Sometimes students need a hand making the right decision on what to do after graduation.

The decision on what to do after high school is one of the most important decisions we make in life. On graduating, some students may already have a firm idea of what career they want to pursue, what studies they'll need to get there, and have the GPA to get into their #1 choice of university. Lucky them! However, most students are likely still trying to figure it all out. Do they go to university or a technical college? Or, do they want to start work straight away? How about a gap year? So many options.

Here are a few things to consider:

To gap or not to gap, that is the question..

If a student really has no idea what they want to do after school, perhaps a gap year would be appropriate. In recent years, gap years have become more mainstream in Canada and, in fact, encouraged by both universities (which are often willing to hold a student's place for a year) and parents. It is often seen as a plus by future employers. It's an opportunity to get some work experience; perhaps travel, volunteer or intern in different areas; and generally regroup.

According to the stats, students who take gap years are generally more likely to graduate from university, and less likely to change course half way through.

Technical college vs university

If a student is not especially academic, perhaps it's appropriate to go into a trade. Skilled trade workers (electricians, welders, mechanics etc.) have consistently ranked among the top five hardest roles to fill in Canada for the past ten years.

The advantages include a shorter course duration (less debt for studies/accommodation), a well-paying job at the end, and a career that is pretty much recession-proof.

If a student is university-bound, the following factors should be taken into consideration when choosing a university:

  • Location: urban or rural, small town or city?
  • Program: check out the specifics of the course and what's covered.
  • Co-op opportunities: does the program include opportunities for work experience?
  • Costs: tuition, accommodation etc.
  • Scholarships: check available scholarships or financial aid.
  • Check rankings: a couple of important ones to consider are "student satisfaction" and "employability after graduation."
  • Study abroad/exchange opportunities.

Studies at home vs studies abroad

As an international student, Canadians will often pay two to three times as much as local students for their studies. However, there are some exceptions and other factors to be taken into account. For example, some countries offer free tuition (Germany, for example), or the tuition fees are heavily subsidised (e.g. France). Many US universities also offer Canadians local fees, which brings down the price considerably.

Also, in some countries, like England for example, degrees are shorter; Bachelor's degrees are generally three years, and Master's degrees only one year. So, you graduate and start earning sooner, and you pay for fewer years of tuition/accommodation.

To find out more about admission requirements, scholarships for universities, and to chat virtually to universities from around the world, sign up for the free Study and Go Abroad Virtual Fair on February 11th.

Student travel organizations such as SWAP, YMCA and International Experience Canada will also be available to answer any questions on Gap Year options. Check the exhibitors list to see who's coming.

Register now for the Study and Go Abroad Virtual Fair