Students look to the future

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Kate Andrews High School student Owen Gallagher looks over some college literature at Palliser's post-secondary fair.

COALDALE – Grace Gunderson is of two very different minds when it comes to a possible career: meteorology or politics.

“Since I was really little, I’ve always been kind of obsessed with tornadoes, so it’s something I love,” says the Picture Butte High School student. “As far as being a politician, it’s because I’m good at public speaking and really enjoy it.”

Finding a college or university which allows her to keep both options alive was one of the Grade 10 student’s goals at Palliser Regional Schools’ post-secondary fair at Kate Andrews High School in Coaldale Wednesday.

The annual event attracted about 400 Grade 9-12 students from Coalhurst, Picture Butte and Coaldale and 16 post-secondary institutions from across Alberta as well as a Canadian Forces recruiter.

Career and academic counsellor Susan Schmidt provided students at Kate Andrews and Coalhurst high schools the resources in advance of the fair so they could broaden their focus and ask important questions like admission requirements, scholarship opportunities and residence options.

“I also found out about the tuition at different schools, which was a real bonus,” said Gunderson.

The fair was an opportunity to ask questions of recruiters at specific post-secondary schools, as well as a chance to learn about programs that students might not have considered previously.

Owen Gallagher, a Grade 9 student at Kate Andrews High School, is considering a possible career in either fine arts or education. He was looking for an institution that offers plenty of options for minors, as well as a campus that can supply all the necessities.

Maija Vanden Dungen is leaning towards either the culinary arts or marine biology and was checking out post-secondary schools with that in mind. Until she’s further narrowed down her possible career path, the Grade 10 student at Picture Butte said it’s difficult to determine the best school possible.

While some first-and second-year students are still feeling their way through high school first, never mind deciding on a career, Schmidt said it’s always best they choose courses which will keep their options open over the next couple of years. 

Some parents may be anxious if their child is approaching graduation and hasn’t yet mapped out their future.  She said it’s not that unusual, however, and pointed out many students change their mind within the first year of their post-secondary program.

“Even as adults we change our minds. During our career span, a lot of us nowadays don’t stay with the same job 20 or 25 years,” Schmidt said.

Zoey Roelofsen has her sights set squarely on a career as a social worker, with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of troubled youth.

The Grade 12 Kate Andrews student checked out several institutions at the fair, looking for one where she can obtain her degree without having to transfer. A campus offering an active social life was not high on her list.

“I don’t like parties a lot and I want to study seriously, so Mount Royal seems like a better option because they seem like a pretty serious institute and have a big campus and everything,” she said.

Palliser counsellors work with students throughout the school year, monitoring their course loads to ensure their diploma requirements are being met. Long-term career planning is also available including information on things like admission requirements and early admission application dates for those super competitive programs, said Schmidt.

The post-secondary fair was organized through the Educational Liaison Association of Alberta. Its website at includes resources for students and parents.