Getting Ready for Post-Secondary

Your pathways planning journey involves transition from grade to grade, and then to life after high school to one of the post-secondary destinations of:

  • Apprenticeship;
  • College or University;
  • Community Living; or the
  • Workplace.

To help guide you in choosing your initial post-secondary pathway, you will want to consider to consider the following:

Who am I? To help answer this question, reflect on your strengths, interests, values and skills. Review your learning styles survey and career matchmaker results in your Individual Pathways Plan in Career Cruising.

What are my opportunities? To help answer this question, explore a variety of fields of work, occupations and careers through recreational, social, leadership, volunteer, part-time employment and experiential learning programs (i.e. cooperative education). Use Career Cruising to investigate the preparation required for occupations and jobs.

Who do I want to become? To help answer this question, explore experiential learning, career options and education programs and then related your interests, skills and aptitudes to your education, career and life goals so that you can make informed choices about the pathway that complements your unique talents.

What is my plan for achieving my goals? To help answer this question, create a plan that details the goals you have set for yourself, identify the resources you require to implement your plan, and think about potential obstacles you may encounter so that you can devise possible solutions.

Review graduation requirements

Be sure to check your Ontario Status Sheet to keep track of your graduation requirements:

  • Number of credits and compulsory credits
  • Literacy Requirement
  • Community Service Hours

You can access your Ontario Status Sheet by visiting your Guidance Counsellor.

Financial Support

Visit the Employment Ontario training website to learn more about loans for tools, grants, apprenticeship completion bonus, and other financial supports:

Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP)

The Ontario Student Assistance Plan is funded by the Ontario and Federal government for post-secondary students who maintain at least a 60% course load. The OSAP Aid Estimator feature can be used as a guide to a possible assessment. Grade 12 students can apply on-line in the spring to:

30% Off Ontario Tuition Grant

The Ontario Tuition Grant is available for full-time undergraduate university and college students whose parents gross income is less than $160 000.

  • $1730 per year in a degree program at a public college or university in Ontario
  • $790 per year for a diploma program at a public college in Ontario

Automatic consideration is given to students who have applied for OSAP.


A scholarship is an award based on a prescribed set of criteria. They are not always based on marks or for students going to university. Scholarships are available from a number of institutions:

  • Graduation awards from Secondary School;
  • Searchable Scholarship Database on Electronic INFO;
  • University and College Scholarships: search individual school websites;
  • Company and Organization Awards: ask your family;
  • Websites:


A bursary is financial aid that does not need to be repaid. The primary criteria for a bursary is financial need. Students should contact the financial office of the school they are attending to initiate a bursary application.

Researching your options

In order to become better informed about your post-secondary choices, it's never too early to start researching your options. Visit your school's Guidance Office or Career Centre to access print resource, and go for campus visits.

Find out if the college or university you are interested in has an 'Open House'. Use the 'Education' tab in Career Cruising to explore your education options in Ontario, in Canada, and in the United States. You may also want to attend the following fairs:

Post-Secondary Pathways

Students, parents and teachers are life-long learners. The idea of planning a pathway toward an educational goal should be focused, yet flexible. Educational goals can change over time. The ultimate goal of a student is to find and enjoy meaningful work.

There are many ways to journey toward work. The journey involves the transition from grade-to-grade and to life after high school to one of the post-secondary destinations of: apprenticeship, college, community living, university or the workplace.


Apprenticeship is a post-secondary pathway that combines on-the-job training, work experience and technical training that leads to certification in over 150 trades.

  • Employers provide about 90% of the apprenticeship training in the workplace.
  • All apprentices attend in-school sessions offered by approved training delivery agents (e.g. colleges, unions) for the remaining 10%, which involves classroom instruction on theory.
  • Once both school and on-the-job components have been satisfied, apprentices will receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship.
  • For trades with exams, apprentices must pass the exam before they can receive their Certificate of Qualification.

Check out Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program or College of Trades for more information about apprenticeship opportunities.


There are 27 colleges in Ontario, located throughout the province. Colleges offer a variety of diploma, certificate and applied degree programs. The basic admission requirement for postsecondary programs in the Ontario College system is one of the following:

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or
  • any lesser minimum admission requirement as established by a college on a program-specific basis.

Ontario colleges offer more than 2,400 program choices in almost 600 subject areas. Programs are career-oriented and geared toward marketable skills. Find out about programs, arrange a campus tour or talk to college staff who can answer your specific questions.

Visit Ontario Colleges for more information and college specific requirements.

Community Living

Transition planning is about looking ahead to the future and preparing for adulthood. It is a partnership involving student, parent, teachers, friends, community and adult service providers, and any other individual with a vested interest in your child. Consideration must be given to such things as:

  • Living arrangements
  • Community programs
  • Employment opportunities
  • Further education opportunities
  • Health care
  • Recreation and social activities

Visit Developmental Services Ontario for information.


To attend university, students must attain their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and 6 of their grade 12 courses must be at the University or University/College Level. There are 21 universities in Ontario, offering professional programs in a variety of fields. Universities offer three and four year undergraduate degrees. Professional programs such as dentistry, medicine, engineering and education are offered at several Ontario universities.


The goal of all students is to find employment that is fulfilling and of service to society. There are many ways to get to the world of work and one of the ways is through an entry-level job. Students will find information regarding the availability of entry-level jobs in their guidance department at high school. A number of organizations exist in Durham Region that help assist students to find employment after high school. An important organization is Employment Ontario.

Visit Employment Canada for specific information about programs.