In this Careering feature, jobseekers and students reflect on successes and struggles in their career development

Ailie Crosbie

author headshotCOVID-19 has affected all of us in ways that we never expected. Although the experience has come with some good things, like spending more time with family, the negatives outweigh the positives for most of us.

As a Grade 12 student doing online school from my bedroom, my level of stress associated with graduation and planning for post-secondary education has increased drastically. However, I have tried to put aside all of the negative emotions of social isolation and focus on school instead, which I think has saved me from spiralling into depression. Through these challenges, I have learned that I am a lot stronger and more capable that I ever gave myself credit for. I now have a better sense of what I want in life and have learned to value what I think and not what others think about me.

Senior-year decisions

Grade 12 is a tough year to begin with. I, for one, can attest that stress and anxiety are things that should not be taken lightly. From the overwhelming amount of school work to the underlying pressure of what to do next, it can be a challenging year. When you add a global pandemic to the mix, it’s no wonder that students can experience stress, anxiety and sometimes depression. There are a lot of factors to take into account during senior year, like what you want to do at college or university – or if you want to take a different path.

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As the youngest in my extended family, there has never been a question that I would attend university because it is just something everyone did. I don’t feel any pressure, though, because it is such an encouraged and exciting opportunity. Although many of my peers are choosing to take a fifth year, gap year or go straight to work, none of those options were on my radar. Focusing exclusively on school and university plans has helped me achieve good grades and maintain some kind of routine during this strange time.

Thinking of the future

Some students are choosing not to attend college or university next year for fear that it will still be online and they will miss out on the full experience, but I know I still want to move forward. The possibility of living in residence has helped me feel more motivated and excited, even if  school will still be online. I am ready to move on after a full year of isolation. The future is on my mind every day and is my main motivation to succeed at school.

My parents have helped me through my final year of high school at home, by making me feel comfortable and safe, and encouraging me to stay focused on my goals. They also supported me through the university application process, so I didn’t need help from my guidance counsellors and teachers.

Change of plans

As a student at an Ontario high school, I am a member of an Integrated Arts Program. I joined the program to follow my passion for singing and musical theatre but what I discovered instead was a passion for English, writing, critical thinking and research. Over the years I came to realize that these were interests I wanted to pursue.

At the beginning of high school, I thought I wanted a career in singing. However, with some time to self-reflect and learn, I realized that that is not my dream. My experience in the arts program was full of fun and great learning opportunities; however, with the help of my amazing English teachers, my love for writing grew. I started to visualize myself in a career that involved writing and critical thinking because those are two talents of mine. For those reasons, choosing an undergraduate program was not difficult for me.

In the fall of 2021, I will be attending Western University for Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT). This program offers a critical analysis of the impacts that social media and the internet have on society. Social media has been an outlet for people to make connections, especially in the midst of a pandemic, and I am excited to study its impact on society. Not only does this interest me, but the program will also involve a lot of writing, critical thinking and research – all things I enjoy. There are many possible career choices out of this program, from journalism to communications to law.

Pandemic lessons

The pandemic has taught all of us more about ourselves than ever before. My generation tends to focus on what other people think rather than what we really want for ourselves; this pandemic has taught me to put my needs first. With all this uncertainty, the transition from high school to university seems intimidating, but with the support of my parents, friends and teachers, the process has been much more manageable. The time spent alone has forced me to do a lot of self-reflection, which has helped me learn more about myself and what I want out of life.

Throughout the COVID-19 journey, the whole world has had to take a step back and learn to accept change, which is a hard but beneficial lesson for a Grade 12 student. I have tried to push myself every day to do my best at school because it is one thing I can fully control. The valuable lessons I have learned this year have helped me become aware of the kind of person I am and want to be and have kept me focused on my future at university and beyond.

Ailie Crosbie is a Grade 12 student in Ontario. When she isn’t in school, Crosbie spends time reading, writing and with family. She enjoys running and exercising and has a strong passion for healthy living. Crosbie is excited to start her future at university and can’t wait for the opportunities that lie ahead.