There are a number of themes that emerged from the study:

  • There are a multitude of factor influencing the pathways taken by young people Young people’s educational and occupational pathways are being influenced by a host of complex factors that reside both within them and in their environment. Those internal factors include personality, gender, interests, locus of control, and abilities. External factors include family, geographic location, socioeconomic circumstances, and the employment market.
  • Young people face a great deal of uncertainty and ambiguity as they move from high school into postsecondary education and into the work force. Many are uncertain about their career paths when they leave high school and those that do have plans often find they don’t work out as they had hoped.
  • They need more information about the way education connects to career.
  • They want to know about options to take time out, particularly after graduating from high school. Some of the benefits of a time out they have identified include: taking time to decide on a future career path, getting to know themselves better, gaining life experience gaining confidence and new skills, taking a break, and earning money to pay for university or college.

What made in difficult for you to figure out what you wanted to do?

“It’s tough because starting from high school there wasn’t a lot of information about what you could do. There was information was there for the typical positions, like being a teacher, being a doctor, being a lawyer, you know those kinds of things you kind of grow up knowing that are available. I honestly don’t really remember being in high school and having that much assistance with finding out about all the things you can do. So I remember feeling pretty frustrated and pretty stressed out because I knew what my interests were but wasn’t sure exactly how to go about finding out what I could do with them.” (27-year-old female)

What support did you receive from your guidance counselor?

“The whole guidance counselor thing seemed to skip by me. I think guidance counselors only notice like the people at the top and the bottom. So if you’re somewhere in the middle, like you have your B average or whatever, they’re just kind of like, well he’s doing fine, they don’t really have to waste any time on him. Or not waste time but spend any time on him. The kids at the bottom are there all the time because they’re in trouble or whatever and the kids at the top are at the top so they’re there too but just different reasons. And the ones in the middle just kind of float through high school.” (25-year-old male)

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since graduating from high school?

“That’s it’s okay to not fulfill every step you have planned out in your life in the timeframe that you have set out. That sometimes not getting what you want allows you to learn from that and realize what you really want out of life. Like not what seemed to be the perfect lifestyle on paper.” (24-year-old female)

What advice would you give to parents?

“Be supportive, like number one be supportive. If somebody comes to you with a dream, even if you think it’s ludicrous or they’ll never make a living, don’t just squash it. Hear them out and then maybe talk about the practicalities because I don’t think most parents do want they children to take up something that’s going to equal like living in a cardboard box. So you know, talk about the practicalities of it, ask them, do you have a plan of how to achieve it. If they’ve thought it out well enough and thought about how they could make a living off of it I think it deserves to be heard and ultimately it’s their choice” (24-year-old female)