Postsecondary Cocktail: Know what you’re getting into?

At a time when degree creep dominates western culture, young adults face a transition to post-secondary education that can seem overwhelming. Gone are the days when that first degree or diploma was a means to an end; it is now a first step to a future path of lifelong learning and career transition. For those with mental health challenges; you may experience a less than appetizing situation. What might this look like?

Mental Health Crisis in Higher Education

There is a growing body of evidence highlighting a mental health crisis in higher education. Campuses across North America are challenged to meet the increasing demands for mental health services for a vulnerable student population. Individuals who have faced mental health struggles through childhood and adolescents, are now encountering campus environments that are sadly under resourced to face the growing demand. Adolescents and their families, need preparation for this transition by being well informed of the options available and the myriad psycho-social-emotional realities that are part of college and university. For those with vulnerabilities like anxiety, ADHD, ASD, and LDs, knowing about those resources and planning appropriately can make a difference.

Know Yourself and Find a Match

It is important to know yourself and your expectations in relation to your future learning and work aspirations. Align these with opportunities to study at higher education institutions and/or vocational and work training opportunities. Your first foray into postsecondary studies can be positive but you need to become informed and aware; ask the right questions and generate honest answers. Do you really enjoy formal education? Are you keen about studying and learning? How about social interaction – do you enjoy solitude and being lost in a crowd or are you someone who loves interaction, group activities and being the centre of attention? Recognize that all schools and programs are different and try to prioritize those that are likely to suit your individual style, personality and need. Check out the MacLeans Education Hub to look more closely at what is on offer. Carefully consider the biosphere, of the city, school, program, campus, as well as residency options, and specific accessibility services and supports. Factor in the financial aspects of the full experience; living in residence, transportation, food, social and other additional costs.

Finally, families transitioning adolescents to postsecondary life, may want the opportunity to work with a professional to consider what this next phase of development means. For anyone looking for postsecondary transition services and support, contact