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Making the right choices

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While the outcome of the universe may not hinge on whether you take chemistry in grade 11, Fort High vice-principal Mary Hickling said course selection rates high on the list of priorities for students.

Students are advised to pick courses based on their “career plan,” Hickling said, whether they plan to go to university or right into the work force.

“It’s a pretty complicated process," she admitted. "We have the guidance counsellors working around the clock the next couple of weeks to meet students.”

Hickling said students go through three planning stages. In elementary school, it’s the fantasy stage “where we all want to be NHL stars.”

Around grade nine, students are grouped in the tentative stage, where they may want to do this and they may want to do that.

The realistic stage hits around grade 11 and 12, when a student has a good gauge on what his or her capabilities are, Hickling noted.

For the first two years of high school, making choices is fairly easy for students, especially in grade nine where six of the eight courses are compulsory.

But starting in 1999, the biggest choice for new high school students is whether they want to be in the “academic" or "applied” stream, with plenty of room to maneuver between streams in grade 10.

“It will continue to be easy [to switch] from grade nine to 10," Hickling said. "But it will get more difficult the longer you go.”

Once into grade 11, students will have completed the majority of compulsory courses but face some important choices. Checking prerequisites of university and college courses that interest you is a good idea at this time, Hickling said.

“The option should reflect their career plan," she said. "If they’re going straight to work, they should consider a co-op. [Students] can accumulate co-op hours for an apprenticeship.”

And students are not discouraged to take post-secondary routes which do not lead to a university, Hickling said. In fact, more and more students are finding themselves going to college.

“Even our advanced students are going to college because that’s where the jobs are,” she noted.

At the same time, just because someone wants to be a scientist doesn’t mean there isn’t time for a few art programs in the school year.

“When the kids develop a plan for the year, we ask them to take an interest course to balance out the academic,” Hickling remarked.

“It rounds out the person.”

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