Guest Spot: Post Secondary

Guest Spot: Post SecondaryExactly seven months ago, in June, 2017, I submitted my first editorial to Ossekeag Publishing. The piece was about graduation, and if I’m honest, it was more or less a 757 word rant about how graduates need to relax about university, about figuring out what it is they want to be when they grow up, and about the need for parents to separate their own preferences from the process of choosing what career path their child should take. From what I gather this was received very well, and apparently made a lot of sense; a rarity for a lot of my arguments. It’s for this reason that I find it very hard to type what is about to follow, especially considering that, like many of us out their, I hate being wrong: but boy, was I dead wrong.
I’m sure that everyone can think of a time when they were on the outside, looking into a situation and saying one thing; however, at a later date, they found themselves in that very same situation, and realized that it’s not as easy as it had once seemed. This year has been a revelation for me as I am currently the one facing down the uncertainties of graduation. You see, when I originally wrote that column about graduation, I was not a graduate, but a plucky eleventh grader who thought they knew what they were talking about because of my friends in Grade 12. This year, I am graduating and I’m in the very same position as the people that I wrote about, and let me tell you: it is genuinely incredible how a simple change in situation can introduce an entirely new perspective.
Of course, not everything has changed since then. I still firmly believe that parents need to keep what they want their child to be to themselves, and allow their children to carve their own path. In addition, it is still a stone-cold truth that we, the students of today, are far to ahead of ourselves when it comes to our futures. We don’t need to decide whether a doctor, lawyer or whatever other profession that our hyperactive minds can come up with, is the correct choice for us. That has never changed, and I’ve committed myself to be as stubborn as a mule in a rainstorm on these points. This new perspective of mine did not come to me until I started looking into post-secondary institutions at the beginning of September.
Now, when I say that I was looking into post-secondary institutions, what I really mean is: I was looking into universities. From August to the middle of October, I religiously studied every view book for every English and Bilingual University in eastern Canada; I promise this is not an exaggeration. I can tell you every fact about each; from travel times to get to a particular university, dining options in various meal halls, and whether a single room or double room was the best bang for your buck at each institution. What I didn’t realize was that there are so many other options than university and it is this realization that has awarded me with a brand new perspective.
It’s an often forgotten fact that every person learns a different way; despite what we’ve been taught since day one: students are not designed to be confined to an uncomfortable plastic chair, surrounded by four white walls, and staring at a Smartboard taking notes all day. There are some, like me, that have no real problem with this, (sure we’ll complain as long as the sun is up, but in truth, we aren’t suffering all that much) however, there are other types of students who simply cannot function in this environment and require a different atmosphere that doesn’t exist.
On top of this, there’s a sizeable group of students that do not wish to follow the traditional career paths of today. Last time I checked, sitting in a classroom learning history isn’t necessary for a plumber; it’s good information to have, but it’s not likely to be useful in the future. Our school system is leading everyone in the same direction: university. It’s so rare that students are not just informed, but encouraged to research all post-secondary options. University is not the be all end all. For some it is, but not everyone. Community College Trades, on the job training, a gap-year even, are all fantastic options that deserve to be explored.
It’s up to students to explore all of these and hold none above the other. Find the one that fits you and what you want to do. Explore post-secondary institutions and not just universities, learn all of your options, and don’t be discouraged to take the road less traveled. Who knows, you may be like me, and find that university is right for you, or perhaps you’ll break the mold, and be much more adventurous with your post-secondary route. One is not better than the others, all will get you to your destination; however, they can’t if we, students and parents alike, don’t break the societal norm: university and nothing else.