If you have a teenager in grades nine or ten, it’s time to get thinking about her career interests and goals.
Make a plan.
Think about finances.
Make sure that your teenager accomplishes key goals before the busy grade twelve year of graduation and applications.
In Grades 9 & 10:
Ask if your child has met with his high school guidance counsellor and enrols in appropriate university or college prep courses for the upcoming school year.
Pay attention to good grades. Get him off to a good start with solid study habits. Graduation may seem a long way off at this point, but grades really do count for post-secondary admission and scholarships.
Get involved in extra-curricular activities, at school and outside of school, to investigate personal strengths and interests. Participation in these activities will pad admissions applications in her graduating year.
Talk to friends and neighbours about their post-secondary experiences, and start researching options online.
Discuss with your teen the cost of living, and how much it costs to maintain different lifestyles. Talk about what educational and career goals need to be accomplished to realize various lifestyles.
Get some job exposure:
Brainstorm who you know (friends, colleagues, acquaintances) in various careers. Find a few opportunities for your teen to job shadow your contacts, to experience what it’s like to work in different workplaces.
Use the summer to your advantage.
Have your child consider one or more of these activities:
Flip burgers, or, scoop ice cream! — learn about work ethic and earning minimum wage (and everyone benefits from working in retail at some point!);
Help out in a community service project;
Take leadership training such as swimming instructor training or camp counsellor-in-training programs;
Enrol in a language program in a foreign country or another province;
Or, take a secondary school credit abroad, or in summer school, to get ahead on his diploma.
These summer endeavours will help your child get ahead, and keep him on track to a suited career path. Just because he is doing something productive during the summer months, it doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy free time with friends, play video games, or relax at a cottage. He will get a feather or two in his cap, and likely meet some interesting people along the way.
I urge parents NOT to wait until high school graduation year before thinking about career goals and post-secondary options. By doing a bit of preparation starting in grades 9 and 10, your child will be set to embark on a clear career path.