Dear Working Wise:
It’s nearly time to start applying to post-secondary schools and my 17-year-old son still isn’t sure where he wants to study—or what for that matter. I’m worried that he might waste time and money taking courses that will be of no use to him, or worse, not even go to school. How can I encourage him to find a path and follow it? Signed, Concerned Father
I’m glad to hear you are interested in your child’s education. You play an important and influential role in helping your son make good decisions—even if it doesn’t seem that way some days.
You can help motivate him by being curious and asking him questions. Ask him what his interests are, what he thinks his strengths are, what careers interest him, what careers don’t interest him and why, and what his fears are. Be supportive. Tell him what you think his strengths are and remind him about his past successes.
Step 1—Encourage him to explore his skills, values and interests. Self-discovery is the foundation of solid career planning that will lead to a career he loves. Getting to know yourself can be tricky, though. The Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) web site http://alis.alberta.ca offers an online, self-directed career planning tool called
CAREERinsite that he may find interesting and helpful.
Step 2—Get him to explore the career possibilities. Discovering careers that fit his list of wants and interests may just be the thing to get him excited about his post secondary education. The ALIS web site features a wealth of information on career options including detailed profiles on more than 500 occupations that include typical wages, duties, work environments, employers, and educational requirements.
The ALIS web site also features video profiles of more than 200 careers from Baker’s Helper to Utility Planning Technologist.
Step 3—Have him narrow down his choices using the information he has gathered. You could suggest that he interview people who work in the careers and industries that interest him. Informational interviews will give him a real-world view of the job plus they might open up other exciting opportunities. Job-shadowing, volunteering and part-time jobs are fantastic ways for students to pick up valuable work experience and try out careers before they spend years in post-secondary.
Step 4—Help him choose a school. The ALIS website has a helpful page called What Education Is Right For Me? It includes tools and information on completing high school, planning for post-secondary, applying for admission and a link to the EdInfo database of post-secondary training programs in Alberta. You can search EdInfo by program (topic) or school and it includes information on student finance and scholarships. EdInfo is available at http://alis.alberta.ca/edinfo.
Step 5—Apply. The ApplyAlberta web site has made it easier for students to apply to one or more post-secondary institutions, authorize transcript transfers, and avoid having to fill out the same information over and over. Check out the ApplyAlberta web site at https://www.applyalberta.ca.
Planning out your education and career can be both fun and empowering. Having a plan and a goal will help your son get excited about post secondary and keep him motivated while he tackles the next few years of endless reading and cramming for exams.
Good luck to you both.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at email@example.com. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.