Postsecondary Pathways




MARCH 31, 2023

Like Hank and Johnny, “I’ve been everywhere, man. I’ve been everywhere.” Among other things, I’ve tutored math and English, sold art in a traveling art showcase, served espresso lungo at an Italian bakery, balanced the day’s deposits in retail, and run the lunch-service line in a busy cafeteria. For reference, in high school, I focused on Business Studies and English, and in university I majored in Psychology. 

All. Over. The map, right?

When I walked away from high school after graduation the sky was the limit, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but then discovered after some time in the classroom (did I mention that I was an Emergency Supply teacher, too?) that it didn’t feel like my calling. I didn’t have a plan and once I started a family, a career seemed like a distant priority - motherhood became my vocation. Today, I find myself happily nestled in the Communications Department at a Catholic school board.

My path after high school was definitely not a straight, clearly defined one. Afterall, when the sky is your limit, where are the roads? (“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” - where are my GenX-ers?) I landed in an exciting and fulfilling place that I can see being my career, and while my education and work experience didn’t provide laser focus towards this particular field, it did provide me with a varied and useful set of skills. 

Of course, there were times when that lack of focus worried me, times when I thought maybe I had done myself a disservice by not having a better plan in place. It’s because of those feelings that I worry about my high school-aged kids. I want them to have a plan, but I also want them to know that the plan isn’t set in stone. It’s as okay to stumble off and find your way back, as it is to purposefully step onto a new trail that you find along the way.  I learned so much about myself on my journey: what I like, who I want to be, and I have to trust that my kids will too. We can chart the skies together, but I promise to let them fly…  everywhere.

Wade Tower, a Secondary Curriculum Consultant, has been with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board for over 25 years. Along with his professional experience, Wade brings his first-hand experience as a dad to the table with Chantelle in this edition of Beyond the Bell. It’s important to have the discussion with our kids and students that the paths taken after high school may be different for everyone. Some trial and error may be necessary, but working through the challenges is where we learn and grow.

Chantelle: Parents and caregivers support kids through so many transitions… They’re going into adulthood, but they're still young when they're making these decisions and it's not that typical that the decision that's made right away is the end-point in the journey. You're still on the journey, right?

Wade: These decisions that young people have to make… they might have the fear of not finding the right kind of work, fear of making the wrong choice and how it's going to affect them… they might be afraid of disappointing their parents. It is so critically important to know that it's just a step along the way. There's always a way to make different u-turns and diversions off those pathways. You're not stuck in it. In fact, even in postsecondary, we know that sometimes with students, their initial choice…  is very rarely the one they stick with throughout their postsecondary career. It’s part of the journey when they find out more about themselves and who they are. 

Chantelle: And there are so many ways that we can practice that process of decision-making. We have all these different values, and no one is right or wrong. You use those to guide the decision-making, like trying on to see which one feels better; and recognize as you go through the journey, that those values might change. 

Wade: Right, and what you value at 17 or 18 may be different than what you're going to value at 23 or 24.  The other thing we often do when we’re making choices - we’re thinking about specific occupations and I would recommend that we broaden that to look at sectors. Opportunities come up in sectors that we don't even know about. Look at ChatGPT! That artificial intelligence - five years ago, people weren't talking about that. There's a whole industry developing around that. So it's really important that we're not laser focused on the particulars - and I think that's sometimes hard.

There are so many options available to students looking ahead to their postsecondary pathways. Listen to the full, information-rich episode of Beyond the Bell here, or wherever you stream your podcasts.

Listen to the full audio version on Beyond the Bell Podcast below: