“I’m Done . . . Now What?”
Name: Leanne Merkowsky
Organization: Living Sky School Division (Battleford, Saskatchewan)
Summary: Students leave school with great expectations and dreams, but they are often ill prepared for what lies ahead. Peers have a huge impact on career choices and life decisions. Why not capitalize on their power and influence? Why not share their unique perspectives of ‘life after graduation’ to paint a realistic picture for current students?
Project Description: The project targets grade 11/12 students and provides insight into the joys and hardships of becoming an adult. It consists of a panel of 5 former students (now ages 19 to 21), who travel to local schools to share their experiences (living off student loans, disappointing parents, entering non-traditional work roles, financial woes, returning to school after a year off, traveling abroad, starting a business, being stuck in a dead-end job). Students don’t like being lectured by ‘old fogies’, but they do enjoy listening to people they can relate to as they retell their stories of life. The panelists not only focus on the good parts of leaving after graduation, but they also address the hardships and how they were overcome. Students have an opportunity to ask questions and learn from the panelists (how to budget for Friday night and still be able to eat something other than ichiban noodles all week, how to get along with a roommate who ‘used to be’ a friend, etc.).
Perceived Impact: Students don’t understand the value of education, nor the connection between subjects and ‘real life’. Many doors close if they don’t have the required areas of study. Having former students talk about how their plans have altered in the short time since leaving school, and their regrets, gets students thinking about how they can better prepare themselves. It gives students an opportunity to prepare for their futures and change their course of action before they graduate … before it’s too late.
“I’m Done … Now What?” is a simple plan, with a simple concept, making a huge impact.