University Bound? This Website is for You

As part of my career coaching business, I am always looking for more resources I can use to educate both myself and my clients.  On that note, a while back I was talking to a woman about my business, and she happened to be a parent of teenagers. She told me about a website that she and her children had used as part of their research into universities and the various programs available, and she emphasized how helpful it had been in helping them to understand their many options. I had to check out this site myself, and it is truly excellent. I thought I would share it with you in this post.

The website is called eInfo, and can be found at www.electronicinfo.ca. This site is billed as a guide to Ontario’s universities for high school students, but would also be a handy resource for guidance counsellors. The website provides a wealth of information about university programs, admission requirements, and more. Users can search by program or university, and can also access information on finance (fees and scholarships), and the application process. The site also includes a handy video explaining the many ways in which users can search for information. Users can also print relevant pages of the website for future reference; these are available as PDFs.

After exploring the site on my own, I found it to be an excellent resource, but I would offer a few words of caution. Because of the exhaustive amount of information available on the site, it is probably best used by a student who is sure they want to attend university (as opposed to college or an apprenticeship), and feels pretty strongly about what they want to study, or what school they would like to attend. For a more uncertain student, the amount of information on the site might be too overwhelming and could lead to more indecision and confusion.

I would also suggest that the site would be helpful for parents who are wishing to gain a better understanding of their teenager’s post-secondary plans, or who would like to compare program offerings, fees, etc, without having to scour the entire internet. The site makes it easy to do this, by including an option to compare different programs or schools, by simply checking a box.

If you or someone you know is university bound, you would be wise to check out eInfo, and check it often, as the site is frequently updated with new information. I know it will make a valuable addition to my collection of resources, and I’m sure it can help you too.

A Hard Look at Soft Skill Development

Previously, I wrote about the fact that our high schools are not doing a good enough job of helping students develop the soft skills they will need to succeed in the workplace. I also noted that many HR professionals believe that making some changes to existing high school curriculum, and providing more experiential learning opportunities (i.e. volunteering or co-op), could help to address this problem. However, I wondered how students could even obtain such positions, if soft skills are important in the search for them.

I would first suggest that we start when children are young. All children can be taught how to communicate clearly,  the importance of being on time to appointments, and how to be courteous and a good team player. Parents and teachers can all play a part in teaching young people these important soft skills, just by working them into every day interactions. It needn’t be a difficult process, and it would go a long way to ensuring students’ success, not just in the workplace, but in life in general.

I think for too long now, students have been coddled and treated with kid gloves, in the misguided belief that this will preserve their self-esteem. I noted in the previous post how many times, students are not held accountable for turning in schoolwork late, or for repeatedly being late to class. By allowing them to get away with such behaviours, we miss out on the chance to help them develop useful soft skills, and to become more responsible people, and thus, more valuable workers.

Once students are accustomed to using soft skills in their school life and at home, they will be better positioned to obtain volunteering and co-op positions when they reach high school age. Their interviews will have a greater chance of going smoothly, since they will be better able to communicate and interact with the decision makers they will encounter. This strategy has the best chance of success if we start teaching our children from an early age, and not leaving it until it might be too late.

What do you all think? What is your take on the soft skills question? I’d love to hear from you!