants or bursaries and for students who worked more than 20 hours per week during high school. These findings suggest that many gappers take some extra time after high school to earn money in order to fund their post-secondary studies.

Risks and benefits of taking time off between high school and post-secondary education In terms of labour market outcomes, there are both risks and benefits for gappers. In 2003, the employment rate among 22- to 24-year-old university graduates who took time off before university was 87.5%, whereas the rate for their non-gapper counterparts was 79.6%. However, non-gappers earned more than gappers in their first few years after completing their post-secondary educations. For example, in 2003, the median salary for 22- to 24-year-old non-gapper university graduates was $85 more per week than their gapper counterparts (see Figure 2).

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All students should have the opportunity to make the choice that best suits their needs and be supported in their learning goals, whether they choose a direct or delayed entry pathway into post-secondary education.

The most likely explanation for these differences is that gappers are more employable immediately after graduation because they finish their post-secondary studies with more experience in the work force. Non-gappers, on the other hand, finish their post-secondary studies earlier and have more time to reap the income-based rewards of their post-secondary credentials. While there is very limited empirical evidence, some research suggests that a gap year can provide students with ‘soft skills,’ such as interpersonal, communication and leadership skills, that employers covet. For example, a survey of U.K. companies in 2000 found that 88% of respondents felt that a well-structured gap year helped provide participants with ‘soft skills’ typically lacking in university graduates. Although the evidence supporting this idea is largely anecdotal or based on small surveys, gap years may foster skills that offer students a competitive advantage when applying for post-graduation employment.

On the academic side, there are also risks and benefits for gappers. Post-secondary persistence (whether students complete their program) is an important concern for post-secondary students and institutions. In the United States, researchers have found that, even after controlling for socioeconomic and academic characteristics, gappers are less likely to complete their post-secondary studies than non-gappers. On the other hand, data from Australia suggest that gappers are more academically successful than non-gappers. Data from the 2002 to 2004 cohorts of first-year students at the University of Western Australia show that gapper grades were 2.3% higher than non-gapper grades. It is unclear whether Canadian gappers face similar risks of non-completion or similar academic advantages, but the international data suggest that the academic risks and benefits of delayed post-secondary enrolment are evenly balanced. The same appears to be true for the labour-market risks and benefits. There is, however, a clear benefit associated with earning a post-secondary credential for all students—regardless of the pathway they follow into their post-secondary studies. In 2006, employment rates for Canadians aged 20 to 24 were 9 percentage points higher for those with a post-secondary credential than for those without. As well, in 2005, the median earnings of Canadian university graduates were 92% higher than those without a university credential. Other research indicates that young Canadians with post-secondary credentials find better jobs, earn more money, receive better employment benefits, and report higher job satisfaction than those without a post-secondary credential.

Given the clear advantages of post-secondary education, it is important to support successful transitions to higher education for students who delay their post-secondary enrolment.

Lessons in Learning: Supporting the gappers’ return to education Deferred enrolment is one approach that allows students extra time before beginning their post-secondary studies, while ensuring that they maintain tangible ties with post-secondary education. Deferred enrolment requires support on the part of post-secondary institutions. Some universities around the world have adopted this practice and explicitly suggest the option of enrolment deferral for their applicants. For example, Princeton University has embraced the notion of a gap year as a way to offer a break to high-achieving students, as well as to give students an opportunity to volunteer while learning about the world. Princeton plans to have a program in place by 2009 that would allow up to 10% of the incoming class to complete social work around the world prior to beginning their studies. The program may also include financial assistance for students during their gap year, although the gap year will not count toward academic credit. Bursaries can also be an effective way to support students in their return to education following a gap year. To support gap-year opportunities for lower-income students, bursaries can be awarded upon acceptance into a post-secondary institution. The bursaries can then be partially disbursed prior to and during the gap year with the remainder of the

Figure 1: Proportion of students following various pathways after high school, by province

Figure 2: Median weekly earnings for gappers and non-gappers








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480 NLPE











480 College

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* Non-gappers go directly to post-secondary education after high school. Source: 2004 Youth in Transition Survey, Statistics Canada and Human Resources and Social Development Canada. From Hango, 2008.

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bursary disbursed upon enrolment in firstyear classes. Typically, bursaries are only awarded to students entering or continuing a post-secondary program, but extending these awards to gap-year students, on a partially deferred basis, allows lower-income students the opportunity to take a gap year while simultaneously providing a strong incentive to return to formal education. Princeton’s experience over the coming years may offer a best-practice model in this area for other institutions to follow. Providing bursaries is not restricted to universities: Deloitte, a financial services company in the United Kingdom, has established a program called the Deloitte Scholar Scheme. This program allows high school graduates to take a gap year that includes nine months of paid employment with Deloitte, a post-employment bursary, and annual bursaries during the student’s university studies. The University of Tasmania will begin a program in 2009 that provides financial assistance in the form of scholarships to students completing their first year so that students may take a



data “International suggest that the

academic risks and benefits of delayed post-secondary enrolment are evenly balanced. The same appears to be true for the labour-market risks and benefits.

gap year overseas. Part of the total aid will be available prior to the gap year to assist with travel expenses, while the remainder will be paid upon the student’s resumption of studies.The funding structure at the University of Tasmania is designed to support a gap year after the first year of study has been concluded. This creates an incentive for students to take a gap year, but emphasizes a return to university after the conclusion of their time away. The evidence suggests that taking time off between high school and post-secondary

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programs may be a choice made out of necessity for many students who need extra time to earn and save money for their postsecondary studies. Current practices in the U.K. and Australia offer lessons for Canada regarding how to encourage gappers to return to their studies. All students should have the opportunity to make the choice that best suits their needs and be supported in their learning goals, whether they choose a direct or delayed entry pathway into postsecondary education. CO By the Canadian Council on Learning © Canadian Council on Learning, 2008. “Gappers: Taking time off between high school and post-secondary studies” is reprinted here with permission. The article first appeared as part of the Canadian Council on Learning’s online series “Lessons in Learning.” For the full article text including all bibliographic citations, visit the following URL: http://www. LinL20080626gappers.htm

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