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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
December 4, 2016
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Laurier program brings post-secondary options to Grade 8 students

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Mar 6/14| For Immediate Release


Gail Forsyth, Director
Centre for Student Success, Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710 ext. 3006 or


Lori Chalmers Morrison, Acting Director
Communications & Public Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710 ext. 3067 or

WATERLOO – When Grade 8 students choose between the academic and applied streams in high school, their decision has a significant impact on their options in secondary school and what they do after graduation. But according to recent studies, it’s unclear whether most students and their families have enough information to make these decisions. 

A new Laurier program is working to change that. 

Launched in mid-January, the JumpStart to Higher Education program brings information about post-secondary options into elementary school classrooms. The program, offered by Laurier’s Centre for Student Success, is designed to educate students and their families about different post-secondary pathways, and to debunk common misconceptions — such as post-secondary education being too expensive — so they can make informed decisions when choosing Grade 9 courses. 

“As someone who has worked in admissions and academic advising at Laurier for many years, and as a parent, I’ve long been aware there is a gap in the information parents and students have about the various pathways to higher education,” said Gail Forsyth, director of Laurier’s Centre for Student Success.

“It is unsettling to learn that students and families are making decisions about which stream to pursue in high school with limited information. This program bridges that gap by showing them how their academic and career options are linked, and by providing information about how they can fund their education to make their dreams a reality.” 

Jumpstart is currently a pilot project funded by the Astley Family Foundation and will be delivered at eight schools across Waterloo Region, reaching more than 1,300 Grade 8 students. JumpStart’s organizers are also developing a workshop for Grade 7 students to be offered in April and have a long-term goal of making JumpStart a resource for Grades 6, 7 and 8 to support the Ontario Ministry of Education’s newly released K–12 program, “Creating Pathways to Success.” 

JumpStart was developed by Jan McPhedran-McLeod, a recently retired principal who worked for the Waterloo Region District School Board for over 36 years, and is facilitated by two recent Laurier graduates who have completed Bachelor of Education degrees. The instructors use hands-on activities and multimedia presentations to get students thinking about different careers and use real world examples to show which path — apprenticeship, college or university — they can take to get to their desired profession. 

The facilitators provide follow-up activities for the class to complete and encourage teachers to participate in all aspects of the program so they can be a source for up-to-date information. Students are also encouraged to take their resource booklet home and review it with their parents. 

“The response from students and teachers has been enthusiastic,” said McPhedran-McLeod. “Through interacting with students, it’s become clear the program provides an excellent opportunity to share and clarify important information and to encourage dialogue among students, teachers, guidance counsellors and families.” 


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