Beyond High School: A guide to discovering your pathway to success was recently launched by Erin Mills Connects (EMC).
The guide is a digital resource created by the community for the community. The guide’s writers and reviewers are local experts in their fields, including veteran school administrators, school mental health providers, long-term guidance counsellors, and award-winning entrepreneurs, not to mention youth and parents/guardians.
Beyond High School spells out what is needed for students in west Mississauga to find apprenticeships, apply to colleges or universities (or both), and get work experience. Information includes:
- Funding resources (think scholarships, bursaries, and financial aid). Students are also given tools to draft budgets and distinguish between wants and needs.
- How-to explore entrepreneurship right here in Mississauga. Did you know that the innovation hub at the University of Toronto Mississauga, ICUBE UTM, is free to residents in the Region of Peel?
- Ways to maintain psychological well-being. Students and their families will find relief in viewing or downloading recommended resources from some of Canada’s best-known mental health researchers and advocates. “It was also critically important to EMC to add an urgent helpline directory,” says Mary Nanavati, a former high school principal and one of the project’s writers.
- An introduction to Microcredentials that are becoming increasingly popular as workers quickly and inexpensively retrain during the pandemic recovery. What are Microcredentials? They are, “high-impact bursts of just-in-time learning,” explains Dr. Carrie Chassels of Northeastern University.
- What students should do who have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and/or other accommodations at high school. Short answer: Self-advocate and make sure to check what each post-secondary institution provides and requires.
- Worksheets and exercises at the beginning and the end of the guide to help students clarify their strengths and values, and create action plans to reach their goals.
Beyond High School is an 80-page interactive PDF. It will be accessible in several languages.
Young people gave early feedback to the guide’s writers in March. One, Aman Sahota, co-founder of Ei Amplified, said he loved starting with finding purpose, which led to the discussion of different pathways: “I would definitely send it to friends and family who are exploring post-secondary options.”
Many mothers were asking for help: They were worried that their children were not reaching their goals after high school. It was troubling to hear given there were jobs, innovation hubs looking for young entrepreneurs, and a wealth of top schools easily accessible by bus or train. Plus, University of Toronto Mississauga is literally part of our community.
Then COVID-19 arrived and made things worse. The majority of postal code areas in west Mississauga were listed as coronavirus hotspots or as having some of the highest positivity rates in Ontario, reported Insauga.com. In general, Ontario students lost so many days of in-class time that the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table issued a report in June 2021 that predicted trillions of dollars could be lost in future productivity.
In early 2022, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) released a snapshot of 565 college and university students who started their programs in the fall of 2020. They were part of the first cohort to enter post-secondary education since the pandemic began. Respondents said they were struggling to maintain well-being; many STEM students felt they were not adequately prepared for post-secondary programs, and so on. The report’s authors encouraged institutions to provide equitable learning environments and enhance students’ transitions to post-secondary life, “a pivotal point in a student’s journey.”
Erin Mills Connects (EMC) was fortunate to have forward-thinking community members. They worked early to provide high school students and their families with a guide for life after high school, especially in an area hardest hit by the pandemic. Founded six years ago and becoming a community mental health promoter, EMC received support from Canada Healthy Communities Initiative fund in late 2021.
GO HERE TO DOWNLOAD BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL: ONPATHWAY.ME/BHS